After an eventful 2018 for the field of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), organizations are taking a long, hard look at their workplace diversity measures. Many companies got it wrong in 2018 – think Starbucks or H&M – while others got it right. The #MeToo movement continued apace and has forced everyone in any position of authority to take a long hard look at themselves and how they run their businesses.
Numerous Diversity and Inclusion writers have highlighted their top D&I trends to look out for in 2019. We have cross-referenced various D&I articles and selected the top trends that we believe can be successfully measured for workplace diversity.
For some of the trends listed below, the workplace diversity measures are as simple as looking at the same statistics from a different perspective or taking a different approach to the questions asked to collect the data.
1. Leading by example
Diversity starts at the top. McKinsey released findings in 2018 emphasizing that “the leadership role matters. The highest-performing companies on both profitability and diversity had more women in line manager (i.e., typically revenue-generating) roles than in staff roles on their executive teams.”
Furthermore, companies such as Accenture and Diageo fully embraced their D&I initiatives and set strategic goals to increase diversity among senior leadership. Without doubt, more organizations will follow suit in 2019.
To track your progress and achieve this strategic goal, look at company demographics to serve as a workplace diversity measure. It is crucial to break down the graphics beyond company and department statistical overviews.
Look at your internal learning and development programs:
- Do you have a leadership training program?
- If so, who are you training for leadership positions?
- What are the demographics of this particular group?
- Do these statistics indicate that you are headed towards a more diverse leadership?
2. The customer is always right
This saying has been at the heart of the business world for decades, if not centuries. However, over time, it has evolved into “the customer is always right, sometimes.”
Recently, there has been an increased demand to create products that truly work for all customers.
One could argue that this is an impossible demand because we are all different and unique. There is validity to that assertion.
But it does not negate the fact that competitors such as Fenty Beauty in the case of the beauty industry will come out in full force to provide products with an intentionally inclusive approach.
With that said, this provides an opportunity to actively listen to the customer and investigate the demand, using a workplace diversity measure tailored to the customer.
It is fundamental to thoroughly research the demographics of your customers.
- Who is using your services/products?
- What is the diversity within a specific group?
- Are your services/products only accessible to a certain population? For example, have you tested the product to see if people with disabilities can use it?
In 2018, Microsoft demonstrated awareness of its diverse population of users by announcing the Xbox Adaptive Controller which was designed primarily to meet the needs of gamers with limited mobility. Many other technology companies are following suit, designing products that are accessible to all of their diverse community.
In 2019, diversity trends are pushing for intentional inclusivity. Sarah Kaiser, Diversity & Inclusion Lead at Fujitsu highlights this in a recent article in HR Zone;
“Next year, there will be a significant shift in D&I attention as companies serve customers as well as talent.”
Start collecting data on client demographics now and use this as a baseline to explore other potential markets.
3. You get what you see
As the move towards inclusive products gains more momentum, an internal audit of marketing and promotional material will be required.
Next year, there will be a significant shift in D&I attention as companies serve customers as well as talent. (Sarah Kaiser | Diversity & Inclusion Lead | Fujitsu)
If not conducted correctly (or at all), many companies could have negative experiences like H&M after a recent advertising campaign caused widespread outrage.
It will require collaboration from various departments within the organization, with majority participation from the diversity and marketing teams.
If the resources are not available, a quick search on Google will lead to marketing audit checklists and recommendations.
Think about the demographics of the promotional material.
- What terminology is used?
- What languages are used?
- What do you notice about the images (i.e., age, race, gender, religion, special needs, body size, etc.)?
- Do the materials align with the target community?
It could be that your marketing and promotional material is affecting the ability of a product to be more inclusive. If you know your product is inclusive, then you must communicate this to the public. Therefore, marketing becomes pivotal to moving the needle just a little further in Diversity and Inclusion.
A change of approach is required
These 2019 top trends should be tracked by the effectiveness of these measures and other workplace diversity initiatives, rather than by who commits the next H&M-style blunder. Adjusting the approach to Diversity statistics provides D&I specialists with the opportunity to be more proactive than reactive.
Furthermore, you do not have to be a large D&I consulting firm to perform the previously mentioned workplace diversity measures. They are accessible to companies of all sizes because it involves adapting how to look at statistics that have already been collected. After doing so, you may find that the statistics reveal more than anticipated.
Let the numbers be your guide to help you discover where you need to utilize more in-depth D&I measures and how you can advance the field of Diversity and Inclusion in 2019.