With each passing year, the landscape in the world of diversity, equity and inclusion evolves. There are landmark years like 2020 and years of struggle like 2021. Whichever way 2022 moves will largely be determined by the trends we see playing out in the world of corporate diversity and the actions leaders take around those trends.
The coming year is also one in which action is direly needed. The past year has been defined by a lot of talk, resulting in high turnover rates within diversity and HR departments and an underwhelming lack of action and progress. Here are some of the trends we expect to become a bigger part of DEI discussions in 2022 and how they’re likely to impact corporate diversity initiatives.
AI and Tech in Recruiting
While it’s true that bias can creep into AI, vendors have been finetuning the technology to weed out those biases and provide a solution that can help highlight when it’s present in your organization’s hiring process.
Beyond the bias training and increased ability to create data-informed decision-making, AI automates a range of workflows and tasks assessments, allowing recruiters and HR staff to focus on higher-value and more human-centric aspects of the recruiting process. A good example is the cultivation of a customized candidate experience that reflects your organization’s values around diversity tailored to each prospect during a time when a candidate’s willingness to walk away is at an all-time high.
Diverse Partners and Suppliers
Determining how well a company is doing with DEI involves factoring internal and external practices, such as the diversity of the organization’s partners and suppliers. It’s a reflection of their external inclusion policies and something that the general public is taking a greater interest in as they examine not only what your organization looks like but how it does business.
As companies begin to scale, increasing the number of independent contractors and outsourcing certain functions to vendors, how a company treats the acquisition and support of those groups will come under increasing scrutiny. An internal audit should be conducted to ensure diversity and consideration among all current partners and suppliers. Acquiring this insight (including updating policies where needed) will help any organization improve future practices and facilitate business sustainability.
COVID-19 and the Impact on Inclusion and Equity
The pandemic has created a number of challenges for companies as they navigate attempts to bring employees back into offices. Employees will have a range of views on those efforts, from those who don’t want to get vaccinated to those struggling with anxiety around a full return to those who are juggling caretaking duties or even dealing with COVID-19 cases in their homes.
As a result, more patience around COVID-19-related issues will be required from everyone in the organization. Infrastructure and common practices around team meetings and important announcements need to be adapted to be as inclusive of everyone as possible. Some companies have offered to let their employees work remotely permanently but not pay them as much as on-site employees. Inequities like these will only create division in the workplace and demonstrate that you value employees less based on their health profile or circumstances. In 2022, considerations like this will continue to challenge every HR and diversity team.
Development of Inclusive Leadership
The need for inclusive executives and executive-recruiting practices is fairly obvious. In 2022, however, inclusivity should permeate the entire organization — leadership and the workforce. That means managers, directors, all the way down to the entry levels of the organization.
This effort will start with managers as they are the first to deal with varying employee needs around remote work, technology assistance, flexible scheduling, sick time and even conversations around compensation. If managers are developing inclusive practices, and it is also reflected in the levels of leadership above, employees are more likely to believe inclusivity is a core value of the organization.
Expansion of Job Requirements
Job requirements have long been a method of gatekeeping and communicating the expectations of a role to a potential candidate. However, they often focus on highly specialized skills or knowledge. This overemphasis on “hard skills” without factoring or even disregarding relevant “soft skills” is something many companies may have to rethink in an era of low retention and a broader workforce in need of reskilling or upskilling.
The fact is skills can be taught. What can’t be taught are values, the ability to communicate, good time management, a growth mindset or a strong work ethic. Some of the required skills companies list in job descriptions frequently deter diverse candidates from consideration even though they exhibit attributes of learning the technical aspects quickly while already possessing the soft skills needed for success.
For women, in particular, the feeling of not possessing all the necessary skills tends to be a major hurdle. According to an internal report from Hewlett-Packard, women only apply for a job if they meet 100% of the qualifications, whereas men will try if they meet as little as 60%.
By expanding job requirements to include the skills and traits of people from different education and experience levels, companies can focus on potential and how well a person will fit within the organization rather than merely being focused on their ability to complete tasks. This approach will also open positions to a wider, more diverse pool of candidates.