As you begin to make plans and allocate budgets for the year ahead, Xin Yi Yap, our Global Inclusion & Diversity Product Manager, presents three considerations for DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) work in 2023—including some action items you can get started on today.
1. Equity as the Focus, Diversity and Inclusion as the Outcome
Over the past couple of years, many organizations have focused on US-centric initiatives, such as on hiring people from historically marginalized communities, engaging in one-off DEI-related trainings, and releasing PR statements after being called out on social media for not being diverse or inclusive.
Organizations are starting to realize that such plans alone do not effect change, nor do they increase sustained engagement with their employees. Intense recruitment efforts were not often followed with effective onboarding strategies for those not from the dominant culture, whether that be organizational or societal. These efforts may have seemed like solutions, but research has shown that they achieve the opposite: In the tech industry alone, underrepresented people of color experience stereotyping at twice the rate of White and Asian employees, and 30% of underrepresented women of color are passed over for promotions.
Therefore, we are starting to see a more holistic approach to DEI, with more and more organizations infusing DEI into each area of their business instead of focusing on isolated efforts. Dr. Sam Rae has shared a great visual representation of what an organizational chart can look like with DEI at the center. Many have struggled to keep leadership teams accountable for important DEI work, and embedding DEI in this way is an effective way to ensure responsibility.
With this strategy, the focus is on structure rather than superficial change—process over outcome. Building and optimizing systems, policies, and practices to have DEI at their foundation—becoming more equitable—makes the work more effective and sustainable.
Actions you can take:
- Review or advocate for clearer policies to protect historically marginalized communities
- Consider ways you can embed DEI in your organization. Some examples include promoting Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and ERG-hosted events, and seeking out opportunities to build awareness of the diversity within your organization.
- Explore learning opportunities in Aperian—the Gender and Generational Diversity learning modules are a great place to start.
2. Difficult Dialogues are Key
For the first time in a long time, everyone around the world has been facing the same challenge: a global pandemic. As businesses try to “return to normal,” many are asking: “What has COVID taught us, and is it sticking?”
One of the most popular topics is in-person, remote, and hybrid work. Through the lens of the pandemic, we can see an intersection of issues. For many people of color in the United States, for example, returning to in-person work means returning to microaggressions, pressure to conform to biased standards of professionalism, and high stress and burnout rates. According to Future Forum, 97% of Black knowledge workers want the future of the office to be remote or hybrid. Additionally, Vyond and FleishmanHillard report that 45% of all employees and 50% of women say saving money by not needing to get dressed professionally is a benefit for them.
As difficult dialogues become more normalized in the workplace, equity is an increasingly important factor, as psychological safety and “courageous conversations” do not look the same nor result in the same outcomes for everyone.
Actions you can take:
- Embrace the conversations that are opening up around your co-workers’ personal lives and relationship with work. Prepare yourself and your leaders on what to do in these conversations.
- Take this 2-minute quiz to determine how psychologically safe your organization is, and consider areas for growth.
- Display empathy by keeping in mind how current affairs affect people differently. Dive into the differences rather than ignore them. Our Interactive Guide for the Compassionate Leader can be your guide.
3. Embracing Nuances
For organizations with a global footprint, it is essential to embrace nuances. What is accepted in one culture may not be in others. Many DEI initiatives traditionally have been focused on problems and efforts distinct to the United States, but today it is important to implement DEI efforts with a localized cultural lens.
Pairing DEI with culture prompts us to ask questions such as:
- Who gets to make big decisions, and how are those decisions made?
- What is the dominant culture within the workplace?
- What does this bias mean for those who are not from that culture?
It’s imperative to give thought to the many different backgrounds, environments, and identities of your staff, learn about their significance in various communities, and show respect for them. Equitable and inclusive multinational businesses embrace the learning of nuances that come with collaborating across differences.
Actions you can take:
- Invest in learning about cultures outside of the headquarters location. The 100+ GlobeSmart Guides in Aperian, which contain country-specific DEI information, are a great place to start.
- Evaluate existing policies to determine if they’re inclusive, especially when they relate to working across geographical distances. Determine if these policies are centered around a particular culture, and if diverse staff members are part of the decision-making process.
- Make an effort to infuse elements of culture into daily work, while making sure to avoid stereotyping. This could be using colloquial phrases, promoting cultural celebrations, and demonstrating a genuine interest when colleagues share about themselves.
With the future of DEI in mind, we can start your staff on a meaningful inclusion learning journey tailored to your organization’s needs, goals, and plans for 2023 and beyond.