Diversity and Inclusion In 2021
In our earlier article, we talked about the rising significance of the role of Diversity and Inclusion in the corporate world. We provided some tips on managing a healthy Diversity and an Inclusive mindset at the workplace, in the COVID-19 situation, where most people are now working from home. We also touched upon why its important to keep up the momentum behind the push to Diversity and Inclusion at the workplace, and how it can be lost in the remote work situation. And lastly, we provided some tips to effectively manage Diversity and Inclusion at your workplace.
As we are nearing the end of a very eventful year, we would like to do our part in keeping the drive for diversity alive. Now we will go over how we can ensure that we are prepared for diversity and inclusion at the workplace in 2021.
Increase in Focus on D&I
There has been an increase in the amount of active conversations taking place around D&I. Fortune 500 recently announced that they will be including D&I rankings in their list of Fortune 500 companies. This should not come as a surprise to anyone following Fortune, who have claimed it to be a part of a broader strategy to aim at corporate diversity disclosure. This is a direct response to the rise in questions around Diversity and Inclusion at workplace and the need for more transparent measures for achieving these goals. This initiative will help participants to deliver measurable returns by setting goals, sharing knowledge and methodologies and work collaboratively.
Employers too are self-reporting their progress for diversity and inclusion. Companies like PwC and Glassdoor, just to name a few examples, are already self-reporting starting this year. Companies such as Target and PepsiCo have three to five-year plans for increasing the percentage of Blacks, Hispanic and other people from diverse backgrounds in their workforce, from lower level employees to managerial roles.
Prestigious universities like Harvard have already started initiatives to enable leadership and community-wide learning and development, strategic planning and assessing and enhancing cultures when it comes to Diversity and Inclusion. Harvard’s TH Chain School of Public Health has started setting up foundations for the elevation of diverse cultures and practices, reducing biases, and building awareness.
Benefits of D&I
Inclusion is very important for workplaces and it has some very tangible benefits to organizations. It helps the employees feel more included. It makes sure that each individual feels like there voice is being heard and that there opinions are not being suppressed due to biases. This helps improve employee engagement. An individual gives more thought and effort to his or her work if they feel like their opinion matters in the workplace. This affects the overall team dynamics and the morale of the team. The long term benefit is that retention rates go up.
It also helps in the improvement of the mental health at workplace. In a survey conducted recently it was found that organizations with active D&I initiatives show a significantly higher percentage of employee engagement. Due to higher engagement work efficiency increases, which in turn increases the overall output of the team or the workforce. This kind of a healthy environment helps breed better ideas too.
Where the Industry is lagging behind?
Even though there has been an increase in focus on D&I, and these initiatives have become an important point in strategizing for company officials, there are major stumbling blocks in the path of making D&I an industry wide concern. Major problems that affect these initiatives are limited budgets, lack of ownership and lack of clarity on measurable outcomes. Recent surveys have revealed that there is still a lack of clarity on how to measure success of initiatives which result in D&I approaches that are not exactly based on tried and tested approaches and practices.
There is still a lot ground to be covered for D&I to become a norm in the industry. There is a lack of representation and many companies in the S&P 500 Index do not even have a chief diversity officer or other executive level positions to help push D&I into top level decisions. Also, for the companies that do have top level employees actively focusing on D&I, more than 60% have been recent hires, as close as 2019.
Prejudice and bias in workplace are not obviously apparent, and many companies are only now taking a deeper look at their organization structure and workplace and identifying potential gap areas. This is necessary, because even if there are executive roles dedicated to D&I, that does not mean that the inclusive mindset trickles down to all levels of the organization. This is more prominent in larger organizations with over 1000 employees because they are spread thin and might lose clarity on how D&I initiatives are progressing.
Having a diverse workforce also does not necessarily mean that the organization follows the principles of inclusion. Recent studies have found that even if companies are recognized as being diverse, with 9 in 10 people agreeing to the fact, there is still a lack ofinclusivity with only 3 in 10 people recognizing their organization as truly inclusive. A global survey conducted by Accenture showcased a wide gap between the percentages of business leaders and employees agreeing on whether their organization was inclusive.
Biden’s Administration and its Effect on D&I
Biden’s campaign has not been silent on the racial disparities and the problems of people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. The Obama – Biden administration had famously been a pro-LGBTQ administration and supported the diversity initiatives. If Biden’s campaign is anything to go by, then we can expect a boost to the push Diversity and Inclusion from the new administration.
Biden has indicated that there will be a quick repeal of some of Trump’s policies. His comments suggest that there will be a call for more diversity from the federal contractors in the US, during his tenure. The Biden administration is expected to push for more transparency on issues such as pay disparities.
There could also be a mandate in the works for diversity requirements at organizations. This is a positive shift because more diversity and inclusion has proven to be a good thing for organizations time and time again.
This is the right time to think and strategize about D&I in your organization. It may seem like an imprudent investment right now; it is necessary because of the shifts we are seeing across sectors. With a new administration and top-level players pushing for more and more diversity and inclusion, it is a good idea to start taking serious steps in this direction failing which your organization can be left behind in a competitive market.
Senior leadership should start developing strategies, build buy-in, and secure resources for D&I initiatives. Then organizations should align managers with the strategy. It is important to understand their expectations and create feedback loops and metrics that lend transparency to the process.
To succeed in 2021, agencies will have to evolve and work on their culture and values. They should create a focused strategy and pave the way to encourage employees to learn how to be inclusive.