It’s safe to say that 2016 was the year predictions went well and truly out the window.
As for 2017, will it be the year of ‘people science’, as companies take better hold of their employee data on diversity? Will flexible working and Shared Parental Leave really/finally take off? Will recruiters start looking to AI to address unconscious bias? Or will we see a tipping point for more women advancing into senior roles?
We asked members of our consultancy team for their workplace predictions for 2017, and their thoughts on how to drive the diversity agenda forward in uncertain times.
Where do you think companies should set their diversity priorities for 2017?
“I’m expecting the conversation about Gender Pay Gap to hot up in the New Year.”
“Some companies (like Sodexo) are already getting ahead of the agenda and reporting their data now. We can expect more to follow suit as companies spot the opportunity to engage with their existing and future talent by being open and proactive on the subject well in advance of the April 2018 deadline.”
“We’ll be working with clients to understand the reasons behind their pay gaps. We’ll also be action-planning with them on how to close that gap and ensure it stays closed. In the meantime, this new comparison tool released by the ONS this month is food for thought.”
How can businesses take their diversity and inclusion training to the next level?
“Inclusive leaders will be alert to the fact that we have seen a new level of discourse in which some political leaders have fanned the flames of hatred against groups who already face discrimination and prejudice. They will, therefore, need to be even more proactive in making sure they – and their companies – make the standards of behaviour clear. Harassment will not be tolerated. We will value and celebrate difference. Our organisational culture requires people to be emotionally and culturally intelligent. They will understand, now more than ever, that there are real business benefits to be had as a result.”
“More and more organisations will be looking to build the capacity of all their managers to feel as comfortable and competent in the area of EDI as they are in all other aspects of their roles.”
“This sounds easy, but in reality it requires carefully-designed, skills-based coaching and training, services which also take people on an emotional and experiential journey. We don’t learn anything by having a wish-washy commitment to improving our skills and understanding. Instead, we want inclusive leaders who are genuinely excited by the benefits of EDI. And this will shine through what they say and do.”
“How will senior leaders keep the diversity agenda front-and-centre? By thinking about their three top business imperatives, and weaving EDI best practice into the ways that they will be addressed. And then measuring the benefits. Then repeat.”
How will organisations build more inclusive cultures in the new political era?
“In the age of Trump and the run-up to Brexit, employers are going to need to think very carefully about the needs of their overseas staff, and how they can continue to promote the benefits of working in the UK. This means considering the employment life-cycle as a whole, and the different needs people from different cultures have.”
“It also means renewed effort when it comes to corporate messaging on diversity. Because getting the messaging right really makes a difference.”
“Taking a creative and inclusive effort to talent management (including a broad definition of what it means to be talented) means that your staff are more likely to become brilliant project planners, software engineers, procurement specialists, as well as great managers. This requires clever use of the L&D budget and creative thinking about the needs of under-represented groups.”
“Give your staff the opportunities to do something original and positive. This could mean speaking to different audiences about their organisation and its approach to diversity. Or representing under-represented groups. And, of course, monitor, analyse and report on the results of your efforts.”