Below are four trends that we are noticing in the D&I field as we move into 2018:
- Advocacy and Activism in Our Organizations & Beyond
How can executives be effective D&I Leaders for their companies and the country? We are seeing closer integration of the hard-core bottom line business case (we can make more money with diversity; we can attract and retain top talent) and the social justice case (equity, ethics, morality). We see this with corporations making decisions to disengage from organizations and efforts that they believe are inconsistent with their ethical and moral compass (e.g. resigning from Trump’s Advisory Councils). The “both and” rationale (It is the right thing to do and the right thing for our business) for inclusion is being advocated for more explicitly. Corporate leaders are not only disengaging but also speaking up and speaking out (e.g. ATT CEO Randall Stephenson speaking up for Black Lives Matter).
- Engaging in Bold, Inclusive Conversations™
More organizations and leaders are advocating for discussions in the workplace on heretofore taboo topics, such as race, religion and politics. Corporations realize that we can no longer adhere to the old adage: “Don’t talk religion and politics at work.” The need for the requisite skills to have effective dialogue is being recognized and addressed. We are becoming more polarized on many sociopolitical issues and companies will need to develop strategies to address how it may manifest in the workplace with one such strategy being developing effective dialogue skills.
- Politics Matter.
There is no such thing as neutrality and non-partisanship any more. If you’re an advocate for inclusion, you’re more than likely against most of the Republican’s current agenda. Increasingly, customers want companies to take a stand on political issues and are penalizing those who do not, or that make missteps. The question becomes how can we be inclusive of different political views when some of them fly in the face of the very definition of inclusion. The year 2018 will be one of sorting out what the boundaries should be. For example, Mary-Frances Winters will be speaking at a large public University in a few weeks on the concepts of her book, We Can’t Talk About That At Work! How To Talk About Race, Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics, and soon after a speaker who is affiliated with White Nationalist Richard Spencer will also be speaking. Of course members of the university’s diversity and inclusion community are against his presence on campus but because it is a public university he has not been disinvited.
- The Implications of #MeToo
The #Metoo effort could have a backlash effect. Male leaders may be reluctant to mentor or otherwise support women fearing that their behaviors could be misunderstood as harassment. There will hopefully be a trend for more education to support everyone in better understanding boundaries and what respectful behaviors across gender look like—going beyond following the letter of the laws to behaving based on the spirit of the laws. This will have global implications as well because there are vastly different interpretations across cultures as to the definitions of inappropriate behavior and language.
What trends are you noticing? We’ll explore more in next week’s “The Buzz”.