Articles on: Action Plan Library

Diversity & Inclusion - Sensitivity Training

Nowadays, organizations are more diverse than ever. While workplace sensitivity has always been important, being able to understand and embrace one another's differences is critical for success in today's workforce.


Help employees better understand themselves and appreciate the differences in others.

What is sensitivity training?
Most workplaces consist of employees with different beliefs, backgrounds, and personalities. But sometimes, we aren’t sure how to interact with people whose values and behaviours differ from our own. Sensitivity training is an organizational development technique that allows employees to better understand themselves and welcome the differences of others. It helps build respect in the workplace and creates an inclusive environment where everyone is understood. Learn more about sensitivity training here.

How does sensitivity training improve employee engagement and culture?
Sensitivity training helps employees gain a deeper insight into themselves and those around them. It allows them to discover any unconscious bias, as well as appreciate and accept another's point of view. This leads to a better understanding among team members, which helps improve interpersonal relationships and boost productivity. It can also correct any negative behaviours or emotional reactions towards others’ differences.

How does sensitivity training benefit organizations?
Investing in sensitivity training shows your organization's commitment to building a culture of mutual respect. It limits the risk of employees perpetuating judgement and stereotypes (which may or may not be conscious), and helps managers adapt to the diverse needs and concerns of their employees. This allows employees to be more effective at achieving organizational goals, making a positive impact on your bottom line. It can also influence behaviours, attract a more diverse talent pool, and help your organization avoid any potential liabilities.

How do you conduct sensitivity training in the workplace?
The best sensitivity training programs are tailored to your employee’s needs and organizational goals. To be effective, the program must do more than address issues; it needs to set the tone for how employees should behave going forward. Before getting started, think about topics your organization would benefit from covering. Are you looking to raise more cultural awareness? Promote active listening? Better interpret other peoples’ behaviours? Whatever the topic, the end goal should be to create a work environment that is welcoming and inclusive to all. And as always, consider your learning objectives and budget before developing the program.


Conduct Sensitivity Training

Engage employees in your efforts - Explain to employees why you are conducting sensitivity training. Don’t single anyone out; make it clear that it is everyone’s responsibility to create and maintain an inclusive and respectful work environment.

Choose employees to carry out the program - Pick employees to host the training. Choose individuals who have experience working with people from different backgrounds and coaching others. Employees for your HR department are generally a good choice. If you do not have anyone internally who is qualified, we recommend looking for an external vendor or consultant who specializes in conducting sensitivity training.

Invite employees to participate in training groups - Open up the dialogue of acceptance through training groups that allow employees to learn about themselves and their bias through interactions with others in an unstructured environment. Try to include 8–15 participants in each group.

Start the training session - Ask participants to bring up any uncomfortable experiences they’ve had at work. This could include situations where they were treated unfairly, noticed bias in others, or felt excluded for reasons outside of their control. Topics will likely spark emotion, so have the leaders ensure participants that they are in a safe environment where they can communicate honestly and freely.

Let employees lead the conversation - Once the topics are introduced, allow participants to lead the conversation. It’s through this interaction that employees’ behaviours, interpersonal traits, and roles within a group will become evident. Listening to and/or problem-solving in situations where there are opposing views will help promote sensitivity and give them a chance to understand others’ emotions.

Provide opportunities for self-reflection - Following the discussion, have employees reflect on the experience. Have them perform a self-evaluation of any preconceived notions they may have had, and reflect on how this exercise has helped them understand their colleagues a little better.

Reference Material
The Sensitivities of Sensitivity Training
Beyond Sensitivity Training: Building a Diversity Training Program
T-Group Therapy

Updated on: 01/07/2021

Was this article helpful?

Share your feedback


Thank you!