Organizations across industries are beginning to take diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) seriously. According to one report, 79% of companies plan to raise their DEI budget in 2022. This is in hopes of a more comprehensive strategy addressed to all demographics and underrepresented groups.

That trend is no accident. A 2021 survey found that 89% of current and prospective employees believe DEI to be a crucial component of organizational culture, while 56% said that they’d be more likely to work at a company for which it is a priority.

In other words, diversity, equity, and inclusion are not just buzzwords. Today, they’re essential considerations that directly affect your employees and the inner workings of your entire organization. Making DEI a core piece of your culture is not just good, but crucial in recruitment and retention initiatives in 2022 and beyond.

Now is the time to plan ahead. Core understanding of current trends and nuances within DEI can help you shape your recruitment and HR strategy for next year.

A focus on equity leads to tangible results

The first trend is relatively broad; it’s no longer enough to only pay attention to DEI on a surface level. Sure, a few pictures of people of color in your organization are a great start. But if that’s the entirety of your effort, will that really make a difference?

The answer is obvious—it’s not enough, and it doesn’t begin to cover the full scope of what DEI actually is. A stronger focus on equity—ensuring that programs, protocols, and approaches are fair and impartial for all employee groups—becomes vital.

Getting there is a complex challenge. It involves removing biases alongside creating new opportunities that the whole organization supports. A shift towards true equity begins not in the boardroom or with a lofty mission statement; rather, it begins in everyday conversations with every relevant group involved.

The results can be immensely rewarding. Companies that implement DEI practices and have  equal opportunities in place generate 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee with overall revenue rising by 19%. As more organizations discover these tangible results, the shift from surface-level representation to deeper-seeded equity will continue to accelerate.

Building leadership support for true DEI priorities

A deeper-lying emphasis on DEI is impossible to accomplish without the full buy-in of organizational leadership at all levels. Unfortunately, research shows that this type of leadership is still missing in many cases.

According to one survey,

“71% of respondents say their executives are involved in decisions about endorsing and advancing DEI, however only 13% within that group claim their executives are proactive and visible in those activities; 58% claim they are not.”

Simply put, that level of support will no longer be enough in 2022. Every year brings additional workforce members of a generation that cares more about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Leaders who embrace DEI with action rather than simply words are rising above those who do not.

The good news is that leaders can prepare now with a few relatively simple steps:

  • Committing to DEI goals and initiatives across the organization.
  • Playing an active role in physical and virtual meetings designed to drive community and a sense of belonging.
  • Claiming responsibility and addressing any DEI shortcomings employees bring to light.

Getting there requires not just executives, but true leaders. Successful, top-down leadership approaches to DEI can help drive culture change, equal opportunity, and belonging.

Evolving needs for remote equity

Since its widespread implementation, remote work has become a semi-permanent fixture of the workplace.

  • “23% of employees are working as part of a hybrid work model, where they commute to the office for in-person work between 1 and 4 days a week.”
  • “11% of employees are still working completely remotely, showing that the desire for ongoing fully remote work remains even in a world that is opening back up.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended efforts across all levels of organizations, and DEI initiatives are among them.

Depending on which organization you ask, the drastic switch to remote work has either improved diversity efforts or made it more difficult. Providing all of your employees an equal opportunity to work from home becomes vital.

It doesn’t end there. Remote work equity also has to include consideration of how this shift has impacted different communities and underrepresented groups. The Society for Human Resources Management, for instance, found that people think very differently about WFH depending on their gender and ethnicity:

  • Women are more likely than men to say that their productivity increased when working from home and that it would allow them to stay in the workforce despite duties at home.
  • Asian American women are significantly more worried than their Caucasian and African American counterparts about losing networking opportunities, and less likely to believe in productivity increases due to WFH arrangements.

As the SHRM concludes in its report,

“This data makes it clear that all organizations, regardless of size or sophistication, need to re-examine remote-work policies to ensure there are no unintended side effects.” 

Organizational leaders have to consider these impacts on all of their employees when making remote work decisions. Ensuring equal access to technology and resources is just as important as training solutions.

Removing bias with technology

Subconscious bias is, in many ways, the downfall of organizational DEI efforts. Even the most well-meaning efforts can fall flat if non-diverse leadership teams drive decisions, as shown by the countless examples of HR bias driving hiring decisions that counteract DEI initiatives.

Studies consistently show that Caucasians, especially males, receive more interviews, job offers, and higher salaries than any other group in consideration. Even seemingly arbitrary characteristics like height can have a subconscious role in hiring.

Technology solutions are breaking through to solve these challenges, and employees are recognizing the potential. According to one study, 47% of organizations have begun implementing technology that reduces unconscious bias during the recruitment and hiring process, and another 33% plan to do so in the near future.

Used the right way, technology can help your DEI efforts in many ways, including the following:

  • Unbiased automatic candidate evaluation for hiring based on proven skills and experience.
  • Analytics, both automatic and more in-depth, show the equitable distribution of diverse populations across the organization and individual job levels.
  • Automated help with identifying high-performing employees for raises and promotions that are not driven by managerial bias.

Of course, technology comes with its own dark side. Artificial intelligence can learn human biases, especially when learning based on past trends that were informed by those biases. It also tends to lean towards hard skills, which is potentially disadvantageous to employees who lean on soft skills to succeed.

Therefore, the key for 2022 is building a more technology-oriented approach to DEI that still doesn’t rely blindly on machine learning or other automated processes. A core recognition of potential biases, and analyzing technology with these biases in mind, can go a long way towards more successful diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Are you ready for the next step in DEI?

It’s an employee market. Candidates expect more from businesses, and it’s your responsibility to meet and exceed these expectations. One way to do that is with actions supporting DEI in the workplace. Businesses have to soar above the norm to care for their workers not just because it is a trend, but because they are human beings.

With that in mind, however, how organizations respond to DEI in 2022 will define their cultural image and employer brand. As it becomes more important to showcase your company’s active advocacy for DEI, you have decisions to make and options to analyze.

With more comprehensive measures in effect, showcasing your diverse and inclusive culture becomes natural. There are solutions that help you showcase those efforts to potential and current employees.

That’s where Concept3D comes in.

We’ve built our recruitment tools and Job Previews with the goal of providing a more immersive, culture-focused view into the organization. For reasons that range from financial to attracting the best possible candidates, DEI has to be part of that equation. Ready to learn more about how our tool can help you showcase your own efforts?

Contact us today.