Diversity, equity, and inclusion were top strategic priorities for organizations in 2021.
This story continues into 2022 as leaders across the globe are convinced of the benefits that these initiatives bring to the organization. Given the foothold that diversity, equity, and inclusion have made in the enterprise, in 2022 organizations must work towards developing workplace practices that will take these initiatives forward.
So, what will diversity and inclusion trends for 2022 look like?
Policies that push the DEI agenda in a hybrid workplace
That the hybrid workplace will define the new normal is no longer an assumption. A hybrid work environment provides organizations with greater opportunities to drive DEI initiatives and walk the talk by making more inclusive hiring decisions. Managers can access a wider pool of talent and make their search for talent more boundary less and approach a wider demographic pool for talent with the hybrid workplace. This becomes a great way to promote diversity and inclusion at work.
HR policies thus must lean more towards promoting the diversity, equity, and inclusion agenda right from recruitment. Onboarding experiences and talent development policies also need to become more aligned with DEI agendas and proactively work towards identifying high-potential employees from the DEI mix.
Identifying the challenges of those falling in the DEI spectrum will assume paramount importance as all eyes will be peeled on how organizations approach, enable, and drive DEI initiatives.
Addressing the challenges of a multigenerational workforce
The working population has never been as diverse as it is now. Spanning five different generations at work, we now have employees from the silent generation to Gen Z working in the same environment.
Their needs, however, are very different from each other as are their expectations from their professional lives. Since each of these generations brings in different life experiences, voices, and skill sets to the floor, HR managers and organizational leaders must identify strategies to engage and enable each of these generations to help them reach their truest potential.
Addressing their professional and personal development needs, gaps in EQ that need to be bridged, and helping them navigate a constantly evolving professional workplace will climb up the organizational priority list.
Delivering enablement through targeted coaching opportunities – whether to navigate the technical skills gap or form power skills like collaboration, empathy, and teamwork, etc. – will become critical contributors to organizational success. Peer coaching will emerge as a powerful tool to close the generational gap and help build a more cohesive and understanding work environment.
Identifying and eliminating unconscious bias
Nothing pushes back DEI initiatives like unconscious bias at work. Since human beings are a sum of their experiences, social conditioning, and the related unconscious biases can impact interactions at work.
Unconscious biases are the tendencies to process information and form opinions based on inherent prejudices towards certain individuals or groups. If unconscious bias remains unchecked, it impacts the relationships and the trust bridges within the organization.
The problem with unconscious bias is that it is, well, unconscious. Addressing bias also becomes hard since no one wants to be called biased. Hence, organizations need to move towards data-backed assessments to identify bias, help employees recognize bias, and assist them in taking corrective actions by implementing behavioral change to address bias.
Peer coaching plays an important role here to remove bias and build a deeper and more nuanced understanding of challenges faced by others and the power of privilege.
The focus on Equity in DEI initiatives
The focus on driving organizational equity will become even more forceful in the year ahead, especially as we navigate the new normal. While equality provides equal opportunity for everyone, workplace equity focuses on providing proportional representation for the same opportunities. Simply put, equity levels the playing field and makes it fairer.
What has become clear is that equity is a key enabler of diversity and inclusion. Organizations can go ahead and hire as many people as possible from diverse backgrounds. But unless all these people from different backgrounds are provided opportunities to excel, the DEI initiative will fail. True inclusion and diversity cannot be achieved without equity.
In 2022, organizations will have to take a hard look at their processes, values, and mindsets and identify ways to promote equity within the organization. Addressing unconscious bias, building emotional intelligence, and taking data-backed strategies to identify and develop high-performing employees become crucial for organizations, especially as these factors become drivers of retention, employee engagement, and experience.
Analytics to drive initiatives
Guesswork in DEI initiatives will have to take a backseat in 2022. Organizations will need granular data to take strategic calls on identifying ways to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion across the organization. While looking at recruitment data and training data will be important, it will be equally important to look at advancement data to calibrate steps to improve diversity programs.
Adding analytics to the DEI mix will also contribute towards designing specific, contextual, and targeted training and coaching programs to drive the behavioral change needed towards these initiatives.
With analytics, setting measurable targets for ensuring the success of these initiatives becomes possible. It ensures that the program is taken seriously. Analytics also improves the efficacy of DEI programs by helping HR teams identify the exact biases at work and makes coaching more targeted, continuous, and effective.
Peer coaching has to become a part of the learning and development initiatives to help drive better understanding, non-judgmental spaces, and access to helpful networks that promote employee growth, success, empathy, and understanding across the organization.
All these factors collectively contribute towards building a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable organization.
Along with these trends, organizations will also be paying close attention to sensitizing their leaders and managers towards DEI issues. Coaching the organizational leaders and managers, helping them identify their and others’ unconscious biases at work will assume paramount importance as diversity, equity, and inclusion become tools to attract and retain talent and drive positive organizational performance.