The state of Diversity & Inclusion, 2020 progress and 2021 trends

5 tips to improving Diversity & Inclusion iniatives

Equal is greater than Division; equitable opportunity for greater results.

How would you describe the current state of diversity and inclusion in most organizations today?

Currently in many organizations, Diversity & Inclusion is regarded like an unfamiliar nutritious food for a doubtful eater — it’s supposed to be good for you but how does it taste and what do you do with it? D & I is now more acknowledged as something that may be beneficial to the organization but there are still many skeptical people/organizations with a lack of understanding of how to recruit, develop, integrate and promote this important aspect of business. There are organizations who get that D & I is a competitive advantage and also the right thing to do. They are advancing in all metrics, including innovation, productivity, bottom line, morale, recruitment, and more.

How has COVID-19 impacted diversity and inclusion initiatives?

Covid-19 has moved D & I to a lower priority. Dealing with how to manage an organization remotely and pivoting on how to market, conduct and manage one’s business is very demanding. This is also an opportune time to step back and strategize on how to develop an overall plan that will ensure the organization’s longer-term success. D & I is a crucial piece of any organization’s master plan and needs to be integrated into the organization to maintain its viability and ongoing growth.

What are the most common challenges and roadblocks organizations face when it comes to implementing their diversity and inclusion initiatives?

There are a series of challenges in implementing D & I –

  • It is a one-time effort with no follow-through.
  • There is no defined plan and goals.
  • Poor communication and follow-through.
  • Bottom line, the efforts fail.

What are 3–5 pieces of advice you have for organizations looking to improve the impact of their D&I strategies?

  • Implement D & I as an organization-wide project led by top management.
  • Establish accountability and measurable metrics for each department and personnel.
  • Communicate and foster buy in from all personnel with an explanation and illustration of the benefits of D & I for the organization and each area. Encourage feedback and integration so that the project is relevant and meaningful for everyone.
  • Develop a mentorship program so that there are opportunities for exchange, understanding, and cross-fertilization of ideas and synergy.
  • Create affinity groups and interactions so that there is cultural and social appreciation for others’ strengths and backgrounds.

What trends will shape D&I in 2021? How can organizations prepare for these changes?

Workforce mobility is at a historic high and increasing. Organizations have more options in building the best team regardless of the worker’s geographic location. Organizations have the advantage and challenge of attracting, retaining, and building a strong and stable team because of this flexibility. The competition for talent has expanded because they are not locked to a geographic location as much.

Marilyn Tam, global speaker, best selling author (The Happiness Choice), business leader and humanitarian. Formerly the CEO of Aveda, President Reebok, VP Nike

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