When an organization puts diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into its culture, it allows everyone to see things from a more inclusive perspective to enhance belonging for the team. In fact, companies who practice DEI outperform comparable companies by 7.1%. So - what DEI trends in the labor force should leaders be paying attention to? Below are 5 emerging trends you’ll want to consider in order to create a more inclusive workplace of the future.
- Prioritize DEI for retention - DEI should be focused on during the entire employee experience, not only the onboarding portion. In other words, strong DEI initiatives will help you retain your current employees. Focus on equity and compensation, and create professional development opportunities.
- Don’t forget the female population! Nearly 3 million women left the workforce in the US alone during the pandemic due to family obligations - a good number of women have still not returned. PTO, sick leave, and flextime are important for your female employees. Accommodate flexible work hours for child transportation and care. Allowing remote work eliminates the need for commuting, which in turn allows for more time devoted to family responsibilities. Offer child and elder care options as part of your benefits or perks packages to incentivize your female employees. Lastly, if you are in-office or hybrid, continue COVID-19 safety protocols.
- Accommodations for people with disabilities (PWD) - Similar to what we shared in our first point, the idea is to hire people based strictly on their skill sets. If there are disabilities that hinder someone from being their most productive selves, have the conversations and implement the necessary accommodations to help everyone within your organization thrive. A good place to start is the Americans with Disabilities Act - this is the bare minimum when trying to build out these policies.
- Consider if remote work is the best arrangement - It’s imperative to ask employees what will help them work best and supplement with the tools and resources needed - regardless of their work environment. Not everyone will have connection to high-speed internet, ergonomic equipment, or a dedicated workspace. As mentioned before, a good portion of your employees will be parents or caregivers. Be mindful of last-minute meetings as they may present a challenge if your employee is remote.
Another aspect to keep in mind is to treat all team members equally, regardless of whether they will be in-office or working remote. Some questions to ask yourself: Will you automatically give the person who is onsite a promotion over the one who is not? Do employees feel pressured to come into the office, even though company policy says that remote work is an option?
- Build DEI into training and development initiatives - Don’t just make it an afterthought, but provide the opportunities for individuals within your organization to compete with each other on even footing. Individuals come from all walks of life and financial situations. Provide training, resources, or tools that may be lacking for all individuals to excel. Your employees will be able to tell you what they need, so create the space to have those conversations as well.
While these 5 ideas are a great place to begin or add to your DEI program, the first step should be to meet with your team to understand what needs to be immediately addressed. If you are putting together informational DEI courses or team bonding experiences, it’s key to follow up after these events and trainings to cement what has been learned. DEI must be at the forefront of everything you do in your organization to ensure belonging and a consistent employee experience.