By Corporate English Solutions

10 July 2023 - 14:53

How to use learner personas to inform your organisation’s DEI strategies

Create data-driven strategies using learner personas to build a workplace based on inclusivity, diversity and equitable opportunities. A place where everyone thrives.


Reading time: 5 minutes

Wouldn’t it be great to identify your organisation’s diversity gaps and potential opportunities without reinventing the wheel? 

You can.

Have you used your learner personas to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. Yes, a data-driven approach to DEI with data already available. Every organisation, if we are honest, can always improve DEI. In fact, one of the biggest barriers to increasing DEI is the sense that the workforce is sufficiently diverse.

Enter personas. 

Did you know personas provide you with data and insights that traditional diversity information gathering may not fully capture? They contain a more nuanced, holistic picture of diversity, going beyond numbers, to appreciate the complexities of employee identities. Mine the personas to identify skills levels and gaps, learning styles and preferences and workplace experiences including membership of interest groups and projects; find out about working patterns such as remote, hybrid, in-person and working hours; discover useful data about cultural backgrounds and language levels, contextual factors such as socio-economic data and access to technology as well as employees’ aspirations including career goals and personal ambitions. 

Isn’t it time your organisation got the most out of learner personas? 

Read on to create evidence-based, data-driven DEI strategies and initiatives to build a workplace where everyone can thrive.


1. Promote a culture of equity and inclusivity

A culture of equity and inclusivity doesn’t happen overnight. It requires active, intentional and ongoing efforts from resource allocation to continual evaluation and development. 

Your personas can help. Use them to:

  • ensure your organisational strategies build a culture of inclusivity: A 2020 survey by SHRM revealed that while 74% of organisations have DEI initiatives, only 32% have metrics in place to measure the effectiveness of those initiatives. As personas provide objective data about the experiences and challenges faced by different groups, use them to identify current strategies that may, unintentionally, be biased or exclude certain groups. Take employees with caregiving responsibilities. They may face specific obstacles that prevent them achieving their career goals. Use insights from the persona to accommodate their needs and create non-traditional career paths so they fulfil their professional aspirations. 
  • make your recruitment and hiring processes DEI-centric: Ensure job descriptions, advertisements and selection criteria are informed by the unique experiences, backgrounds and aspirations of different learner groups. Examining personas can alert you to patterns and trends that indicate biases. Check for subjective judgments about employees such as educational qualifications, language levels, learning styles or working patterns. Seek out talent from underrepresented communities. Reporting your DEI leadership data in your job descriptions can also attract talent. Recruitment platform, Glassdoor, report that 76% of jobseekers and employees consider a company’s diversity and inclusion when deciding to apply for jobs.
  • mine insights that feed into your unconscious bias training programmes: Use examples and scenarios to raise awareness of how unconscious biases affect decision-making, interactions and workplace dynamics. 
  • review performance evaluations and feedback: When did you last review the process and content through the lens of DEI? Use information about the unique circumstances of diverse employees to help create objective, transparent and unbiased evaluation criteria. As personas indicate strengths, challenges and preferences of different learner groups, you can tailor your feedback to support each employee’s growth and development and promote an inclusive culture. 
  • implement inclusive leadership development, mentorship and succession planning initiatives: Are there any potential diversity gaps? Mine the personas to understand aspirations and challenges of different groups. Proactively supporting employees from underrepresented backgrounds to advance in their careers and be part of the decision-making processes builds a culture of equity and inclusivity at all levels of the organisation. Use the insights, too, to showcase the unique qualities and aspirations of individuals from diverse backgrounds.

2. Support Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

ERGs are a platform for employees from different backgrounds to share experiences, connect with peers and advocate for diversity and inclusion. And learner personas can help you with promoting DEI through the creation and support of ERGs that address the specific needs of underrepresented or marginalised employees. 

By providing insights into the specific challenges, interests and aspirations of different groups, personas help organisations identify the potential areas where ERGs can be formed. Perhaps, employees from specific cultural backgrounds, or those with certain working patterns (e.g., remote, hybrid) or career aspirations would benefit from an ERG that fosters a sense of community and provides support networks. 

How can your organisation support ERGs? By understanding the needs and experiences of different learner groups through personas (e.g., remote workers or emerging leaders), you can allocate resources and offer support to establish and sustain ERGs. This can be in multiple ways: providing funding, technological resources, meeting spaces or dedicated time for ERG activities. Organisations can also offer guidance and training to ERG members, equipping them with the necessary skills to advocate for diversity and inclusion.

3. Engage with inclusive communication

Understanding better the communication styles, preferences and cultural backgrounds of employees will enable more inclusive communication strategies. You can ensure that information is effectively conveyed, understood and received by all.

Learner personas provide insights on diverse perspectives, on how different learners prefer to receive and engage with information. Organisations can then tailor their communication approaches to ensure everyone feels heard, understood, and included.

Learner personas contain a wealth of data about different learners’ communication needs, styles and preferences. Some employees may prefer written communication while others may engage better with visual or auditory forms. Mine the personas to also discover cultural nuances, values and norms of learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. Use this knowledge to develop culturally sensitive and inclusive communication strategies. Be careful to avoid language that may exclude or marginalise groups. 

When you make everyone feel included, you promote a sense of belonging. And this increases active engagement, reduces barriers to learning and turbocharges motivation and results. 

The development and promotion of inclusive communication strategies fosters a respectful environment where diverse perspectives are valued and acknowledged. It is an important signal that the organisation is committed to workplace inclusion. 

DEI is everyone’s business. Ensure you harness the rich and objective data from your learner personas to support DEI. Base decision-making, strategies and programmes on data and insights to build an inclusive environment where everyone thrives. 

With over 80 years’ partnering with organisations, we work closely with teams to ensure your people and organisation have the skills and tools they need now and for the future. Contact us for a free consultation.