Technology giants Google and Amazon are pursuing diversity training with the help of virtual reality reported The Washington Post. Praxis Labs’ VR is the preferred platform by the said companies including Target, Uber, and eBay.
In the past, companies conduct diversity training using PowerPoint presentations or courses which employees can simply click through to finish. These traditional methods are deemed easy to finish even without learning about inclusion and diversity.
To combat this issue, companies are using Praxis Labs’ VR system called Pivotal Experiences to help individuals simulate a first-hand experience of bias and discrimination in the workplace.
Employees are immersed in a virtual reality environment to teach them how to respond to such situations. The social issues tackled in the program include implicit bias, ageism, and other similar types of work discrimination.
The VR tool requires users to speak to avatars to create a more effective teaching experience. They are then required to reflect on what happened inside the environment to maximize learning.
Praxis Labs is a curriculum development startup firm. Just last month, the company was able to acquire $3.2 million in a seed funding round participated by SoftBank’s SB Opportunity Fund.
Praxis Labs co-founder and chief executive are optimistic about the potentials of its VR tool. Smith said, “By providing perspective-taking and immersive experiences that build empathy, we’re helping to build understanding.”
“By providing opportunities to practice interventions, we’re helping to change how people actually act in the workplace.”
This platform came at a crucial time when current political and economic situations are highlighting disparities and discrimination in many aspects of life, including the labor force.
Kavitha Mariappan, diversity efforts leader for cloud security platform Zscaler, said, “If the last 12 months have shown us anything, it has brought to light what has been around for a very long time.”
Mariappan added, “There’s a certain level of corporate urgency around having to act on diversity and inclusion rather than just being aware.”
Empathy VR pioneer and Emblematic Group founder Nonny de la Pena believes that effective and sufficient immersion in such situations can help address discrimination.
de la Pena said, “By putting people on the scene, at a real situation, these invisible situations suddenly become visible.”
Smith agrees with this saying, “If we can see someone is experiencing boas or discrimination or there’s something truly hard to speak up. And the only way to change that is by building that muscle.”