From social movements and political agendas to business innovation and cultivating a healthy work culture, diversity and inclusion oftentimes shape the way businesses grow and evolve. Because various factors may impact workplace culture, here are some of the top diversity and inclusion trends to watch in 2021.
1) Cultivating Leaders
As more employees have transitioned to working from home or working remotely, regardless of permanence, business leaders are encouraged to ramp up emotional intelligence and soft skills to help employees navigate this “new normal.” COVID-19 has impacted many individuals and businesses alike, and disproportionately women, especially women of color who are opting for full-time family care over careers. Businesses must redefine leadership, such as empathizing with individual circumstances and lending support in a more authentic manner. Emotional intelligence and soft skills can help leaders become more conscious of changes to societal movements, as well as create systems to support employees in these unprecedented times. For example, individuals with high emotional intelligence are likely to possess greater empathy, effectively respond to constructive criticism, make difficult decisions and resolve conflicts, and maintain composure in high-stress situations. The first step of developing emotional intelligence focuses on self-awareness, which allows individuals to recognize and understand the causes of emotions.
2) Centering Work Around Purpose
A mental health crisis resulted from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As financial, personal, and economic hardships skyrocketed, so did anxiety, stress, and depression. Prioritizing mental health will help re-engage employees by offering access to affordable mental healthcare, thus, decreasing absenteeism and increase productivity and engagement. A popular solution for mental healthcare has been telehealth. Where a study found that more than 80% of participants would prefer automated over personalized interaction due to judgment-free zones, unbiased space to share struggles, and prompt answers to health-related inquiries, it should come as no surprise that telehealth has connected individuals to mental healthcare services. Talkspace, BetterHelp, and Headspace are some of the trending mental health apps that provide 24/7 access to online therapy and resources.
Additionally, outside of the global health crisis social and civil issues have impacted communities across America. As a result, many employees are demanding more from employers. Addressing social and civil issues can be a sensitive subject that many employers might argue draws a fine line between a political stance and support for employees. However, staying silent during these times can also be detrimental to your overall company culture.
3) Expanding Team Diversity
While many companies have shifted to a majority or fully remote workforce, diversity can be expanded. If your company is looking to hire remote workers, your candidate pool can expand immensely by removing recruiting parameters or restrictions. For example, if you’re solely looking at candidates inside the United States, you might be missing out on qualified candidates located internationally. If you’re worried about language or cultural barriers, there are outsourcing companies that require fluency in a variety of languages. If you have business locations across the globe, this is the perfect opportunity to capitalize on recruitment or even redefining roles. For example, if you have an employee in the United States looking to relocate internationally, you can offer an opportunity to both allow your current employee to learn about a new culture, as well as offer a remote employee located anywhere across the globe an opportunity to join your company.
4) Bridging Organizational and Skill Gaps
- Retraining and reskilling. COVID-19 presented many unique challenges, such as remote work capabilities, restructuring roles, and organizational finances. As a result, employers have faced the difficult decision of laying off, furloughing, and terminating employees, as well as restaffing vacancies. To help bridge organizational and skill gaps, companies can invest in retraining and reskilling employees. Many companies have augmented remote learning opportunities and expanded learning and development resources.
- Focusing on employee health, safety, and security. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, employee health, safety, and security has become a priority for many employers. Not only has COVID-19 created health implications, but also garnered additional challenges that significantly impact employees’ general health, such as mental health, financial hardships, familial issues, and additional health issues. Further, employees are seeking company stances on political and social issues. Offering support for employees impacted by political and/or social issues can help offset the pressure to voice an opinion, but also show you care about your employees’ health, safety, and security.
- Digital transformations. To help support organizational and skill gaps, businesses have invested in the technology and software. From communication and virtual training, to versatile, robust technology, many businesses have undergone some sort of digital transformation.
The definition and socially accepted terms regarding diversity and inclusion change fairly often. Understanding how your workforce can adapt and prevail organizational obstacles will provide you the insight to rebuild, revamp, and reap the rewards. Contact VensureHR to speak with a human resources representative, who can provide the resources, tools, and support you need to refine and refocus your diversity and inclusion efforts.