The future of Diversity and Inclusion. Will DEI die?

by Apr 30, 2024

The Future of Diversity and Inclusion

 

Headlines now suggest that DEI will die. Are they valid? What is the future of diversity and inclusion?

 

I have been involved in DEI before it was a thing and even called that.

It was about anti-discrimination, bullying, and harassment to give equal opportunity. We are supposed to have legally protected demographics in the E.U. and other geographies which is not always successful.

The US movements following METOO and #BlackLivesMatter, accelerated the momentum of DEI and many initiatives became mainstream globally. Racial equality took centre stage in the many new corporate policies organisations launched. But other groups of underrepresented talent will be impacted by cutbacks, specifically less physically able, neurodiverse, and older workers.

Predictably, like any major cultural and organisational shifts where the processes are cyclical, we see pushback from previously privileged groups who feel potentially excluded. Google, Meta, Tesla, and other household names have cut their budgets and or their teams.  

Headlines now suggest that DEI will die. Are they valid? What is the future of diversity and inclusion?

the future of diversity and inclusion

Different context, same problem?

Although we don’t have the same cultural context in Europe, there is still a degree of volatility. Do we have lessons to learn from the US experience?

Some of these challenges are well captured in this HBR post by Kenji Yoshino and David Glasgow

Examples of the practices they list as “risky” are being increasingly adopted in Europe. leaders are adopting quotas and bonuses related to DEI goals for example.

Their approaches propose not “lifting” certain groups above others, but rather “leveling” the playing field for everybody. They suggest;

✔️ “Conduct employee education or training on topics such as bias, allyship, or inclusive leadership.” Certainly, we see a reframing of that idea in Europe where organisations deliver many traditional training programmes through the lens of inclusion.  Unconscious bias training always tends to get resistance because it is a topic that is personally triggering for so many.

✔️”Create a more physically inclusive office environment, for example through all-gender bathrooms, nursing rooms, or child-care facilities” This can go much broader to cover all forms of accessibility including accommodations for the neuro-diverse and physically less able.

✔️Conduct outreach to a broader range of colleges to attract a more diverse candidate pool.” That in itself is non-inclusive – many don’t go to university but could have the necessary skills. We need to focus on making our recruitment processes more diverse and inclusive to widen our talent pool.

✔️Support community organisations focused on DEI issues, for example through pro bono work and philanthropy.” This is always a good idea, anywhere.

European initiatives

Many US trends like Mcdonald’s cross the Atlantic. Will this be one of them? It’s hard to know if we will be impacted by vocal resistance to dial back and weaken our initiatives.

In the U.S organisations have made significant. cutbacks in DEI either axing budgets or people. In the face of growing legal action in his own company Tesla,  Elon Musk claims that DEI is creating more discrimination than it is addressing calling it a “woke mind virus.”  For Musk DEI is “just as morally wrong as any other racism and sexism,” he tweeted (or X’d) in December,  a shift in his original position..

The MeToo movement and George Floyd’s murder stimulated diversity and inclusion in the US, and the need for change. But DEI is a cultural transformation that takes time and in many cases the people responsible for the implementation are the same group who are likely to be most resistant.  They fear they have something to lose.

Performance Gap

In response to these issues, we see a performance gap, separating two types of organisations. On the one hand, there are those who follow performative, box-checking measures that make no real difference. Everyone wants change, as long as they don’t have to change themselves.

On the other side, mature organisations that take the time to pursue genuine policies of diversity and inclusion will see results over time. They understand that long-term commitment is needed and a quick fix in response to shareholder demands will not make it happen overnight. They will be successful in attracting and retaining the best talent and meeting client and customer demands.

Download: 12 key steps to attract, recruit and retain female talent – 3 Plus International

The future of diversity and inclusion is not at risk, but it is in danger of shooting itself in the foot if organisations don’t fully commit to complete long-term implementation. So yes, the future of diversity and inclusion is assured but that doesn’t mean to say that progress will be easy or fast.

 

If you are struggling with these issues within your organisation or personally contact 3Plus NOW

 

 

Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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