Diversity and Inclusion Trends

Many businesses agree that diversity and inclusion are economic and business imperatives. Leaders have long recognized the benefits of diversity in selling products and services to diverse consumers. The impact of recent legislative decisions has required that organizations be more responsive to the growing needs and concerns of the workforce; to provide safe and inclusive environments and career opportunities. Regardless of political views, it’s obvious that opposing values and beliefs can create separation and divisiveness in the workplace. Strong leadership is needed now, more than ever to manage the evolving workforce demands while simultaneously building bridges to improved business performance.

The diversity conversation in business is increasing. Leaders must take control of the conversation by creating organizational cultures where different points of view are respected, encouraged and discussed. The pressure to diversify their workforce has grown and will continue to grow, thereby making hiring and development organizational priorities, requiring higher levels of employee engagement and focused leadership efforts.

Implicit or unconscious bias continues to make its way into the mainstream. Implicit bias refers to the attitudes and stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions and decisions in an unconscious way. These biases are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control. Organizations are training their managers and employees to mitigate the influence of implicit biases in decision-making.

Cultural competence has entered the landscape. What is cultural competence? Cultural competence is having an awareness of one’s own cultural identity and views about difference and the ability to learn and develop the varying cultural norms within an organization’s diverse workforce. There are four key components of cultural competence: awareness, attitude, knowledge and skills. Awareness is how one recognizes their worldview and the way in which others see the world. Attitude is the foundation for acquiring knowledge and skills to effectively work interculturally and adapt to culturally diverse situations. Knowledge is knowing of the differences and seeing them as a starting place for understanding the values, beliefs and behaviors of others. Skills are about having the ability to connect and relate to others whose backgrounds, beliefs, perspectives and values differ.

The rise of the digital nomad continues. In an era when it’s possible to work and get paid remotely, tech-savvy workers are electing to do so. Therefore, workplaces might become less cohesive, warranting greater efforts to foster team work and inclusion.

These trends are a precursor to the diversity priorities facing the global, interdependent economy to come in the years ahead. The role of business to cultivate inclusivity will be even more critical.