This article was originally published on January 10, 2020 by Chiradeep BasuMallick on hrtechnologist.com.

The world has changed, and the workplace has become more inclusive over time. But despite making incremental progress, the state of diversity and inclusion is far from optimal. In this article, we look at:

  • How organizations moved closer towards their vision for inclusivity in 2019
  • 5 diversity and inclusion trends that will define the workplace in 2020
  • Technologies that could aid in enabling diversity

It’s a proven fact that diversity and inclusion in the workplace are good for business. Despite this, several organizations around the world continue to demonstrate a lack of diversity. For example, Microsoft’s 2019 Diversity and Inclusion report suggests that over two-thirds of the company’s global workforce still comprises men. There’s been a marginal drop from 73.4% in 2018 to 72.3% this year — but this is far from a fast-evolving diverse and inclusive organization.

Companies require stricter measures when prioritizing inclusivity in the workplace, with an eye on the different minority groups, genders, and generations, progressive company values, and equitable work practices. Let’s look at five diversity and inclusion trends that will define 2020.

Learn More: Gender Inequality in the Workplace Is Becoming Hard to Ignore

5 Diversity and Inclusion Trends That Will Change 2020’s Workplaces
Several sectors are notorious for being biased against particular groups. For example, the #MeToo movement revealed years of discrimination in media & entertainment, later expanding to other sectors. There’s also a shortage of Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) employees in the technology sector, a cross-industry unwillingness to hire previously incarcerated professionals, and the rising size of the multigenerational workforce, from boomers to millennials.

2020 is the year that such prejudices give way to greater inclusivity in the workplace. This will require stringent measures, in line with the current diversity and inclusion trends. Here are our five predictions:

  1. Diversity will be a business model, not just part of company values

For a long time, diversity was looked at as a mere compliance requirement, necessitating a specific ethical stance from corporates. It’s common to find mission statements that “commit to” or claim to “make best efforts towards” keeping up with diversity and inclusion. Unfortunately, such claims are intangible and many companies don’t openly validate their efforts toward diversity.

In 2020, we will see more companies embracing diversity as part of their business model. Tech giant Intel has already announced that a new “Intel Rule” is in the works that will bar the company from partnering with any law firm with an average or below-average diversity score from 2021.

Intel isn’t afraid to get stringent – it realizes that lawyers they have collaborated with for decades will now be left out. But the company’s EVP, Steven R Rodgers, feels this is necessary: “Intel cannot abide by the current state of progress – it is not enough, and progress is not happening fast enough.

2. “Male allies” programs will gain more popularity

This diversity and inclusion trend belongs on the radar of any HR practitioner. Male allies programs can give your workforce the advocacy it needs to gain recognition, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Given that men still form the majority in most companies, such programs can be highly effective.

Barclays started nurturing male allies way back in 2015. Since then, the number of supporters has grown from 1,449 to over 12,000. This year, the company launched its external male allies toolkit in addition to the #MorePowerfulTogether campaign.

You can get on board this trend by partnering with groups such as Forte Foundation, alltogether.swe.org, and similar others in your region.

Learn More: #RespondTo #MeToo – The Simple Solution Every Employer Needs

3. Candidates with criminal records will demand fair and equal attention

Historically, candidates with criminal records have been a discriminated-against demographic across the global workforce. For example, some job applications in the U.S. have a box to be checked if the candidate has a criminal record. This causes the risk of unconscious bias creeping in during the screening process.

But this year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) had a historic win as it settled a six-year-long litigation process with an employer that used criminal history to sway minority job applications. The company will now pay $6 million – distributed among aggrieved individuals, sending a clear message to employers across the country.

In 2020, you might consider hiring people with a criminal record to meet the talent shortage. Remember to help them transition seamlessly into gainful employment, and discover their true potential.

4. Job descriptions, employee communication, and other HR content will be worded more sensitively

The wording of such communications may seem small on the surface, but it has a significant impact on how your candidates perceive the company. This year, LinkedIn found that language definitely matters, as 44% of women surveyed were deterred by the use of the word “aggressive” in a job description. There are similar variances across other genderized words/phrases, such as “likable,” “demanding,” and “supportive.”

In 2020, all HR communication – both internal and external – will be worded more sensitively, keeping in mind two things. First, it will enable diversity when hiring. Second, it will foster a sense of inclusion among the entire workforce by avoiding the use of genderized terminology.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that “they” was Merriam-Webster’s 2019 word of the year! The dictionary recognized how “they” can refer to a single person whose gender identity is non-binary.

5. All recruitment tools will be diversity recruitment tools

Moving from compliance-focused diversity hiring to a more holistic sense of inclusivity will be a key diversity and inclusion trend this year. For this reason, any recruitment platform you use will have a diversity parameter, ensuring minimum bias in the hiring process.

This trend is demonstrated by the rise of diversity and inclusion startups in the last few years. One of them is Jopwell, a platform meant to help “black, Latinx, and Native American” job seekers to advance their careers.

Another platform, Equiv, was launched this year, specifically brings the power of AI to prioritize diversity and inclusion. Finally, tools such as Applied and Headstart help to hire for talent without bias.

Learn More: The Future of Gender Pay Equality Relies on Today’s Leaders

2020 Is the Year of Tougher Diversity Hiring Measures
Diversity and inclusion in 2020 are expected to get more serious and measures to enable it will get tougher, as evidenced by the trends mentioned above. We have made significant progress in the right direction over the last decade, but it’s now time to accelerate this momentum.

It isn’t that companies like Microsoft aren’t making positive changes – the number of women, Asians, Hispanics, and multiracial employees at the company is on the rise. But the pace of inclusion is slow to reach an equitable work climate anytime soon.

This is why we recommend that every company study and stay ahead of diversity and inclusion trends closely. By doing this, they can realign their business and people practices to build an inclusive and nurturing work environment for all their employees.

Which diversity and inclusion trend do you think will make the biggest difference in 2020? We’d love to hear about your perspective.

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