2021 DEI Organizational Trends

As a result of the 2020 pandemic, protest, and politics, neutrality is no longer a leadership option! As a result, many organizations have reached out to Tangible Development, with specific requests to support their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) challenges and initiatives. This reactive response to workforce needs lead us to the deeper conversation around cultural transformation to humanize business.

What We’ve Found

Organizational leaders from public, nonprofit, and corporate sectors, expressed their concerns and uncertainty on how to create meaningful and sustainable change in their organization. As a DEI consulting firm, our responsibility is to understand their needs and determine if we are the right partner to support these goals.

What we’re finding is that, as a whole, organizations want to operationalize diversity, equity, and inclusion at their organization. Leaders want to set realistic goals supported by data. The journey can be overwhelming and require the support of experienced DEI professionals to help establish the infrastructure to carry forward the work of cultural transformation.

To set realistic DEI goals, we need to understand the current state of DEI in an organization. Through our relationally-based assessment process, we are able to engage staff at all level in an organization across industries types and sizes to better understand their internal DEI culture through qualitative and quantitative data collections.

Using a DEI maturity model, we show organizations where they land operationally from unaware to disruptive. More often than not, they believe they are further along than in actuality. Conversations with leadership teams prior to assessments reveal that leaders within organizations don’t always agree on where they are in their level of DEI maturity. Our assessment work and capacity building helps to build consensus and align leadership understanding of DEI language and vision. This is the foundation from which strategic plans can be made and implemented.

Our approach differs from leading with DEI related trainings. In fact, throughout the DEI industry, debates around the efficacy of bias training (stand alone trainings in particular) has helped to shift focus to building cultures of inclusion and belonging through policy and practice changes. Organization wide buy-in is a key indicator of how successful a change plan will be.

DEI Goals

What We’re Predicting

As this shift continues to take form, we feel the demands for data transparency will drive accountability with measurable results. Based on our data collection thus far, we predict the following 2021 trends for Diversity Equity and Inclusion

Increased Need for Trust and Transparency – More workforce data will be analyzed and scrutinized. Organizations must prepare to share data at all layers of the organization and prepare for accountability in decision making. Staff and stakeholders will continue to demand more of this.

Development of More Equitable Policies and Practices– Keeping in mind increased justice and equity in our communities, our DEI data analysts continue to collect more sophisticated data on perception of fairness in hiring practices, vendor supplier selection, performance management, compensation, workforce wellbeing, and bias incidents to name a few. These insights will continue to inform our Inclusion Strategists tangible recommendations to shape policies and practices that lead to measurable change.

Proactive Action and Accountability -Transparent, ethical leadership and data management are now critical to survival. Our social science research approach aligned with business strategy precipitated the development of our climate assessment tool. Changing demands continue to accelerate the need for behavior science tools to assist leaders of organizations in making informed talent decisions and rethinking the employee life cycle in creative ways.

Future Forward

Organizations will face increased pressure to be more transparent. We encourage leadership to lean into the vulnerabilities that inspire cultures within their organizations that are safe, embracing, and as a result creative. True systemic cultural transformation is born from values, needs, challenging the status quo, and demands from a constantly changing workforce.

Ask yourself:

  1. How can my organization pivot to adjust to these 2021 DEI trends?
  2. Do we have the infrastructure and accountability measures in place to respond to the transparency of the future?
  3. What support and resources do we need?