2020 needs no introduction, to say it was an awful year is putting it lightly.
While the pandemic still rages on, there is now hope on the horizon. But that hope comes with caution as we see how the world reacts to the new vaccines. In all that has happened — amidst the fears, the illnesses, the deaths, and the ignorance of many, lessons have emerged for us to move ahead.
The world was also presented with a plethora of lessons around diversity, equity and inclusion in 2020, with race equality catapulted to the top of social, political and organisational conversations.
It is hardly surprising, then, that many businesses have been establishing, re-examining or ramping up their diversity and inclusion initiatives. The need to listen to employees with different backgrounds and perspectives, promote understanding and awareness, and ultimately drive positive change has become a top business priority — and rightly so.
With 2020 has come a renewed consensus that organisations must foster a workplace environment where employees can be their authentic selves and do their best work — regardless of their gender, disability, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Though no one likely would have predicted the chaos of 2020, from it, we can see a few key themes that will have a long-lasting impact.
Here are five trends to watch in 2021 diversity, equity and inclusion by Nikki Lewis Simon:
- Mental Health and Wellness– Addressing the mental health and wellness effects of racism and discrimination will be a top priority for those who have experienced their sting. Learning how to deal with the related anger positively and other emotions that occur when confronted with systemic racism will be critical. Diversity, equity, and inclusion change agents will also seek emotional support as they meet significant challenges and deliver meaningful change in their organisations or companies
- Intersectionality– Important conversations will be had regarding this concept, which provides a framework for understanding how the various aspects of a person’s identity, including race, gender, ethnicity, social-economic and physical differences, combine to create different modes of discrimination and privilege and how to overcome them.
- Cancel Culture – This trend will continue to be huge in 2021. Consumer campaigns targeting companies that don’t carry their weight in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives will abound in the coming year as businesses will be closely watched in this regard by activists and others.
- Creative Collaboration and Inspired Engagement – There will be increased collaboration among many groups and businesses within our society. They see the benefits of coming together to create new ways to end racism and other types of discrimination.
- Show Me the Talent and Commitment – Businesses and organisations will be held accountable for their commitments to hire diverse talent, provide more opportunities for diverse employees, and other diversity-related measures. They can expect to be asked by internal and external stakeholders to show the results of their efforts in hard numbers.
It’s near impossible, to sum up, everything that has contributed to the unprecedented and challenging year that 2020 was. But as we turn a page on the last year, at least one clear truth has emerged. Organisations that continue to explore new operational models and put their employees’ wellbeing first will be the ones best placed to survive and thrive, whatever the post-COVID-19 future brings.
Shani Dhanda is an award-winning disability specialist, listed as one of the UK’s most influential disabled people and BBC 100 Women list 2020.
As a keynote speaker and practitioner for inclusion across business, government, non-profit and wider society, Shani helps organisations break barriers and integrate inclusion into their business frameworks.
Shani’s style and approach are described as a winning combination of authenticity and passion, helping to remove the awkwardness and fear of having confident conversations about disability within business and society. https://www.shanidhanda.com/