Connect with an Exeter representative (312) 475-2800

As every training facilitator knows, conducting training is an evolving process full of lessons. Diversity and Inclusion Training presents its own dynamic challenges. Below are five lessons we have learned over the course of our time developing, facilitating and measuring the impact of Diversity and Inclusion trainings for different healthcare organizations. We believe these lessons learned will resonate with fellow instructional designers, OD practitioners, and facilitators alike.


It may surprise you, but as a facilitator in D & I Training, you will learn about your own biases and the perspectives of others just as much as the training participants will. These trainings should challenge your assumptions and the way you see the world around you. We have learned something new in every training we have conducted. As a result of that learning, the way we approach Diversity and Inclusion Training now, after hundreds of sessions, is different from how we first approached it.

We have found success throughout the process in our conscious effort to be open to learning along with our participants. As a facilitator, model the behavior you are teaching. Be open. Share your vulnerability and mistakes. Call yourself out when appropriate. This will allow your participants to connect with you and the material on a completely different level. When discussing cross-cultural communication, we often stop and point out that we have just made a mistake in our communication (I really struggle to stop saying, “You guys,” which is far from inclusive). In addition to getting a laugh, this willingness to show that our own diversity and inclusion journeys are still in progress also allows our participants to accept and share that their journeys are still in progress, too.


If done effectively, this material will create some discomfort as participants become aware of their own biases and behaviors. Change is often uncomfortable. If your Diversity and Inclusion Training does not create some discomfort, the content is not challenging enough. Unfortunately, discomfort can generate complaints. When this happens, consider the feedback carefully but do not give up or change the training drastically in an attempt to please everyone. Prepare and plan ahead of time how you will handle complaints and feedback. We let our clients know that they might hear a few grumbles and discuss what the response to those grumbles should be. That does not mean we ignore feedback. Part of our success has come from soliciting feedback during every training session and implementing necessary changes immediately. It does mean that we are not afraid to push people out of their comfort zones.


One size does not fit all. We have learned that every organization is in a different stage of the diversity and inclusion journey. Some organizations might be ready for an in-depth discussion of health equity and disparities, and excited to learn strategies to address them. Other organizations may be learning about unconscious bias for the first time and treading cautiously into the session.

Use organizational data to identify what content would be most helpful for your organization at this stage of the D & I journey. Then use that data to make the training relevant and provide context specific to the organization. This can be organizational data, patient data, community data, supplier data or benchmark data. It may be quantitative or qualitative. We love to turn qualitative data into training video monologues that share verbatim comments from community members, patients, and employees. This helps the data come alive for our participants and makes a compelling case for applying diversity and inclusion initiatives to their roles. To see a sample of videos that we have used in our Disability Sensitivity Trainings, part of our suite of D & I Trainings, please contact us at


On any given day, we will have c-suite executives, faculty, clinicians, non-clinicians, mid-level leaders, and individual contributors from any and all departments in our trainings. Some clients have even included board members, diversity council members, and community partners. We adapt in each session to use examples and stories that are relevant for the individuals in the room. We also tweak the activities in each Diversity and Inclusion Training to ensure that they speak to the unique audience present that day. Through doing so, we strive to understand how diversity and inclusion manifests in our participants’ lives each day. This often looks different for practicing nurses than it does for administrators, and it looks different for environmental service employees than it does for finance team members. Our activities target how each person can approach diversity and inclusion in a way that is specific and relevant to them and their role.


Change, especially around challenging subjects, is not accomplished with training alone. Training content has to stay top of mind for participants after they leave the session. If the awareness, commitment, and strategies to change are not reinforced, participants will not be able to make conscious and purposeful progress in the areas they seek to impact. We send regular refreshers to our participants for up to a year after training is complete that include tips and strategies to apply what they learned to their roles every day. These help our participants keep diversity and inclusion top of mind and supports them in implementing change both personally, and in their teams, units, departments, and organizations.

For more information on how we approach Diversity and Inclusion Training or our diversity and inclusion solutions, click here or contact us at


Lauren Jones is a Project Manager specializing in organizational development solutions for healthcare organizations. She is passionate about helping healthcare organizations develop their teams and leaders to better serve their communities and reduce health disparities.