Use VR to improve your DEI training

Use VR to improve your DEI training

VR training can provide you and your employees with the flexibility to achieve DEI goals for your organization.

by Scott Stacho

May 13, 2022

As diversity, equity, and inclusion training becomes a more integrated part of employee learning and development programs, it is critical for learning and development professionals to determine the most effective way to provide this training to their employees. It should be presented in a way that keeps employees engaged and excited about what they are learning, and that encourages them to use what they have learned in real-world situations. Nowadays, more organizations are moving towards virtual reality training.

Benefits of immersive learning

VR training can provide you and your employees with the flexibility to achieve DEI goals for your organization. With access to training through headphones, cardboard headphones, desktop computers, and mobile phones, employees are no longer required to gather in one place to receive important training. It allows companies to reach more employees at once with the same message.

When used within a blended training program, virtual reality is a great tool for immersing employees in a learning experience and providing them with an opportunity to practice learning objectives within realistic scenarios. It also allows learners to experience situations from another person’s point of view and provides them with instant feedback on how their interactions affect others, whether they are real actors used in 360˚ VR or computer-generated characters and items in the full virtual reality experience.

Address specific DEI issues with VR training

Virtual reality provides a means by which many specific DEI issues can be dealt with in particularly useful ways, such as:

  • Unconscious bias. Unconscious bias can be defined as an unfair belief about a group of people you don’t know that influences your behavior and decisions. Biases are not always easily identified and may occur unconsciously. VR training gives the learner an opportunity to see how unconscious bias affects employees – especially black employees and employees of color – and to practice appropriate steps to overcome bias and build authentic connections.
  • Minute hostilities. Through the effective use of VR DEI training, employees can gain a better understanding of what subtle aggression is and learn how to respond more appropriately. For example, you can replicate a traditional role-playing activity and give learners the opportunity to practice challenging conversations, allowing them the freedom to see how their tone and choice of words can affect a first-hand report.
  • Show sympathy. Virtual reality can provide an opportunity to build empathy in your teams by teaching employees the importance of respecting different points of view, which can lead to stronger teams where all members are valued. Virtual reality opens up a new way of training by giving learners the opportunity to see the world from another perspective. You can put learners in the shoes of employees from different backgrounds and let them see how their colleagues are treated on a daily basis. From there, lessons can be easily translated into real situations and can build a more empathetic office environment.
  • Work as an ally. By immersing employees in potentially fraught scenarios, it allows them to learn how to be an ally to an underrepresented group and use their position of strength to help guide the team toward being a more cohesive unit. For example, virtual reality can put the learner in a situation where the team leader makes a discriminatory remark about a colleague and teach them how to respond appropriately. Exercising such behavior in a virtual environment provides employees with the tools they will need to address these issues in the real world.

how to start

Just like any training program, your DEI training will rely on robust instructional design, and future learning technologies can enhance your DEI training initiatives. Having a formal DEI instructor involved in creating your program is essential to its success, which doesn’t have to be someone on your in-house staff. Partnering with outside vendors can provide the necessary expertise at no additional cost to hire someone for your own team.

By choosing an organization that can provide the right guidance in developing a VR DEI training program, your team can develop the soft skills they need to operate in an ever-evolving work environment.

Scott Stacho is the Director of Immersive Learning for Roundtable Learning, an immersive learning company based in Chagreen Falls, Ohio.