What Are The Top Predictions for DEI in 2021?
Welcome to my weekly Q&A roundup. (Scroll down to find the Q&A.)
If this is your first time here, welcome. I spend a fair amount of time speaking at events and conferences. At the end of my presentations, I leave space for audience members to ask questions—tough questions, brave questions, you name it. The level of candor and curiosity always inspires me, and I want to share that sentiment with you. So each week, I pick one question that I believe others would find most instructive and publish my response to it here.
The purpose of this weekly tradition is transparency and inclusivity.
Transparency: a behind-the-scenes look at my day-to-day.
Inclusivity: bringing others along in the journey.
Predictions for DEI in 2021
Spoiler alert: 96% of CEOs that participated in an October Fortune/Deloitte survey said that DEI is a strategic priority for their organizations. And that’s not all. Fully 83% of the CEOs have set or plan to set measurable targets to ensure they’re hitting their DEI goals.
So when asked what my predictions are for DEI in 2021 (see Q&A below), I have a reason to respond optimistically. That said, survey results do not give us permission to rest on our laurels.
Scroll down for advice on how to move forward with DEI in the new year.
What are your predictions for DEI in 2021? (Asking on behalf of the HR department here.)
If the unpredictability of 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we can’t place all of our eggs in the what-we-expect-to-happen-based-on-predictions bucket. Yes, predictions help inform strategy, which in turn informs budget allocation and what gets done. That’s important. However, we can’t get too comfortable with predictions because they are not a substitute for agility¹.
If the weather app predicts sun but it ends up raining, what good is our sunblock? We need to be able (i.e. agile) to protect ourselves from the real elements, not the predicted ones. Did we bring an umbrella just in case? Do we have an impermeable layer tucked away in our backpack somewhere?
In the world of talent management, agility means creating systems, policies, and procedures so that our workforce can pivot at the push of a button.
It means building a workforce that displays resilience despite the circumstances. It means that no matter what happens in 2021, we have a workforce that can persevere because it’s powered by a culture of trust and belonging.
So how can you build an agile workforce with trust and belonging?
Now we’ve come full circle. Because to create a workforce that’s agile and anchored in trust and belonging, you need three ingredients: diversity, equity, and inclusion.
What does that look like in practice?
It’s not much different from other sound business strategies: it starts with metrics and accountability. (If it matters to you, measure it. If you want it to get done, measure it.) Use this guide as a starting point for collecting DEI metrics. And remember: a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace will help you and your organization endure through 2021 and beyond.
DEI-forward companies not only perform better in a strong economy, they are also better at surviving (and thriving through) economic downturns.
Between 2007 to 2009, while the S&P 500 declined 35%, businesses where women and people of color had “very positive experiences” saw their stocks rise an average of 14.4%.
Bottom line: Invest more time in closing intersectional gender gaps (because it’s the right thing and the smart thing) than in speculating over the future.
¹ To be sure, predictions matter and based on the data mentioned in the introduction plus the additional data below, we can expect DEI to take a leading role in 2021 business strategies.
90% of business leaders said that even with the pressures of COVID-19, DEI remains a moderate, very important, or top priority for their organizations
More than 30 large companies (including Amazon, Chevron, and Target) have shared or plan to share their diversity reports
Seven in ten job seekers want to work for a company that’s committed to diversity and inclusion
87% of organizations already have a diverse recruiting strategy for the class of 2021
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