“No matter what we do, we are going to offend someone,” is an opinion that we often hear. There is some small amount of truth in it, because no matter how you scour your company’s training and other materials, it is nearly impossible to eliminate what people might find offensive.
No matter how careful you are, your training materials can trigger objections like these . . .
- “Why is the receptionist that is shown in that training video a woman? That reinforces stereotypes.”
- “The delivery person who is shown in that photograph is a man – why?”
- “Why are all the families depicted in that training video headed by a man and a woman? A growing number of the employees here are now members of same-sex couples. And what about the senior employees who now work here?”
Okay, point taken. And it is a good point.
The fact is that older training materials – videos, photographs, and job descriptions – are especially apt to contain material that some trainees are apt to object to. Times are changing quickly, and materials that seemed inoffensive only five or six years ago might look different today.
Reviewing Your Training Materials
How long has it been since you not only looked at the training materials you are using, but actually sat down and took the training yourself? If it has been years, it is worth doing. You could be surprised to discover how outdated some of your materials have become in the wake of social changes.
Pay special attention to how people are depicted in visuals and videos. Are men always shown in traditionally “male” roles? Are women always shown in stereotypically “female” activities? If so, it is time to rethink and revise.
Also review your written materials, paying special attention to how men and women are described. Are bosses always men, for example? Are women relegated to support roles?
You Can’t Please Everyone
Yes, it is true that it is very hard to please everyone and assure that no one will object to the people and situations that are reflected in your training. But you can try . . . and you should.
If your training materials are offending even a small percentage of your employees, that will hurt the effectiveness of your training. Consider what you can do to turn that situation around.