What This Company Is Doing Right When It Comes To Diversity Training

11/22/2016 01:56 pm ET Updated Nov 22, 2016

Almost every company will say they are committed to diversity and inclusion in their business, but a good number talk the talk, but aren’t actually walking the walk. Omnicom Media Group is a company that speaks through their actions when it comes to diversity, and embraces diversity and inclusion as a part of their company identity, reaffirming their commitment within their core values. Everything Omnicom Media Group does, from new hire orientation all the way to business practice and staffing, includes diversity thinking and perspective. As a result, the company has not only experienced a healthy and thriving company culture, but has been able to see the positive impact of their actions in their client work and community.

Omnicom Media Group launched a Diversity 101 online course on the basics of diversity, stereotypes, and unconscious bias training that my company, ELM, developed into a digital, interactive course. The company’s Associate Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Rosa Nunez led the initiative.

Our team interviewed Rosa to find out what makes the course so effective in light of recent media around companies who have experienced poor results creating similar training. My team at ELM has been exploring and researching the issues with current diversity training of all types and how to not only spark and maintain engagement, but create a positive and impactful experience with the learning so that actions of employees change in the future. Omnicom Media Group’s diversity training has been well received by employees and we wanted to see what made the experience positive and impactful.

Rosa Nunez is the Associate Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Omnicom Media Group, holding twelve years of experience in the diversity space. Rosa is both the workforce diversity leader and the diversity supplier at Omnicom Media Group. Rosa focuses on building learning strategies, and developing high impact learning programs. Rosa explains: “It’s a completely different culture from my previous experience. I feel like the culture is a perfect fit for me, and my experience working with Omnicom Media Group has been extremely rewarding.”

On the topic of diversity training, Rosa explains “We must identify and mitigate our biases and triggers in a clear way. We’ve seen our current training program as highly effective in meeting these goals at Omnicom Media Group.”

We asked Rosa a few questions about her experience.

Q1: “What is one of the most important parts attributing to the diversity program’s success at Omnicom Media Group?”

Rosa: “Leadership buy in and endorsement is key. Our diversity training started with our CEO, and other C-suite leaders. Their help in getting feedback, and communicating the importance of the training to the entire company was a major factor to our success. Then, managing directors and other managers stepped in and helped oversee the training that makes it into the hands of every single employee at Omnicom Media Group. All of this lends to the credibility and reinforces the importance of the training. Leadership communication is one of the most important elements of our training success.”

Q2: “Why did you choose a robot theme for the learning content? Do you think it helped aid in the learning process?”

Rosa: “The robot theme came in for two reasons: First, our company culture is very fun, cool, creative, and different, and we wanted a theme that could communicate that while also holding the attention of our employees. We first thought of the theme of “toys” but then ultimately landed with robots. The second reason we chose robots was because we couldn’t think of anyone else who is more diverse. They talk and walk funny while always being true to themselves.

At first employees didn’t quite understand the meaning behind the robot theme, but it sparked excellent conversations and now our employees really love the robots and understand the thoughtfulness and reasoning behind the campaign.”

Q3: “We’ve seen on our team that through the use of illustrations, unconscious bias playing into a learning experience is decreased, while photography of real people might conjure up a bias. Do you think the robot theme helps in this way here?”

Rosa: “Absolutely! We want our employees to have a better understanding of their own biases and an understanding on how to prevent them from affecting their decisions. Taking the “people element” out of the content helps bring the focus back to the lessons.”

Q4: “What three tips would you give other companies looking to create diversity training that’s engaging and effective for their employees?”


“1. Steer clear of boring. You want content that is clear, relevant, and exciting. The subject matter can be daunting and many employees don’t understand why they have to learn it. Making it fun is key. ELM adding in some humor to the script and gamification components to the module made the content more fun, engaging, and easier to consume.”

2. Incorporate a lot of scenarios, interactions, ask questions, and make it Interactive to provide input. Our Diversity 101 training is highly interactive. This will increase participation and the overall enjoyment of the learning experience.

3. “Understand your culture and audience. We know who our audience is and how they learn. It was also important to incorporate adult learning principles into the DNA of our training for the best retention results. Keep it short. 15 mins or less will grab their attention is a positive manner. This is an area where we have received really positive feedback, that is fresh and different.”

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