The Top 3 DEI Trends Your Organization Needs in 2021

Updated: Mar 13

The arrival of 2021 was warmly welcomed world-wide. Through 2020’s many unpredictable and impactful events, workplace expectations across the globe experienced a major shift in perspective. From that shift, a few key themes have emerged: among them the realization that organizational focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is not only necessary, but tremendously important.

In Norway in particular, DEI practices have experienced an increased emphasis in the last few years, and will continue to do so in 2021-in large part due to the introduction of the Aktivitets- og Redegjørelsesplikten (ARP) legislation, which was passed in early 2020. As defined by the new regulations, all public employers-as well as all private employers who meet certain requirements-must provide information on diversity and equality within their organization, as well as reports on company-wide DEI strategies.

It seems inevitable that this will be a year of increased conversations around DEI strategy and implementation around the world. The question now is: how do organizations and leadership embrace the importance of DEI in a sustainable, and attainable, way?

We’ve gone through the latest research, and put together our top 3 DEI trends for 2021 to give you a place to start!

1. Addition of ‘Belonging’ (DEIB)

The concept of belonging isn’t something new to diversity, equity and inclusion practices. Belonging is an important part of inclusion: research conducted by Catalyst shows that both belongingness (the state or feeling of belonging to a particular group) and uniqueness (the quality of being particularly remarkable, special, or unusual) are paramount when it comes to inclusion.

According to PWC’s most recent Global Diversity and Inclusion survey (2020), 76% of leaders state that diversity and inclusion are a top priority for their organizations. However, many organizations still struggle to make sustainable progress. In fact, according to Gartner, despite the fact that Diversity and Inclusion are the number one talent management priority for leadership, Only 36% of diversity and inclusion (D&I) leaders report that their organization has been effective at building a diverse workforce. Why, with all of today’s focus on and efforts around DEI, including training, and the overall recognition of the benefits of a diverse workforce, is so little progress actually being made? It could come down to belonging-and the fact that many organizations are missing this important element from their DEI strategies.

When employees feel like they belong, they are more likely to be productive, engaged, and higher performing. BetterUp found that employees with a strong sense of belonging had a 50% reduction in turnover risk, a 56% increase in performance, and a 75% reduction in employee sick days. Employees who feel like they belong also feel a deeper connection to their teams and organizations. It’s no wonder that the addition of ‘Belonging’ to your DEI conversations and strategies makes the top of our list!

2. More Diverse Hiring and Less ‘Tokenism’

Many top organizations are moving towards more diverse hiring practices-but if a company hires diverse candidates for diversity’s sake, they run the risk of tokenism. Tokenism is defined by the Oxford Languages dictionary as “the practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to do a particular thing, especially by recruiting a small number of people

from under-represented groups in order to give the appearance of sexual or racial equality within a workforce.”

Hiring someone from an underrepresented demographic in order to check the ‘diversity box’ runs the risk of isolating the employee and increasing focus on that person’s actions, which can lead can lead to imposter syndrome, stress, and further discrimination. And even when there’s more than one woman or one person of color in a company’s leadership, if they don’t have any real decision making power, that’s also tokenism.

In 2021, more focus will be placed on avoiding tokenism in the hiring process, and transforming diversity goals into truly inclusive organizational cultures.

3. Redefining Leadership

As organizational leaders embrace the new reality of the workplace, many are discovering that there’s an overwhelming need to redefine their roles in order to ensure success of their companies and teams for the future. According to Deloitte’s research, the behaviors of leaders (whether they’re senior executives or managers) can drive up to 70 percentage points of difference between the proportion of employees who feel highly included and the proportion of those who do not. This effect is even stronger for minority group members. The focus in 2021 is on inclusive leadership: inclusive leaders are defined by six signature traits.

Inclusive leaders go out of their way to make sure that all team members feel that they are respected and recognized, and that their contributions are valued and appreciated. In other words, successful Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) strategies thrive under the guidance of inclusive leadership.

Diversity and Inclusion are important pillars of today’s organizations, and rightly so. 2021 is the year to align your company’s goals with the practices that have been proven to increase productivity, innovation, revenue, retention, and top recruitment. Take the first step by evaluating your leadership’s association with these three trends. Next, book an appointment with us to find out how to increase diversity and inclusion in your organization through our inclusive leadership training, and reap the benefits of diversity hiring through our highly skilled international talent pool!

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