In a recent survey of 200 senior HR leaders, diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives emerged as the top strategic priorities for 2021.
The year 2022 will probably be no different.
HR leaders across the globe are convinced that building a diverse and inclusive culture greatly helps in attracting and retaining top talent. In fact, with 2020 and 2021 being the years of addressing a raft of diversity and inclusion issues, 2022 could be a big year for DE&I.
In this post, we will throw light on the diversity and inclusion trends HR leaders can expect to see in the coming year.
1. An Expanding Hybrid-Remote Workforce
Though most remote managers are concerned about employee productivity and focus, 98% of those surveyed would like the option to work remotely for the rest of their careers. The benefits of remote working are far too many but not everything is positive about going all-remote.Lack of collaboration, loneliness, inability to unplug from work, and distractions at home are a few of the top struggles of remote workers. Moreover, not all firms can wind up their office space and go all remoteHence, in the coming year, you can expect organizations to find a middle ground, blending in-office and remote working models. Several companies, namely HubSpot, Dropbox, Slack, Spotify, MailChimp, and more are embracing the hybrid-remote style of working to get the best of both worlds.The model gives employees a set of options that typically include a remote option, a flexible option (working from the office for 2-3 days a week), and an in-office option.
2. AI in Recruiting
AI is becoming ubiquitous in enterprise recruiting. A Gartner report reveals that two-thirds of early AI adopters are using AI-based solutions in their HR function and plan to double the number of projects by the end of 2022.
Talent acquisition and recruiting are central to any HR team. AI-driven processes and tools can add immense value to enterprise recruiting. It’s not just transforming HR function’s performance but also removing unconscious bias and improving diversity and inclusion.
Most organizations adopting AI in the HR space are focusing on three core areas -
For instance, AI can transform the traditional hiring process by making job listings more discoverable to potential candidates. AI-powered chatbots have also become a common tool for HR teams who use them for the initial phases of applicant screening and interview scheduling.
Meanwhile, AI-powered tools like Joonko connect with a firm’s application tracking system (ATS) to find pre-qualified talent from underrepresented sectors. The AI-enabled diversity-first recruiting tool is designed to remove human bias and error and help recruiters bring in already-vetted candidates of racial, ethnic and gender minorities.
Somewhat similar to AI is NLP or natural language processing that’s proving to revolutionize sourcing, screening, and assessing candidates. Using NLP, recruiters can quickly identify candidates. The technology is also being combined with voice recognition to ensure quicker review and analysis of job interviews.
In the coming years, you can expect a growing number of companies leveraging AI to improve their HR processes. The technology will only become more advanced and sophisticated, making it a significant part of recruitment and hiring.
It will be incumbent on HR leaders and hiring managers to find innovative ways to build a highly efficient and personalized candidate experience. To achieve this, they will need to count on AI by automating workflows, stages, and assessments.
3. Multigenerational Workforce
With five generations at the workplace, today’s work environment is truly multigenerational. Thanks to the firms upholding diversity and inclusion, many of them have employees ranging from ageing baby boomers to Generation Z in the workplace.
Each of these groups has its own set of ideas, views, experiences, and aspirations. Hence, such a diverse workforce will require a much more collaborative, networked, and fluid workplace where each cohort is equally engaged.
In a recent Deloitte survey, more than half of the respondents shared that organizations should consider generational differences when designing and delivering employee programs. However, only 6% of respondents strongly agree that their leaders are equipped to lead a multigenerational workforce effectively.
For instance, HR teams need to be equipped enough to combat generational bias and stereotypes. Mostorganizations pretend that these do not exist. Instead, they should acknowledge and contemplate the differences and harness the strengths of each generation. Moreover, they need to train the teams to confront age-based stereotypes through role-playing exercises.
Such initiatives will bring several misconceptions to the forefront, making employees aware of their assumptions and building a harmonized multigenerational team.
Going forward, it will be important for organizations to adapt their HR initiatives to uphold a multigenerational workforce. HR leaders will play a prime role in fostering an environment where employees of all generations feel valued. Thus, they need to ensure that their DE&I initiatives are solving real and pressing problems.
4. Increasing Support for Employee Mental Health
One of the top things that battling the COVID pandemic for two years has brought to the forefront is the awareness of mental health. Gartner confirms that by March 2021, 68% of organizations had introduced at least one mental health and wellness initiative to aid and support their teams during this period.
The pandemic caused increased stress levels among people who were constantly worrying about their health, families, kids’ education, and job security.
In a 2021 Lyra Health Study, one-quarter of 1000 working adults reported their mental health declined over the past year, with the diagnosable mental health conditions doubling. Further, 71% of candidates now expect their prospective employers to offer mental health benefits.
Thus, HR teams started prioritizing mental health and creating wellness and employee assistance programs.For instance, Salesforce started scheduling routine ‘Wellbeing Fridays’ when they say that their employees weren’t taking vacations. The employees were encouraged to take a mandated day off to disconnect from their screens.
PwC announced that all the employees would receive a $250 bonus each time they took a full week’s vacation. Similarly, many companies have introduced ongoing health and safety policies around coronavirus. A few instituted special time-away policies for their employees to care for their loved ones suffering from COVID-19. Others rolled out flexible work from home policies for employees who are uncomfortable returning to offices.
After the challenges and disappointments faced by a majority of people in 2020 and 2021, companies further realized the importance of employee wellbeing and mental health.
In the coming year, you can expect more firms to de-stigmatize mental health by expanding mental health benefits. Companies will continue to build a culture of compassion and empathy and invest their resources to meet their employees’ mental and physical needs.
5. More Transparency in Diversity Goals
Diversity and inclusion is the cornerstone of every organization that desires to win and retain top talent, improve customer experience, and boost financial performance. In fact, McKinsey’s research clearly links diversity to financial performance.
No wonder, several companies have committed to diversity and inclusion. In a JUST Capital’s survey of 890 firms, 86% disclosed a diversity and equal opportunity (D&EO) policy, exhibiting their strong commitment to diversity.
However, only 11% were transparent about disclosing their actual and measurable targets.
This data clearly shows that companies aren’t ready to disclose their progress on diversity and inclusion data.
However, this will change in 2022 as an increasing number of organisations ramp up their D&I initiatives and are more equipped to uphold diversity.
Giant companies like PwC believe that transparency can contribute to progress in the field of D&I. Hence, they continue to share detailed data on the diversity of their employees.
Such detailed reports are bound to persuade organizations to move faster in achieving their D&I goals. An increasing number of businesses are recognizing that transparency grounds everything and throws light on areas they can improve.
Diversity and inclusion have emerged as major factors impacting organizational performance and success. Throughout 2020 and 2021 the world experienced cultural and sociopolitical factors that would impact the D&I landscape in the years to come.
The above-mentioned D&I trends are core for HR leaders looking to build a strong culture and efficient processes around D&I. Being aware of these trends will help them find solutions that not only uphold robust D&I programs but also offer actionable insights backed by data.