DEI professionals today, many brand-new to the job, have found themselves holding some of the most challenging positions in business. They must constantly evolve their skill sets and expertise to keep up with a rapidly changing landscape and heightened expectations—by employees, the media, and consumers—to have all the answers to very difficult-to-answer questions.
Last year, Seramount advisors released a set of predictions as organizations were increasing their commitment to DEI while simultaneously inventing hybrid work models to adapt to a new post-pandemic world of work. This year, it’s time to highlight the ROI of that momentum with the threat of a recession looming.
Here’s what DEI leaders should look out for in 2023:
It’s important to keep an eye on key economic indicators as we enter a predicted recession in the global economy. Companies have already started to cut back on DEI programs, personnel, and budget that they created after the upsetting events in 2020 (COVID-19, racial injustice, and political unrest). DEI initiatives that are not sustained will result in a lack of progress, and DEI work becomes a never-ending cycle of responding to the crisis of the day. To maintain resources and ensure continued investment in DEI, diversity leaders will need to demonstrate the value of their teams by tracking key metrics and listening to the employee voice.
“Employees and consumers are taking back power and demanding sincere commitment. Organizations that use the recession as an excuse for why they reduce their diversity functions are going to have a rude awakening in the long term.”Nicole Johnson, DEI Advisor, Seramount
A recent Seramount survey of 200+ Employee Resource Group (ERG) members found that 98% believed ERGs to be extremely important to creating an inclusive culture. In the coming year, Seramount predicts that organizations will leverage these groups as a resource for corporate response input when making statements both internally and externally. They’ll continue to play a pivotal role in recruitment outreach for historically excluded talent and in sustaining inclusive cultures to help shape the Employee Value Proposition. We will also see a rise in recognition programs for ERGs and their leaders, with some organizations even choosing to compensate ERG leaders for this work. “I’d like to see more ERG leaders be promoted within their day jobs,” says Megan Pierouchakos, DEI advisor. “ERG leadership should emerge as a differentiating factor in job mobility and career pathing within an organization.”
“ERGs will play an important role in backing up DEI teams and expressing concerns about budget cuts and layoffs. They are a unified voice to tell leaders what resonates with employees and let them know when something needs to change.”Kamina Young, DEI Advisor, Seramount
Companies are going to struggle with getting younger talent into the office now that they know they can work from anywhere. For Gen Z, work-life blend is their world of work. Historically excluded talent groups also feel more comfortable working from where they choose. “In 2023, I think that we will see employers trying to find the right balance and looking for ways to create more structure around remote work,” says DEI advisor Sarah Crump. “Gen Z is here to stay, and if organizations want to retain top talent, they will need to evolve their strategy to meet employee expectations.”
Now that workplace models are shifting, organizations will need to consider compensation and support for those who work from home. Seramount predicts an increase in new and innovative benefits such as Wi-Fi reimbursement, monitors, phone coverage, office supplies and childcare. According to data from the 2022 100 Best Companies, 93% of the leading organizations are offering back up emergency childcare, while 36% are reimbursing working parents for their everyday childcare. We also expect to see an increased focus on benefits that support individuals (i.e., pet insurance) rather than family-focused packages. “It’ll be important for Human Resources professionals to find ways to support and sustain the hybrid and remote environment through added benefits,” says DEI advisor Nichelle Wash.
“Mental health initiatives will continue to gain traction. Burnout and external stressors infiltrate our everyday lives, including political and social unrest, the impact of elections globally, and geopolitical conflict across the globe. Workplaces will have to provide the space for people to process these situations.”Megan Pierouchakos, DEI Advisor, Seramount
“Chief Diversity Officers” and “DEI practitioners” have been some of the fastest growing job titles over the past five years, according to LinkedIn data. And with growth comes a steep learning curve. Now that these leaders have been in seat for a while, there is a deeper understanding of the role’s challenges and complexities. “Many people who took these jobs two years ago because they were passionate about DEI are feeling the effects of having responsibility but no authority,” says Nicole Johnson. “It’s time for organizations to recognize this and course correct. CDOs need a seat at the table.”
We are experiencing a unique moment in history when the way we work is rapidly changing. Companies that are redoubling investment in their DEI programs to fortify their initiatives and strategies are ensuring that no matter what uncertainty lie ahead, their talent pipeline, brand reputation, corporate culture, market valuations and board confidence are secure. DEI is no longer a moral imperative; it is a business imperative in today’s climate.
Interested in learning more about Seramount and how our solutions can support the advancement of your organization’s DEI strategy? Contact us.