Katharina Cavano l Palladium - Jan 06 2021
3 Diversity & Inclusion Trends to Watch in 2021

Source: WOC in Tech Chat

From racial injustice to equitable access to healthcare, the challenges of 2020 have highlighted the need for organisations to take stock of their practices and focus in on their Diversity & Inclusion strategies. Doing so will not only improve their bottom line but leverage their power and influence to build more inclusive societies.

As we head into 2021, Dr Rosanna Duncan, Chief Diversity Officer at Palladium, anticipates a few key trends we can expect to see and how this tumultuous year may affect organisations and their practices moving forward.

More Diverse Hiring…and Less ‘Tokenism’

As the Black Lives Matter movement shone light on continued inequalities, many organisations are moving towards more diverse hiring practices. And while we know that creating true diversity of thought across an organisation can add value to the business, hiring for diversity must be done by breaking down conscious and unconscious biases – not by setting quotas.

“Is more diverse hiring a good thing?” Duncan asks. “Yes, organisations should have strategies in place to attract and retain diverse hires. But if a company is hiring diverse candidates for diversity’s sake alone, then the risk is tokenism, which is harmful and isn’t necessary when there is an abundance of diverse talent out there.”

“Organisations need to do more to identify, attract, and retain diverse hires, and part of that process involves understanding which groups are underrepresented in the workforce and why,” she notes. This information can be used to help organisations set targets and shape strategy, which will increase diversity in a meaningful way. But setting quotas is not the answer to creating more inclusivity.

To mitigate this risk, Duncan recommends establishing hiring and recruitment practices that tap into networks that will provide access to candidates from a broader, more diverse pool.

“Companies need to be more intentional around where and how they advertise their jobs,” she explains. “If they tap into new and more diverse networks led by people with lived experiences or involvement in different areas, they can actually connect with candidates beyond the normal pool.”

Fostering an Open Culture

The past year has been dominated by social movements, requiring us all to hold space for the difficult conversations to follow. According to Duncan, organisations have an opportunity to encourage and build a culture of openness and transparency in the spirit of tolerance.

“We must be open and transparent and have difficult conversations,” she says. “Organisations are going to need to create safe spaces for employees and drive home the point that people will make mistakes – we’re all on a learning and discovery journey. We all have a role to play in helping people to learn, especially if they’re coming from a position of honesty.”

Duncan warns that in creating an open culture, people must be prepared to receive feedback if they say or do something that isn’t aligned with principles of equity and inclusion. “This type of feedback is a gift and should be used for growth and change,” she adds.

Supporting Mental Health and Wellbeing

Even before COVID-19, companies had a responsibility in supporting the mental health of their employees. But as more organisations have shifted to remote work in the midst of a global pandemic, there’s an even greater focus on ensuring that there are support systems in place for taking care of employee and stakeholder mental health.

“Organisations have a key role to play in building stronger economies and more inclusive societies, with the resilience to not only overcome the current crisis, but to withstand the next,” says Duncan. “The mental health of all stakeholders, from employees to customers to shareholders to supply chains, cannot be discounted as we set out to accomplish this important work.”

During these unprecedented times, organisations must recognise that the way they behave now will be remembered for years to come, leaving an indelible mark on their people and communities.