A recent survey from the Strada Education Network showed that 52% of Americans felt they had limited opportunity to advance at their work. What’s worse, 46% felt that there was not an equal opportunity for them to advance in their respective industry because they are a member of a minority group.
Equity in the workplace (not to be confused with equality) is a problem that even the most neoteric companies can’t seem to solve. Case in point — numerous tech giants have a reputation for driving progress in social activism and workplace diversity. Yet, they are overwhelmingly led by white men. Where are all the minority leaders?
Presumably, these organizations have noble intentions. They nurture the right mindset, adopt equality as a core pillar of their company values, and invest in diversity and inclusion initiatives. But, without equity, even positive action can plateau and cease to impact change.
Equity vs. Equality
Equality is like serving the same exact meal to a room full of people regardless of age, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, etc. Each person has a seat at the table, a place setting in front of them, and staff to deliver their food. But without special consideration for food allergies or dietary restrictions, some people are inadvertently excluded from partaking in the free meal. This is called inequity.
As it relates to career advancement opportunities, such as access to training and employee development, inequity might look like:
- Limited access to a computer or internet service at home.
- A less inclusive employee experience due to remote placement.
- Language barriers that prevent employees from understanding growth opportunities.
- Learning disabilities that discourage employees from seeking career advancement opportunities.
Equitable Training for Employee Development
The only way to solve inequity in education is to acknowledge the varying needs and learning preferences across your workforce and address them systematically to ensure that all employees have not only equal opportunities for professional development, but also the resources, understanding, and support needed to recognize and take equal advantage of those opportunities.
This is where bootcamp-style training (designed for generalized deployment) falls short. While great for a population of learners who have similar starting skills, end goals, learning styles, resources, and support, the odds of a bootcamp program meeting a variety of varying employee needs is rare, if not impossible.
The most equitable approach to training and employee development is to build your own in-house corporate training academy.
3 Ways an In House Training Academy Improves Equity
By design, in-house training programs incorporate three essential elements needed to improve equity in employee education:
1. Career Mapping
Employees don’t always know how to go from where they are now to where they want to be. Many of them might not even have a “destination” or career goal in mind. Without a plan for the future, they cannot effectively seek out relevant experiences or training opportunities.
Building an in-house corporate training program involves a discovery phase that analyzes your current workforce’s potential, needs, and limitations. When paired with structured career mapping, coursework can be tailored to support highly specific goals and pave strategic pathways that benefit the employee and the future of the business.
2. Skill Audits & Assessments
Program designers must understand the current and desired skill levels of an employee population before they can develop a training academy that delivers tangible outcomes. With turnkey solutions like technical bootcamps, programs are made to fit the current environment, and goals are adapted to fit the program. Inevitably, there will be areas that do not align perfectly, each representing ROI vulnerability.
Building your own internal training academy involves a thorough skills audit and ongoing skills assessments, allowing program designers to reverse-engineer an employee learning environment and curricula based on real-time skill demands, learner performance, and future changes that will impact employee roles.
3. Research & Refinement
For education to be equitable, employees need to be invited into the conversation — period. In large enterprises, it’s not always practical for employers to regularly correspond directly with employees. However, that doesn’t mean leaders can’t create avenues for communicating real-time employee needs.
With the right educational partner, internal training academies can be designed to closely survey learners and instructors to keep a pulse on preferences and satisfaction levels, ensuring that all voices are heard. Most importantly, these programs allow employers to take action on what they learned.
Technical bootcamps lack agility, making changes and improvements painstaking work. Altering curricula or tweaking program deployment can significantly increase the cost-per-student and takes considerable time to launch. On the other hand, building an internal corporate training academy offers the flexibility to test programs, study performance and satisfaction, make revisions, and enhance the experience in less time and with less cost.
Be it language, geographic, or social barriers; employers need to do better at connecting the right employees with the right opportunities. By design, building an in-house training academy requires employers to create processes for understanding what “the right” opportunities are and how to ensure employees have equal access, resources, and support based on their unique needs.
Developing and branding your own corporate training academy also ties learning into the fabric of your company culture. Rather than an employee benefit, career advancement becomes a part of the company mission, resulting in a more unified, targeted, and agile workforce capable of absorbing change and converting evolutionary forces into forward momentum.
Think you can’t afford to build an in-house training academy? Think again. It’s actually more affordable than you think. We break it down for you in our next article. Stay tuned!