2021 Trends in Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

 2021 Trends in Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

By Lisa Guerin Cervenka

I’ve been at Kanarys since May. I got here by chance, interviewing our founder and CEO, Mandy Price, for my blog on “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Tech to Watch” last March. Mandy and I hit it off and she called shortly after to offer me the chance to help Kanarys. I knew this was an important next step in my desire to make the workplace more inclusive. DEI work is sacred to me for so many reasons: I just converted to Judaism, I am a suicide survivor (my mom died by suicide when I was a teen), I have so many people I love in my family who identify as LGBTQ and the trauma that my black and brown friends endure is pretty much unspeakable.

I had no idea what was to come next but I never hesitated at the chance to work with Kanarys and love working so hard for a mission I wholeheartedly believe in. We help folks Work Where You Belong™.

Being a Brand and Communications professional, trends are my thing. I’ve worked with Mandy to identify a few DEI trends for 2021 and would LOVE your feedback. Here’s what we identified so far:

  • DEI roles become permanent positions. Many more companies will bring on a permanent, internal D&I leader as opposed to outside consultants to help implement new strategies to make their workplace more equitable. As of August this year, DEI job openings had increased by 55% since early June of this year, proving that companies are prioritizing making changes from within to advance racial equity. 
  • Diversity metrics will become mandatory. Reporting will become mandatory for many companies and will start to include intersectionality and attrition. More companies will engage DEI reporting platforms, such as Kanarys, to ensure their organization’s policies and procedures are equitable through objective data. These insights will include things like the disclosure of key diversity metrics (board, senior executive, workforce, and supplier diversity) on an annual basis and conducting periodic pay equity reviews. For example, NASDAQ recently proposed a mandate that would require further board diversity as reported by companies. Additionally, similar to Kanarys, technology, like AI, natural language process (NLP), will be used to identify where companies are falling short in terms of their DEI initiatives by reengineering the way data is collected, managed, analyzed, and reported.
  • Increase in supplier diversity. More companies are seeing the importance of vendor and supplier diversity and begin to implement this into their business model. In 2021, we will see more companies hiring diverse suppliers in order to be more inclusive throughout their business, creating economic opportunities as well as enhancing their businesses.
  • Pushing DEI to also include “justice.” In addition to diversity, equity, and inclusion, many DEI professionals are now adding “justice” to the acronym, making it DEIJ. This calls for companies to work justice into their DEI initiatives, recognizing the difficulties for so many that have taken place in the past. 
  • Anti-racism will be front and center. Training and workshops around DEI will look very different in 2021, moving from unconscious bias training to antiracism training. DEI executives are realizing that unconscious bias training is often not effective and will begin to move towards workshops focused on being actively anti-racist in the workplace. Antiracism training will teach employees to directly call out and turn away from racism, rather than turning a blind eye to it.

Inclusive language will be the workplace standard. Inclusive language will become part of normal office culture. Companies will encourage their employees to shift their language patterns to be more inclusive, with more appropriate terminology becoming the new standard. Many companies may even encourage their employees to add their preferred pronouns in their email signature as a way to show inclusivity. Here are some examples of terms to help foster a more inclusive environment where people can feel safe to bring their full selves to work. 

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