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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) and Belonging Trends for 2023

Corporate diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) efforts have ramped up in recent years, and I expect it to continue into 2023 and beyond. This year the business world  coined the term “The Great Resignation.” As more people leave jobs to find better work-life flexibility, companies need to be proactive. Additionally, as some companies reopen their office buildings, creating inclusive workspaces becomes more important. Here’s a look at what DEIB initiatives we can expect to continue into the new year. 

The Intersection of DEIB with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Efforts

More boards, investors, and stakeholders are asking organizations how their DEIB efforts are aligned with their overall ESG and CSR efforts. Leading firms are assessing where they can make the most positive difference in the world while also managing their brand risk as a strong leader committed to responsible and sustainable products and services. As NASDAQ and SEC increase regulations that put more requirements for diversity in board leadership, we expect to see DEIB on more agendas on a regular basis. Additionally, as ESG disclosures expand beyond climate-related topics, the DEIB efforts will need to move from an exercise in counting heads to capturing short-term and long-term investments in growing cultures of inclusion and belonging for all. 

There is a reputational risk for not examining the diversity of suppliers or not looking into whether your supply chain includes forced labor or child labor.  There are noncompliant reporting risks if you are not gathering your data in a way that can be audited or verified. Stating big goals or pledges may sound great for marketing, but if you cannot prove how you have delivered on those goals or pledges for the desired impact, it can backfire. Organizations will no longer be able to sit on the sidelines because the risk of inaction can hurt their bottom line.

Data Drives Innovation – More Effective Self-ID Campaigns

Diversity and inclusion metrics are used to identify areas for improvement, prioritize initiatives, set targets and other program goals, assign accountability, and measure the impact of initiatives. It’s important to measure how well your diversity initiatives perform to know if they are creating a sense of belonging and improving the work culture for your employees. 

As more individuals self-disclose disabilities, veteran status, and pronouns, existing systems, policies, and procedures will need to be updated to capture more dimensions of diversity data. For example, offer letters with incorrect pronouns for new hires can be less than welcoming for someone who identifies as nonbinary if your forms only reflect binary choices. Similarly, asking for optional fields for self-identification (self-ID)  will allow you to have more data to sort for pockets of excellence or areas to focus on enhancing inclusion when sorting employee engagement data or surveys.

Ways to measure the ROI (Relationships, Outcomes, and Impact) of DEI™  can include employee retention and satisfaction surveys, partnerships with diverse and impactful organizations, diversity of applicant pools, and participation in programming like Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Taking note of these things is important because if these numbers aren’t quite hitting the targets, organizations can redirect their efforts and find a better way to make their employees feel welcomed. Additionally, it’s essential to track, share, and leverage essential metrics like representation and retention because these can be marketing tools to recruit new hires and appeal to your key stakeholders. 

Trend of Employee Resource Groups (ERGS) and Business Resource Groups (BRGs)

We see more organizations moving their ERGs to be more business-focused on gathering input for new innovative ideas for products and services. Instead of focusing on cultural awareness and celebrations, they engage employees in solutions-oriented activities to highlight internal talent for mentorship, sponsorship, and advancement opportunities. Organizations are also recognizing the value of the ERG and BRG leaders and rewarding their efforts with additional professional development opportunities, access to leadership, as well as compensation.

The bottom line is diversity has always been an important key indicator of a company’s success. With my unique experience and perspective as a CPA, I’ve witnessed how DE&I can positively impact the bottom line, traditional return on investment, and budgets. As a leader, learning to Listen. Learn. Then Lead With TLC (Transparency, Leadership by Example, and Caring)™ can help companies hire, retain, and promote diverse talent. 

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