diversity training programs
Training & Learning

13 Diversity Training Programs to Kickstart DEI in 2022

Diversity training programs have a huge impact on your organization. Done right, they can improve employee engagement and productivity and build a culture of collaboration and trust. From a business standpoint, diverse companies have a higher likelihood of being profitable. There are additional benefits, too—you attract top talent, boost retention, and build a reputation as a company that keeps diversity front and center of its operations and culture.

But a diversity training program isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution that you buy and apply. To be effective, your program needs to fulfill your organizational needs, which are dictated by your employee demographics, the size of the organization, your industry, your training budget, and time.

Your diversity training program will act as a foundation for ongoing DEI initiatives, but not every program will fit your company’s needs. We shortlisted the best free and paid programs as a starting point for your decision-making process.

The best free diversity training programs

In one survey of 300 respondents, 79% of organizations said they expect to raise their budget and devote more resources to diversity training in 2022. But if you’re ready to get started before the next budget cycle, there are a number of free diversity training programs that you can use to kickstart your DEI efforts.

1. Foundations of Diversity and Inclusion at Work

Overview: Six instructors from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business come together to discuss diversity, equity, and inclusion issues in the workplace that have become even greater challenges since the pandemic. By the end of this foundational course, learners can expect to have a deeper understanding of diversity topics and learn key skills, including:

  • The language to navigate difficult conversations surrounding race and inequity in your organization
  • The impact of social class on thoughts and behaviors
  • How to help create a psychologically safe space that encourages open dialogue
  • How to promote organizational change to address equity issues

Areas of focus: Diversity, business strategy, social justice, management, leadership

Duration: Six hours (two modules of three hours each)

Offered by: Coursera

Rating: 4.5/5 based on 85 ratings

Enroll for free

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2. Communicating with Diverse Audiences

Overview: Teams with people from diverse cultural backgrounds often experience communication barriers when members of the team speak different varieties of English. Through this course developed by the University of Surrey, learners will be asked to think consciously about the role of language in interpersonal interactions and their own background as English speakers. Your team will learn strategies for using mindfulness to communicate more effectively and build stronger relationships at work.

Areas of focus: Communication, culture, interpersonal relationships

Duration: Four weeks

Offered by: FutureLearn

Rating: 4.6/5 based on 56 reviews

Enroll for free (with limited access)

3. Diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Overview: Take a deep dive into diversity facts and figures with this open online course taught by an ESSEC Business School professor. This course explains why diversity is paradoxical—learning about differences can activate our discrimination reflexes and could, in fact, lead to discrimination. Learners will identify ways to prevent discrimination in a social setting at work by understanding their perceptions and reactions to differences. The course also covers diversity and inclusion best practices in different parts of the world and evaluates their impact.

Areas of focus: Diversity, discrimination, social categorization

Duration: 10 hours

Offered by: Coursera

Rating: 4.7/5 based on 785 ratings

Enroll for free

4. Equality, Diversity, & Inclusion Training

Overview: This course begins with an explanation of an ideal workplace, where each individual is treated with respect and fairness. It also explains the role each worker plays in an inclusive workplace and the barriers and challenges they face along the way. This course is ideal for UK learners who want to learn more about the protections of the Equality Act 2010. The course explains unacceptable behaviors as defined by the Act so that your interaction with people in the workplace is in line with the protections of the Act as well as your own social and ethical responsibilities.

Areas of focus: Social and ethical responsibility, Equality Act 2010

Duration: 60 minutes

Offered by: iHASCO

Rating: 4.63/5 based on 2,578 reviews

Enroll for free

5. Gender and Sexuality: Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Overview: The terms related to gender identity and sexuality have evolved. This course will explain those changes in relation to the workplace, as well as the impact of these identities on an individual’s experience of culture and interactions at work. Offered by the University of Pittsburgh, this course provides historical, social, and political context for gender and sexuality. Plus, it brings you up to speed with current laws surrounding LGBTQIA civil rights.

Areas of focus: Gender, sexuality

Duration: 16 hours

Offered by: Coursera

Rating: 4.7/5 based on 770 ratings

Enroll for free

Related: Here’s How L&D Teams Can Celebrate Pride Month at Work (and Support Their LGBTQIA+ Colleagues)

6. Diversity for Dummies: Making Multiculturalism Work

Overview: This course teaches learners how to work with people from different cultural backgrounds and create a safe, inclusive, and connected work environment. The course modules also touch upon frequently overlooked areas of diversity such as language, geography, religion, and youth culture.

Areas of focus: Multiculturalism, education

Duration: One hour, 49 minutes

Offered by: Udemy

Rating: 4.0/5 based on 251 ratings

Enroll for free

Related: [On-Demand Webinar] How to Leverage Employee Training to Craft a Holistic DEI Program

The best paid diversity training programs

According to one survey, 70% of respondents believe that DEI training is somewhat or very important to their organization. If you have a dedicated budget for diversity training, you can invest in a paid program that best suits your needs. As a bonus, paid diversity training programs almost always offer a certification that learners can add to their resume or business profile.

1. Diversity and Inclusion Certification Course

Overview: This course teaches employees how to work with a diverse pool of co-workers and how to navigate difficult conversations. It includes lectures, case studies, and interviews with DEI professionals about fundamental concepts in diversity. Learners earn a certificate and learn about the categories of diversity, types of bias, sexual harassment, workplace bullying, disabilities, micro behaviors, non-verbal communication, and active listening—all of which can help you organize your company’s DEI vision.

Areas of focus: Diversity, inclusion, bias

Duration: designed to be completed over one week

Created by: HR University

Price: $199

Enroll online

2. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Certificate Program

Overview: This course teaches the nature of biases and how our brains process information to form them. The course also gives learners strategies for developing emotional intelligence and staying in tune with the team’s stress levels and moods—a great way to keep the team optimistic and productive. The course also teaches learners to identify unhealthy behaviors and apply mindfulness practices when team members are facing difficult situations.

Areas of focus: Bias, culture, communication

Duration: Three online lessons

Offered by: American Management Association (AMA)

Price: $3,295 for non-members, $2,995 for AMA members, and $2,837 for General Services Administration

Enroll online

3. Diversity and Inclusion Cornell Certificate Program

Overview: This course covers topics like equity, psychological safety, unconscious bias, and inclusive leadership with a focus on employee engagement and workplace culture. The course modules help you understand the perceptual and psychological processes that define how people interact with others who are demographically different from them. Employees learn how to counteract unconscious bias and the specific behaviors and skills leaders need to foster an inclusive climate at work. As a bonus, learners get access to Diversity and Inclusion Symposium sessions through which they can have real-time conversations with Cornell University experts.

Areas of focus: Employee engagement, bias, inclusion at work

Duration: Two weeks

Offered by: eCornell

Price: $3,600

Enroll online

4. How Was Your Day?

Overview: This award-winning video, available as a DVD or an eLearning course, uncovers what a respectful workplace looks like. The course is interactive and helps learners understand and identify unconscious bias, inclusion, harassment, and bullying through self-assessments and knowledge checks. Each segment of the video deals with a different diversity topic and depicts how bias hurts people and prevents a workplace from being truly inclusive. It also gives learners practical tips to overcome bias and stand up for themselves and others.

Areas of focus: Diversity, equity, inclusion, harassment training

Duration: 60 minutes

Offered by: Media Partners

Price: $950 for DVD, $1,150 for eLearning course (small business plan)

Enroll online

5. Unintentional Still Hurts: Overcoming Unconscious Bias

Overview: This implicit bias training video takes a direct approach by highlighting impact vs. intent—co-workers often make assumptions, ask questions, or take actions that may seem innocent or well-intentioned but are disrespectful to others. The course aims to motivate learners to embrace positive change, that is, correct mistakes in a way that leads to meaningful dialogue and provides a learning experience. It also empowers viewers who are on the receiving end of microaggressions with tips on managing such experiences.

Areas of focus: Unconscious bias, microaggressions

Duration: 45 minutes

Offered by: Media Partners

Price: $1,150 for small business plan

Enroll online

6. Diversity and Inclusion: Building a Grassroots Foundation

Overview: This course covers key concepts in the DEI space and presents the business case for DEI efforts. More importantly, it points out that building a diverse and inclusive organization isn't the responsibility of human resources alone. Everyone can and should contribute to diversity initiatives in their workplace. This course shows learners who to include in their diversity efforts and provides tips on how to engage and get buy-in from the right stakeholders.

Areas of focus: Diversity, inclusion, DEI strategy

Duration: 60 minutes

Offered by: Udemy

Price: $279.99

Enroll online

7. Ally Up: How to Build and Activate Ally Partnerships

Overview: This course teaches learners how to become an ally, how to engage allies for DEI efforts, and how to launch an allyship program in the workplace. Whether a learner is someone whose identity doesn’t fall into a diverse group (white, male, heterosexual) or a member of a marginalized group, the discourse on allyship covers multiple perspectives. The course content also offers strategies for communicating and building connections with people from diverse groups. Plus, it includes a section on how to tackle difficult conversations and lay the foundation for ongoing organizational change.

Areas of focus: Allies, allyship, systemic change

Duration: Two hours

Offered by: Udemy

Price: $279.99

Enroll online

Build your own diversity training program with a collaborative learning LMS

As with most things in life, custom-built fits your needs better than ready made. Every organization has a uniquely diverse workforce when it comes to location, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and experiences. With diversity training programs, a tailor-made program that allows people to collaborate and learn about each other through meaningful interactions can be far more effective than a video that preaches the importance of diversity.

At its core, workplace diversity is about getting to know and working effectively with co-workers from different backgrounds, beliefs, and cultures. With a collaborative learning platform, you don’t need an external diversity expert. You can invite employees who are well-versed in the subject to become authors and create courses on diversity topics, and peers can provide feedback through discussions and Reactions.

What is Collaborative Learning?

Discover the key to 90%+ engagement rates

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An effective diversity training program needs leadership participation

Just like in the discourse about diversity, a training program must be measured through the intent vs. impact framework. Delivering a workplace diversity training program comes from a place of good intent, but diversity efforts need to be ongoing to be impactful. It’s not enough to have executive buy-in for DEI. You also need visibility from leadership by inviting them to participate in the course, share their learnings, and implement changes based on the learnings.