Claire Brereton, Assistant Manager, People and Change Consulting at Grant Thornton Ireland 

People and Change Consulting, Assiatnt Manager Claire Brereton
Claire Brereton

By now you have likely moved your corporate classroom training to Zoom or Teams and ticked ‘develop digital learning strategy’ off your to-do list. But there is more to consider than just making the content and delivery available to all. It has to work well for all learners, and this requires additional effort.

In the past seven months there has been a focus on digital learning like never before, but have you aligned your digital learning practices with your diversity and inclusion strategy? Most firms have not, and are missing a big opportunity to create an inclusive learning environment.

If you were holding training in a physical room you would naturally check or assume there was wheelchair access to the location, wouldn’t you? Luckily with online learning this is no longer an issue, but what about those with hidden disabilities?

Do the graphics in eLearns or interactive workbooks make sense to those who have colour vision deficiency? Do videos have volume control or subtitles for those with Autism, hearing difficulties or non-native English speakers? Are you close enough to your camera for someone to lip-read?

It’s easy to see when someone is struggling in a physical classroom, but how are you checking in from behind the screen?

In terms of the virtual classrooms themselves, think about the delegates’ home environments – some could be more challenging than others. Some participants may need cameras off, for example.

For others, virtual classrooms could be the perfect solution – especially for those with social impairments. To provide the best experience for everyone, be flexible, be sensitive, and consider frequent breaks.

Of course embedding diversity and inclusion principles doesn’t just apply to virtual delivery, it goes without saying that your course content should be free of implicit and explicit bias, and filtered through a multicultural lens. When is the last time you conducted a really thorough review of your learning modules?

This might all sound like a lot of effort, and it’s true that adopting an inclusive approach requires thorough planning and implementation. However, an improved learning experience for all will reap serious rewards in the long-term, not just for productivity, but for staff satisfaction, turnover, and your reputation.

When used effectively, digital learning creates a learning democracy, enabling all individuals to access the learning and skills development they need to succeed, and achieve their full potential.

It enables cross-working and a cross-fertilisation of skills that lead to truly dynamic, inclusive organisations, but for this to happen everyone must be fully considered and their needs met in the learning experience.

For further information or advice, Clare Brereton can be contacted at

Grant Thornton (NI) LLP specialises in audit, tax and advisory services.