Association for Project Management
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The importance of diversity and inclusion in project management training and development

Blog posted by: Paul Naybour, 01 Dec 2020.

Group Of Diverse People

Project management training is designed to help organisations and project teams develop their project management capability for more consistent and successful project outcomes. That is the aim whether a company is undertaking bespoke training specific to their own project management framework or undertaking standard professional accreditation training courses.

So far so good…

But what about organisations with diverse groups of people from different backgrounds and cultures, and with different physical abilities. Do project management courses always seek out the strengths of diverse teams and grow the capabilities of all? Do they have an awareness of diverse needs but, in practice, fail to be genuinely inclusive?

Let’s take a look at what diversity and inclusion (D&I) really mean when it comes to organisations developing the capabilities of their employees. And how professional development and training courses can indeed meet the needs of all.

Why is diversity and inclusion important?

Project teams can achieve more when all team members feel respected, involved and able to bring their own unique strengths and skills to their roles. People are more motivated, employee retention rates are higher and employee turnover lower when this is the case.

It, therefore, makes sense that training courses and teaching materials should assist with developing those unique strengths and skills by embedding inclusivity into their training. Companies that embrace D&I benefit from the different experiences, strengths and ideas of a diverse workforce which, in turn, leads to innovative solutions and more successful projects.

Embedding inclusivity into training and development

Professional training and development programmes have always sought to appeal to different learning styles by providing written, audio and visual resources, and by providing opportunities for interaction to help with retaining knowledge. Many of the methods used to engage learners naturally also appeal to people of different genders, ages and physical abilities. People who are visually impaired can, for instance, opt to listen to audio content covering course material.

However, differences in race, religion, culture and language also need to be considered. This is particularly important when considering the case studies being used as part of a training course or lesson in project management. Do they use stereotypes or images that, at best, don’t resonate with learners; or, at worst, cause unnecessary offence?

As project professionals we undergo a lot of training, and we also train or teach others – next time you’re the student, or the teacher, keep diversity and inclusion in mind. Here are some of the ways to embed diversity and inclusion into project management training:

  • Create video content with foreign language voiceovers or subtitles if appropriate
  • Create audio content
  • Ensure there is a high-contrast between text and background colour for written content
  • Use clear, easy-to-read fonts for written content
  • Avoid idioms, jargon and acronyms that may not be understood by everyone
  • Carefully consider case studies to ensure they are appropriate for all audiences

Find a way to create courses and teaching materials that allow for different learning styles and abilities. Here at Parallel Project Training our bespoke courses enable us to tailor material to specific learners in respect of language and style and they are meaningful to people from diverse backgrounds. For example our series of APM PMQ podcasts are popular with all audiences and allow for a different style of learning compared to formal training.

Remember, everyone learns in their own way, some of us are better at exams, some at presenting, some at reading. Be mindful of this if you’re working as a project management tutor or trainer, and champion diversity and inclusion in the project profession.

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About the Author

Paul Naybour is the Business Development Director for Parallel Project Training. He is a well-known speaker in the APM Branch Network, a Project Management Trainer and Consultant. He is also one of the voices behind the popular series of APM PMQ podcasts.


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