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504 Learning & Development’s Subtle Leadership in an Equitable Workplace

10:45 AM - 11:45 AM
Thursday, April 21

Tracks: Management & Strategy

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is core to our mission. Over the last two years, global events and forced integration of home and life have impacted organizations and challenged equity in the workplace in ways we could not have predicted. L&D functions have needed to respond by maximizing our approach to DEI in response to social unrest and shifting boundaries between home and work. The challenge for organizations now is to meet these needs moving forward while also preparing to meet unexpected challenges. How can L&D functions use subtle leadership to lay the foundation needed to provide equitable supports in a changing work environment?

We’ll demonstrate how L&D can provide leadership through changing and challenging times. We’ll share how in 2017, we built a new approach to L&D at our organization by creating a framework and organization-wide relationships with leaders, subject matter experts (SMEs), IT, and other HR functions, including our office of DEI. We’ll discuss how we leveraged those relationships through learning advisory boards (LABs), site visits, and direct collaboration to build a responsive curriculum that includes an enterprise-wide series called Living the AIR Values. Our curriculum was built to weave the core principles of DEI throughout the content and to use a hybrid model of eLearning and virtual facilitated sessions to reach a dispersed workforce. Because of the groundwork we laid, we could respond to the needs of staff by providing new training and resources, supporting managers in having difficult and compassionate conversations, leading monthly support groups, and implementing content from Living the AIR Values to help teams address issues related to DEI in their interactions with each other and clients. Participants will engage in activities that give them space to think about how they might apply lessons learned to problems they’re currently facing as L&D leaders, as well as tools for laying the L&D groundwork to serve as leaders moving forward.

In this session, you will learn:

  • How a strong L&D foundation can cultivate leadership during challenging and changing times
  • Strategies for maximizing an approach grounded in DEI principles that can strengthen L&D’s role within an organization
  • The value of building a framework that is sustainable through change
  • Tools for developing a responsive curriculum with inclusive delivery strategies that can address challenges and change when they arise
  • How to maximize relationship to create a community and culture of safety and support

Technology discussed in this session:

Microsoft Teams, Zoom

Melissa Edmiston

Director, Learning & Development

American Institutes for Research

Melissa Edmiston, PhD, director of L&D at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), has over 25 years of experience in training, education, and technical assistance in the field of education, and more than 20 years of experience developing curriculum and training. She has led enterprise-wide learning solutions that implement human capital initiatives across divisions, leading to career development for staff and the achievement of organizational priorities. Specific responsibilities include conducting training needs analyses and producing and implementing high-quality training products and initiatives that align with the needs of staff; managing employee development initiatives such as career planning, learning communities, and professional development sessions; developing L&D strategy and annual plans across AIR divisions; providing leadership for learning advisory boards and staff manager learning communities; and maintaining a learning and development website, learning management system, and innovative L&D tools and resources.

Amanda Williams

Senior Program Manager, Learning & Development

American Institutes for Research

With more than 15 years’ experience in adult education, Amanda Williams believes that the most effective learning experiences are practical, engaging, and integrate a variety of methods that produce learning transfer. She is passionate about creating fun, hands-on, relevant, and challenging learning. As the senior program manager at the American Institutes for Research, Amanda developed and executed a training approach that addresses the changes in our growing and dispersed workforce, multiple eLearnings, and guides for staff. Amanda’s experience includes a mix of subject matter expertise, curriculum development, eLearning design, and facilitation in the adult learning space.