January 21, 2021
A new year offers new opportunities to raise the bar on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Successful organizations understand that diversity and inclusion is good for business. DEI can increase innovation, employee engagement and retention and improve decision-making, brand reputation and profitability. In 2021, organizations should be prepared to adapt DEI initiatives to address workplace trends and evolving work environments.
Among the DEI workplace trends to watch for in 2021 include:
1. Wellbeing and DEI
An important part of advancing DEI is providing inclusive benefits that support employees’ mental, emotional, physical and financial health and wellbeing. This includes offering health insurance, childcare programs, employee assistance programs and other resources (all accessible online) to help employees be productive, manage stress and prevent burnout.
2. Remote Working and DEI
With more employees working from home (WFH) — some permanently — organizations need to build DEI into WFH policies and processes, including recruiting and hiring. Other ways to cultivate DEI when employees aren’t onsite include finding new ways to communicate, to bring people and teams together and ensure that all employees have access to technology, resources and managers’ time. Further, regularly checking in with employees, being empathetic and responsive to their concerns and offering flexible schedules and other resources can foster a sense of belonging during these uncertain times.
3. Talent Management and DEI
A recent Harris Poll for Glassdoor, the workplace ratings site, found that 76% of US employees and job seekers said that a diverse workforce is important when evaluating companies and job offers. It’s higher for applicants and employees who are Black and Hispanic (80%) and LGBTQ (79%). Aligning talent management and professional development with DEI initiatives and goals includes reviewing processes and practices to identify and remove bias — both conscious and unconscious — and establishing mentoring programs that focus on developing diverse employees into diverse leaders.
4. Workplace Culture and DEI
Strengthening workplace culture and improving opportunities for underrepresented individuals and groups is a continuous process. While every organization is different, in a strong DEI culture employees feel comfortable asking questions, raising concerns and reporting incidents of bias, racism, discrimination and harassment, without the fear of retaliation for standing up and speaking out. In 2021, allyship, empathy and building trust through real actions will continue to be important elements in creating and maintaining a DEI culture.
A new year is an opportunity for organizations to demonstrate a visible commitment to DEI and adapt initiatives to reflect the workplace trends of 2021. While there is no single approach, experts agree that a comprehensive strategy is needed to embed DEI in the workplace culture and the decisions, behaviors, policies, processes and training that support it.
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