When it comes to diversity and inclusion (D&I), this year saw great strides made in moving the needle on how businesses not only talk about D&I with their employees, but how they are proactively acting on it to ensure business success.
For one, 2018 was the year that 100 percent of qualifying businesses reported their gender pay gap, this helped a number of organisations have richer conversations about the position of women in the workforce.
As we see more and more companies publish their second annual report in the coming months, we’ll begin to visibly see what they’re actually doing to change. Whilst lots have begun those conversations, businesses know they have to answer. Next year will be the opportunity for businesses to show they’re serious about diversity and inclusion.
But gender pay reporting is only a fraction of where D&I still needs to go to ensure organisations are properly fostering an environment that promotes diversity and inclusivity for all its employees.
In the coming year, the power of transparency will be key in order to improve diversity and inclusion efforts: and any good business leader will know how important it is to talk openly about it to their audience – whether that’s a stakeholder, customer or employee.
For example, if their people don’t hear them saying it, then they won’t realise the benefit and will struggle to act on it. At the end of the day, in today’s current climate, anyone connected to an organisation in any capacity wants to hear how the company feels about D&I and what they're doing about it.
The time has passed for apologising, 2019 should be about taking action and ensuring they are facilitating an entirely diverse and inclusive workforce.
In light of this, here are my top five predictions for what we should expect from D&I in the coming year:
- Increasing globalisation – For organisations with a presence in two or more countries, more will be asking the pressing question – how can we support global efforts? As such, we’re likely to see more global Diversity & Inclusion roles come to fruition. It’s important that D&I activity doesn’t take place in an isolated way (i.e. by country), but instead across an entire organisation.
- Organisations will reform how they apporach gender recognition interally – In light of the announcement that the Government will be reviewing the Gender Recognition Act to help trans people recieve legal recognition of their acquired gender, we’ll likely see more organisations reform how they approach this internally. At the moment, many organisations put too many artificial barriers on trans people – for example, simple processes such as taking too long to change their name and details within the business. Respecting how people choose to identify themselves, by making the transition as smooth as possible, is especially important, as it helps trans people feel more engaged and productive, instead of wasting energy trying to supress who they really want to be in the workplace.
- More focus on engaging men in gender equality activities – Encouraging more men to become agents of real change will become more of a focus for organisations. Whilst not neccesarily new, there’s been a real heightened awareness and debate in the media recently about men needing to step up and be really active in this. For one, exclusive women-only networks will need to change. Although a good intention in principle, any networks or initiatives should open to both men and women, particularly as everyone needs to be thinking about this. Seeing more and more people stepping forward and become allies, will be key to getting more on board with D&I.
- A widening D&I lens – Increasingly we know that companies need to support everyone, but unfortunately too many still separate people into boxes. For example, if you look at big companies within the FTSE 500 – most focus primarily on gender diversity and not the other aspects. But, because a mix of factors impact our experience of the workplace, organisations will need to recognise that D&I not as simple as separating people into boxes. Currently companies are treating diversity in siloed ways but I enisage in the next year, organisations will start to recognise the importance of adopting a more holistic apporach to D&I.
- Customer-focused – Whilst most companies are still focusing on diversity in terms of talent retention and acquisition, making sure they‘re leveraging this diversity to create market-relevant products and solutions that really work for all customers will be a focus for many. Take the success of Rihanna’s beauty range, which serves all different skin tones and colours in a way mainstream beauty companies don’t. Next year, we’ll see a significant shift in how organisations view D&I – as serving customers as well as talent.
Sarah Kaiser, Diversity & Inclusion Lead, Fujitsu