The age of inclusion is here; all stakeholders want to know where an organisation stands on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI). As a result, more companies are taking an affirmative stand towards their DEI policies.
As organizations begin setting their 2022 goals, here’s a look at some of the DEI trends that we see emerging.
Trend #1 Lasting impact of Covid-19
In 2020, organisations were forced to quickly move to remote work. But with time, many have chosen a variety of approaches to the workplace; some returning to the office, while others have permanently embraced remote working. But a majority have switched to a “hybrid” model of the workplace.
Organizations will continue to use the DEI lens in the Covid era by asking the following questions:
- Will coming to work full-time set up a path for higher pay, fast track promotions or being allocated more projects, as opposed to those who choose remote/hybrid work?
- Will a hybrid environment cause a different set of biases to crop up and create them vs us of a different kind?
- Will employees from minority groups feel safer and less discriminated against while working remotely or will they feel even more excluded?
Trend #2 The changing face of Unconscious Bias interventions
Unconscious bias (UB) training is not the new kid on the block. But there is going to be a shift in the way interventions are designed and implemented:
Switching gears from just managers and leaders to include all employees (because we all have biases!) through engaging internal communication campaigns. Organizations recognize that all employees from the ground up need to be sensitized for a culture shift and a lasting impact.
Many organisations will start conducting periodic employee engagement surveys to understand the impact of UB training to assess shift in aspects such as company culture and employee experiences, which will help in deciding the next course of action.
Trend #3 Supporting Gender Identity and Expression
The decriminalization of LGBTQ+ in 2018 in India has opened new frontiers for corporations to expand their inclusion policies. Since then, we have seen corporations pledge their support by changing brand colours to LGBTQ+ flag colours during Pride month. Some have gone further ahead, with progressive policies such as same-sex partner benefits, extending employee healthcare benefits to gender-reaffirming surgeries, and creating equal opportunity workplaces.
2022 will see a new wave of support with organisations moving beyond setting the foundation to actively supporting gender identity and expression. These will include:
Use of Gender-inclusive language and communication.
- Focused and increased hiring of gender non-binary and transgender folx.
- Offering gender-neutral washrooms and creating employee support groups (ESG).
- Initiating a consistent conversation and education around LGBTQ+ and gender-inclusivity within the organisation by observing significant days through a DEI calendar.
Trend #4 Addressing the invisible aspects of DEI
Not all exclusionary, discriminatory behaviors are evident. It usually takes the form of microaggressions (e.g., a joke made in passing), unconscious bias and systemic discrimination (e.g., When LGBTQ+ members are considered as weak candidates for leadership roles). These can cause the employees from the marginalized groups to feel “less-than”, as a result, they will continue to be reserved/not reach their full potential or may even consider switching jobs for a more inclusive workplace.
Hence many organisations will:
- Conduct talent process analysis to surface systemic blind spots and work out ways to fix them.
- Conduct employee touchpoint analysis by placing themselves in employee shoes to understand places where microaggressions might be taking place within the organisation.
Trend #5 Making Communications inclusive
While policy changes are a good way to demonstrate commitment towards inclusion, it is the small things that make or break the intervention.
We will see a shift in communication:
- A shift from “male, able-bodied, fitting the set moulds” visuals to one with increased representation of diversity- different ethnic groups, genders and abilities and other diversity forms, in all promotional materials, company websites and induction brochures.
- Employees will be asked how they identify, which will be seen in employment forms. For example, under the box of Gender, the following options will be provided- Male / Female / Non-Binary / Transgender. Pronouns will have the column of He / She / They / Preferred Pronouns.
- Usage of Alt-text to make communication accessible for blind and visually challenged people will find wider adoption in workplace communications.
Trend #6 Role of Allyship
Allyship interventions-will go beyond LGBTQ+ to all diversity strands. The Black Lives Matter movement has demonstrated the need to look at Allyship as a whole and not in isolation to certain groups.
Some of the things we can expect in 2022:
- Workshops on Allyship
- Help employees understand what allyship means and ways by which they can be an ally to their coworkers.
Trend #7 Use of AI powered solutions to support DEI at workplace
With the economy strained by covid-19, thinning margins and tightening up of operations the need to source large volumes of candidates and hire top talent is at an all-time high.
AI powered tools will help to source, attract, retain and train the best available talent.
When evaluating potential employers many job seekers now value workplace diversity. Thus, organisations will create a higher diversity mix of employees, by accessing, searching and reducing biases in selection process through tools such as CV masking.
Learning and Development teams will use AI to create custom training experiences and offer hyper personalised development programs.
Trend #8 From Diversity numbers to Inclusivity
As the conversation on DEI evolves, inclusivity and equity will take center stage over achieving specific diversity targets: The need will be to not only increase representation but also offer meaningful and sustainable careers to the historically excluded groups. In order to accomplish this, all talent processes will come under the scanner for inclusivity and to assess the bias hotspots embedded in them. For example, are promotions geared towards applauding extroverts over introverts? Or are learning programs skewed to celebrate a certain skill- an excessive emphasis on analytical skills for example, even if it is not required to be successful in the role.
2022 will turn a new leaf and we can expect to see many exciting initiatives which will change the way all stakeholders perceive organisations. Do join the conversation below and let me know your thoughts on this year’s trends.