The latest ideas in Diversity and Inclusion Disected.
It’s January and many of us are setting goals and resolutions. We’re also asking ourselves what will the ‘year of Brexit’ bring. “Who knows?” must be the only reliable answer.
But when it comes to new D&I trends, here are 3 that I believe are here to stay:
- EQ is Queen
We all understand the importance of emotional intelligence; thought leaders have been telling us for decades how important it is to develop EQ, for personal and professional success. But it’s only in the past year or so that organisations have started to gain greater interest in exploring what a mature level of emotional intellect actually means for business. Examples of winning over difficult client relationships, bringing in more deals, accelerated promotions and effective leadership prowess are all fundamentally examples of people who have higher levels of EQ.
Companies are beginning to explore whether, and if so how, they can improve the EQ of their star performers, emerging leaders and – in the most forward thinking businesses – graduates and trainees. The trend is likely to continue to expand in 2019.
- The Rules of Inclusion
The I in D&I is there for a reason. To gain the benefit of diversity you need inclusion. There is little point in having a diverse team of people if they are not contributing with that diversity to the team’s success. To ensure they do, it’s important to create an inclusive environment in which each team member feels comfortable to be themselves.
I have listened in on sophisticated conversations among executives who understand that inclusive policies alone are not going to create inclusive cultures. Managers are beginning to understand what it takes to create and maintain an inclusive team and are developing rules and tools to implement them. One such rule is to welcome and value the voice of every member around the table, regardless of their gender, level of seniority or experience. The junior lawyer on a team has as much of a contribution to make as the senior partner of that firm, and creating an environment in which this is understood and appreciated is one such rule.
The rules of inclusion are not difficult; they just need practice, like any new habit – abiding by these new rules is yet another one of the bigger D&I trends that will properly hit the mainstream in 2019.
- Judging the book by its cover
Any organisation aiming to create an inclusive culture should familiarise itself with the concept of ‘Covering’: the practice of hiding certain aspects of one’s person or life in order to fit in with the dominant culture. An example might be a gay person avoiding the term ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ in reference to their partner out of concern s/he will be identified as an ‘outsider’ to the mainstream group.
The term ‘covering’ was coined as early as 1963, but a 2013 research report tells us that the majority of us cover an aspect of who we are when we go into work. More specifically, 83% of LGBT individuals, 79% of black people, 66% of all women and 45% of straight white men have admitted to ‘covering’ at work.
The problem with this is obvious: at a time when we need teams to be more diverse, creative and innovative, covering stifles the drive in our diversity and forces us to fit into a more conventional mould.
Companies that acknowledge the dichotomy between their aspirations for greater diversity and the pressures of their corporate culture to ‘cover’ are starting to talk about this openly, motivating colleagues to ‘bring their whole selves’ to work, pleading for respect of each other’s differences. Becoming aware of this concept and talking more openly about it will be – I predict – one of the main D&I trends in years to come.
These are what I consider to be the big new trends in the diversity and inclusion space. There are of course many others we see.
What do you think are the big trends in this arena? Email me to share your thoughts and I promise to respond.