5 Diversity & Inclusion Trends For 2016

29 Feb 2016, in Diversity

2016 should continue to be a great year for corporate Diversity & Inclusion. Companies’ focus on (and commitment to) this area continues to increase, with five notable trends to this activity.

These five trends are summarized later in this article, but before we get onto these trends within corporate diversity efforts, it’s important to consider why these are happening. They result from three broader ‘macro’ trends, each helping to push diversity up the corporate agenda.

The first of these ‘macro trends’ - or underlying factors - is that societies are simply becoming more and more diverse, notably in the US and UK. Diversity is an issue that is not going away any time soon – rather, there is added pressure for organizations to reflect the societies they serve, both for practical reasons (creating products that consumers want!) and brand reasons.

The issue of brand relates to the second ‘macro trend’ – an increased consumer (and job applicant) interest in corporate diversity levels.

This is itself of course part of a wider trend of ‘consumer-power’ through increased expectations of access to information. Companies can no longer ignore striking statistics of consumer and job applicant preferences for socially conscious companies: 92% of Millennials, for example, are more likely to purchase from an ethical company.

The third factor underlying the positive outlook for Diversity & Inclusion in 2016 is the ongoing ‘war for talent’; unfilled job vacancies, and expensive incentive-driven hiring and it’s knock-on effects on turnover, engagement, and culture.

Given that talent seems to be winning this ‘war’, smart organizations are taking proactive steps to leverage diversity as part of a search for new talent pipelines to secure the future of their workforces.

These three broader factors - more diverse societies, greater consumer interest and expectations, and recruitment challenges – help to explain five key trends for 2016.


Trend 1: Greater business interest and commitment than ever before

Organizations are seeing the business case for diversity, driven by research such as McKinsey’s findings that diverse teams outperform industry norms by 35%. CEOs themselves are reporting clear business benefits: 85% surveyed by PwC report that where their organization has a clear D&I strategy, it has increased performance.

As a result, it’s no surprise to see senior leaders across different industry sectors making diversity a clear corporate commitment.  And, importantly, such commitment is not just ‘noise’ – driving D&I to the top of the agenda, it has been proven to make diverse initiatives more likely to succeed


Trend 2: Making diversity data public

A number of tech companies – Facebook and Twitter, for example – have pioneered making their diversity data public, with others now following suit. While this has opened the ‘disclosers’ up to some criticism based on current diversity levels, it has

a) set a standard for openness that others are likely to follow (or face even more intense criticism), and

b) created a further incentive for organizations to ensure there is positive news to report.

With such a focus on corporate diversity – and multiple studies in to the current state regarding different aspects within it – expect this trend to continue.


Trend 3: ‘Diversity’ is (necessarily) becoming more nuanced

To really ‘match their market’, organizations are moving beyond a narrow definition of diversity (race, gender) to a more nuanced definition that includes groups such as people with disabilities, or veterans who may otherwise struggle to enter the corporate working world. Cognitive diversity represents a particularly exciting next frontier, as diversity of this type is likely to further help develop creative, innovative teams that leverage the principle of ‘diversity of thought’.


Trend 4: ‘Diversity’ and ‘Inclusion’ unbundled

While ‘Diversity & Inclusion’ are invariably grouped together, organizations are starting to make sure they meaningfully address both of these dimensions, ensuring in particular that the ‘inclusion’ element receives due attention. ‘Diversity’ is seen to relate to numbers – it’s something that can be quantified, reported on. ‘Inclusion’, perhaps harder to quantify, is no less important – it’s about ‘making diversity stick’ by changing cultural awareness, understanding and values to ensure a people-centric workplace and effective, highly engaged teams.


Trend 5: Proactive initiatives

Organizations are manifesting this higher-than-ever commitment to diversity and inclusion through proactive initiatives across both diversity (such as specific hiring programs, reaching out to create hiring partnerships with relevant organizations, and so on) and inclusion (such as proactive staff training across multiple aspects of diversity, often within culture-change or leadership development initiatives…).

The ultimate goal? A cohesive approach to talent management that incorporates diversity and inclusion at every level - something akin to the ‘Inclusive Talent System’ that represents the top level in Bersin By Deloitte’s diversity maturity modelOne organization already there is Australia’s QBE Group: quoted in PwC’s survey ‘The CEO Agenda’, CEO John Neal stated:

‘What we’ve done is integrate diversity and inclusion into our leadership training, into our talent programs, into our succession planning…’

At uptimize we foresee more organizations following suit in what should be an exciting, innovative year for corporate diversity and inclusion initiatives.


Want to know more about cognitive diversity in the workplace? Check out this free eBook


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