4 Tips for Creating Learning Equity Through Literacy

September 8, 2022 | Activate Learning | 4 min read

The world is fast paced. It’s tough to find time to read a book or master a new skill. If you’re still commuting to work, you might be able to listen to an audiobook during your commute; but, if you’re like many people who are regularly working from home, you’ve probably found yourself with less listening time than before.

Today, International Literacy Day, is a good reminder to continuously offer your team opportunities for learning, reading, and listening to provide an equitable workplace. Here’s why this is important:

  • Across the world, over 771 million individuals, many of whom are women, lack basic literacy skills.
  • In the United States alone, only 79 percent of the adult population is considered fully literate.

What does it mean to be fully literate? Defined by Merriam-Webster, literate is the ability to read and write. For many individuals, this may seem straightforward, but that is not the case for others with disabilities and impairments relating to hearing and speech or those without access to regular learning and education. In fact, literacy may affect your employees without your knowledge, or it may impact the ability for individuals to get hired. Literacy is crucial to the performance of employees across industries in organizations in order to allow them to understand their work, complete their work successfully, and problem solve – it becomes an equity problem.

That’s why, as an employer, building literacy across the entire workforce needs to be on your radar. It is your responsibility to address these discrepancies and actively work to change them through literacy programs and learning initiatives to create an equitable workplace.

Ensuring there is equity in this area may seem like a daunting task but remembering the following points will help in nurturing your employees and creating a successful program.

Consider your goals.

For your organization, providing effective literacy programs could be a matter of equity and social justice. Consider what issues inform how you are investing in education, and to what extent this investment empowers meaningful change.

Many organizations consider learning and literacy opportunities an essential component of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts, and make technology-enabled literacy programs available to employees, partners, customers, or vendors. Is this something that your organization has considered?

Take our CSR survey to weigh in today.

From a CSR perspective, it is important to also consider how public policy works against enabling business investment in education. What can you do to counteract potential challenges you might face in implementing a program or navigate pushback?

These questions are vital as you look to build a literacy program that is both equitable and built for longevity within your organization.

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Remember learning isn’t one-size-fits-all.

Learning is unique to every individual. When beginning to formulate your literacy program, be mindful of how your employees work and learn to ensure that you are offering equitable opportunities across your organization. Individuals can learn through reading, listening to audiobooks, taking online courses, and through instructor-led training (ILT). .

Recognizing patterns related to how your team approaches learning is crucial to the success of any literacy program you decide to offer. These patterns can be integrated into employees’ flow of work so there is a convenient option for every type of learner – this is the key to a successful learning program.

Get leadership buy-in.

To further encourage employees to take part in learning opportunities, there needs to be support and encouragement from your organization’s leadership team. Employees must feel that learning is a priority, regardless of level, title, or job, and that spending time learning is encouraged by their leaders. At Skillsoft, we build learning opportunities into our annual KPIs — encouraging our team to explore areas of interest and earn badges each quarter. This is an expectation for employees of all levels – not just entry-level employees or managers.

It is the responsibility of managers and leaders to prioritize their own learning and encourage employees to follow suit.

Provide the content your learners are looking for.

In order to be equitable and ensure all employees find learning opportunities and content helpful, you must have a broad range of learning topics for your employees to consume. Consider offering a mix of content that emphasizes hard skills and power skills. Offer a wide range of topics, as well as topics from different industries and skill levels. For example, having content for your HR team regarding onboarding, content on phishing for your IT department, and content on social media best practices for your marketing team will ensure there is something new for everyone to learn about.

When looking to launch a new program for learning and literacy within your company, these tips will aid in both a successful and equitable deployment. Literacy is a worldwide issue, and the sooner companies understand the role they play in helping employees upskill and continue their learning journey, the better.

By creating a learning program and ensuring there is participation at every level of your organization, you will be able to create positive change for your employees and everyone they meet.

Literacy is just the tip of the iceberg. How is your organization looking to enact positive change in society?