Most companies now incorporate diversity and inclusion (D&I) training and workshops as key features of their onboarding and professional development programs.
But studies suggest that current D&I training isn’t working.
When an iconic sports car brand approached us to help make their D&I training more effective, we used the latest peer-to-peer learning and gamification mechanisms to improve outcomes and create a more engaging and meaningful experience.
Read on to see what we learned – insights from this project could help your organization take D&I training to the next level!
Why gamify D&I?
Daphne Forbes, Assistant General Counsel at Microsoft, explained why HR leaders are finding gamification such a powerful tool for D&I training:
“All too often in diversity training, people attend sessions and memorize facts so they can check the box and say they completed their diversity training. With gamification, the goal is to encourage people to learn by doing, rather than memorizing, and to increase their knowledge.”
Gamification can transform D&I training from a box-ticking exercise to an active learning experience. How does it work? By incorporating game mechanics such as team-based activities, skills challenges, role-playing scenarios, rewards, points, and leaderboards, gamified training can increase engagement, trigger positive emotional responses, and improve the overall learning experience.
Compared to presentations and other more traditional formats, games generally increase player autonomy, allowing individuals and groups to set their own pace and their own learning objectives. This is especially important in light of research on the failings of current approaches – people react negatively to perceived efforts to control them, and mandatory D&I sessions can provoke hostility from some participants, causing more harm than good.
Making sessions voluntary and enabling player autonomy can make gamified D&I training seem less like an enforced effort to control behavior. Games are more likely to foster teamwork, fun, and friendly competition, increasing levels of engagement with the training.
Our Solution: The D&I Escape Room
When an iconic European sports car manufacturer sought to transform its D&I training, our D&I Escape Room game provided an ideal format for their program.
Our designers incorporated the organization’s learning content, policy commitments, and brand materials into the game script, creating a digital peer-to-peer learning experience for small groups.
Played online in teams of 3-6 people, participants are challenged to solve up to 15 exciting D&I- related missions to “escape the room” and finish highest on the leaderboard!
Delivering a fun, fast-paced activity to kickstart the training program, the Escape Room has become established as the showpiece of our client’s D&I training.
The game is also run during a D&I onboarding session for new starters right across the international business, delivering the company’s D&I strategy in a more engaging and interactive way.
Translated versions opened up the challenge to the whole international team, with a global leaderboard stimulating competition.
The game dashboard provided a useful feedback loop for the training, enabling leaders to track emerging trends and build on feedback data.
Gamification can help improve D&I training outcomes.
Still, it is important to note that gamified D&I does not represent a magic elixir to solve all the industry’s problems, and there are many important considerations for game designers, including:
• Learning materials should always be based upon reliable sources and independent studies.
• D&I games must strike the right balance between fun and learning, making sure they avoid trivializing the seriousness of the topic.
• When incorporating gamification into D&I training programs, companies must adopt a clear stance on the topic.
What is the goal, and what are the behavioral outcomes they desire? Effective corporate communication and clear objectives are vital in achieving buy-in and driving genuine cultural change.
Finally, training games must be aligned with the overall business strategy and incorporated within a broader organizational effort to achieve D&I objectives. One-off games are not the answer by themselves. In order to truly drive outcomes and behavior change, gamified training needs to be ongoing and combined with other important structural interventions, such as more diverse hiring practices across the organization.
Taking all these points into consideration, this project still provided a clear demonstration of how gamification can help deliver more effective and engaging D&I training.