This article was originally published in HR Technologist  by Chriradeep BasuMallick on December 18, 2018. Click here to see original article. 


Modern businesses cannot afford to ignore the phenomenal importance of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) at the workplace. We discuss the key D&I trends you can expect to see in 2019.

We’ve Come Very Far, But There’s a Lot of Ground to Cover

2018 was a landmark year for diversity and inclusion at the workplace.

First, companies accepted the existing gender pay gap among employees. Second, the #MeToo movement empowered thousands of people across the world to step up and share their experiences, creating the need for urgent corrective action. Third, companies began to discuss diversity and inclusion as a vital element for organizational success and employee engagement.

Importantly, diversity and inclusion require a holistic and end-to-end organizational focus; often companies make the mistake of improving certain areas and overlooking other equally relevant spaces. Among the larger workplace diversity trends in 2019, this is a key area for improvement -- connecting all the various contributing factors and grey areas ensuring every individual in the workplace is protected.

Gartner predicts that over three-quarters of larger enterprises will define their diversity and inclusion (DI) goals for a 2020-2022 timeline. Let’s now look at some of the most relevant workplace diversity trends for 2019.

Workplace Diversity Trends For in 2019

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Will Be Used to Remove Unconscious Prejudices

Common biases related to age, gender, race, and other demographically-driven factors all have a common trigger: the candidate’s name and the length of their tenure at previous organizations. AI-powered recruitment will completely transform this, given that chatbots will screen resumes, removing any unfair ‘human’ determining influence. 

Further, AI can also be used to analyze and evaluate the demographic breakdown of any recruitment initiative, ensuring there is fair and equitable distribution.

However, this workplace diversity trend could also give rise to a unique challenge. “While candidate assessment is not a new concept, using AI to help speed up the recruiting process is still in its nascent phases.  

As more companies continue to bet big on AI to help them overcome unconscious biases, it is crucial that HR leaders work with AI throughout the hiring process, rather than relying on it to solve institutional bias,” warns Jill Strange, VP of Science Applications of Infor HCM. Blindly relying on technology can also lead managers to perpetuate the hiring of the same groups over and over which can hinder a company’s diversity efforts, Strange explains.


2. Men will Get Involved in Gender Initiative Programs

By encouraging men to actually become agents of change and stand by any diversity initiative, organizations can ensure there is a level playing field and every employee is enthused and encouraged. First, women-only networks need to be expanded across the entire organizational workforce. Next, it is critical for companies to make the endorsement of diversity an essential part of any regulatory and compliance mechanism.

According to Jeffery Tobias Halter, President at YWomen and former Director of Diversity at The Coca-Cola Company, “It’s time we reframe the topic as an organizational issue and realize that active male engagement is one of the most critical elements in driving long-term systemic change in organizations.” YWomen is a strategic consulting company focused on engaging men in women’s leadership advancement.

“I’ve found that 20 percent of men are interested in helping. They simply want an invitation to the conversation and some direction on how to get involved,” he added.


3. Data Analytics Will Aid Evaluation of Any DI Initiatives’ Success

One of the biggest challenges for any diversity program is the inability to test its effectiveness. Often companies treat this as a subjective area, without clear metrics, analytics, or dashboards pointing towards areas of improvement. Today, technologies like Big Data can completely change this by offering real-time insights and well-calibrated KPIs, refining the entire program.

For instance, Airbnb’s previous recruitment plan looked at finding commonalities between candidates in a bid to develop deeper connections and engagement. Once the incoming data was assessed, it was revealed that this was leading to an unconscious bias for people who liked the same kind of things. Airbnb transformed the recruiting process, creating objective scoresheets so that each candidate was evaluated fairly.

In 2019, companies will remove the ‘face value’ model of accepting the success of a DI program, instead looking at the newest tools and technologies to better establish its impact.

4. Customer Experience and Brand Reputation Will Be Interlinked With DI Programs

An important workplace diversity trend, modern companies will use new technologies and solutions to expand the ambit of their diversity and inclusion initiatives. Any customer-facing campaign or branding initiative will also have diversity as a core value proposition. “inequity in the workplace breeds lack of consumer loyalty while inclusive cultures can yield a stronger customer base,” adds bill proudman, ceo of diversity consulting firm white men as full diversity partners (wmfdp). 

By establishing and emphasizing a company’s commitment to inclusion, they will be able to build a more progressive and people-oriented corporate identity. It could push profitability and product sales in the short term and improve the company’s commitment to socially sensitive ideas and beliefs in the longer run.

The Many Benefits of Cultural Diversity

In the modern gig and remote working economy, recruiters will constantly look at fresh, talented, and experienced candidates from a variety of backgrounds. By strengthening a DI program and extending it to any recruiting cycle, hiring teams can go out there, search, identify, and bring in the best talent.

Further, by letting these various voices, approaches, and points of view come together at the workplace, employers can unlock increased levels of creativity and productivity. Finally, this will also strengthen company reputation and reduce attrition rates.

In today’s complex global climate of increasing awareness and a large number of minority groups speaking up for past misdemeanors, companies cannot afford to have a weak DI focus. 2019 will see DI become an inviolable part of any HR strategy; needless to say, any negative tendencies will be met with zero tolerance.


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