In 2024, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) steps into the spotlight, balancing both transformative potential and unprecedented challenges. DEI leaders, no strangers to uncharted territory, brace for a year filled with unpredictability and profound change. As the year unfolds, navigating this dynamic landscape will demand unparalleled agility, creativity, resilience—and above all a steadfast commitment to building a more inclusive future for all. Buckle up, DEI trailblazers – 2024 will be a wild ride.
To equip CDOs and Talent leaders with strategic foresight, Seramount experts have compiled a list of the top five trends that will reshape the DEI landscape in the coming year. Developed from the insights of our distinguished DEI advisors who have served as senior DEI leaders, HR vice presidents, and have over 50 years of cumulative experience in the DEI and Talent landscape. This year’s predictions will guide executive leaders preparing a DEI strategy capable of meeting new challenges and seizing strategic opportunities. These actionable insights offer an in-depth exploration of what lies ahead in 2024—a pivotal year in DEI encompassing a polarizing election, new legislative and legal challenges, and the continued rise of Gen Z in the workforce.
1. AI Impact on DEI: Risks and Opportunities
The pervasive influence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on DEI is a central theme in 2024, introducing both risks and opportunities for organizations. AI’s integration into recruitment processes has become a focal point, particularly in resume filtering and candidate evaluation. The apprehension arises from the inherent biases within AI algorithms, potentially perpetuating and even exacerbating existing biases present in recruitment.
While there is a legitimate fear of biased AI perpetuating inequalities, there is an opportunity for organizations to proactively address these concerns. Some propose leveraging Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) as testing grounds for AI features, allowing organizations to assess the fairness and inclusivity of algorithms before full-scale implementation. This not only helps in refining AI tools but also reinforces the collaborative nature of DEI efforts.
Beyond recruitment, there is growing curiosity about AI’s potential in managing ERGs. The concept involves implementing AI in ERG management systems to extract and analyze data from centralized HR repositories. This could provide valuable insights into the impact of ERGs on the workplace, aiding organizations in tailoring their DEI strategies more effectively.
“AI implementation in ERG management systems could streamline data analysis and offer insights into the impact of ERGs in the workplace.”
– Kamina Young, Senior Director, DEI Advisory, Seramount
2. CDO Role Expansion: Guiding Talent Amidst Societal Shifts
The position of Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) has evolved over the past couple of years. Last year, our advisors predicted that CDOs would need to be more transparent about the challenges they face in this role. This year, the role of CDOs is expected to expand, with a focus on providing guidance on societal issues rather than just company-specific concerns. “CDOs will gain more oversight on talent in hopes that they will be able to provide a perspective and guidance on this area, especially in response to affirmative action rulings,” says Nicole Johnson, Senior Director of DEI Advisory. She adds, “Talent management may shift to CDOs as organizations seek faster progress in representation.” CDOs will navigate the changing landscape by reframing messaging and becoming adept negotiators. They might take on additional responsibilities related to holistic learning and employee engagement.
“CDOs will become stronger negotiators and relationship managers, with an expanded role encompassing holistic learning and employee engagement. Job market dynamics, including downsizing in DEI organizations, may influence the timing of filling CDO positions.”
– Megan Pierouchakos, Senior Director, DEI Advisory, Seramount
3. Balancing Employee Expectations and DEI Pushback
The year 2024 is anticipated to mark a significant change cycle for DEI initiatives. As the United States experiences increased volatility, organizations may witness a potential decline in engagement scores. This could be attributed to heightened uncertainties in the current sociopolitical climate that are affecting the overall sentiment within the workforce. Employee surveys will continue to be a cornerstone in the provision of understanding organizational dynamics. However, merely collecting data is not enough. Building and maintaining trust will require organizations to act decisively on the feedback received, demonstrating a commitment to addressing concerns and fostering a culture of transparency.
Successfully navigating the complex landscape of employee expectations and DEI pushback will require organizations to leverage ERGs, prioritize transparency, and take decisive actions based on employee feedback to foster a workplace that is truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
4. The Evolution of ERGs: Restructuring and Global Expansion
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are experiencing rapid growth, outpacing the capacity of DEI teams. Metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) will play a crucial role in showcasing ERG impact, with a focus on job mobility and talent connection. “ERGs are becoming more integrated into broader DEI strategies, and decentralization is a notable trend as large companies split, affecting ERG structures,” says Kamina Young, Senior Director of DEI Advisory. New ERGs, particularly religious ones, are emerging, and the trend of ERGs being transformed to Business Resource Groups (BRGs) continues.
Global expansion is another key theme for ERGs, with a focus on interconnectivity across different locations. In-person interactions are gaining popularity, and ERGs are diversifying to include interfaith, caregiver, and intersectional groups. ERGs are actively contributing to the talent lifecycle, with leaders receiving awards and recognition for their efforts.
5. Shifting Focus: Redefining Diversity Metrics and Accountability
This year, we are witnessing a profound shift in the way organizations approach diversity metrics and accountability. Traditionally, the emphasis on tying diversity metrics to the bottom line has been a cornerstone of DEI strategies. However, the emerging trend suggests a departure from a one-size-fits-all approach, acknowledging the need for a more nuanced understanding of diversity and its impact on organizational success.
The redefinition of diversity metrics involves moving beyond simplistic, quantitative measurements that predominantly focused on financial outcomes. Organizations are recognizing that true diversity encompasses a spectrum of experiences, identities, and perspectives. This shift prompts a reevaluation of the language used and the motivators employed to foster a more comprehensive and inclusive DEI strategy.
In the United States, the accountability landscape surrounding DEI-related bonuses is undergoing a significant reexamination. “The conventional link between financial incentives and DEI goals is being reconsidered in light of evolving risk versus reward dynamics,” says Nicole Johnson. “Organizations are questioning the effectiveness of bonuses in driving meaningful diversity outcomes, signaling a broader trend toward redefining the incentive structures that underpin DEI initiatives.”
Furthermore, the intentional focus on specific diversity dimensions, such as race and ethnicity, observed prominently in the transformative year of 2020, is undergoing deliberate scrutiny. Kamina Young pointed out that “2020 had a huge focus on race and ethnicity, including increased support for the Black community, but this type of motivator may no longer be an intentional practice.” Certain terminology around diversity, particularly race/ethnicity, may no longer be a deliberate focus, signaling a shift from the intense focus of 2020.
These predictions constitute our best guess as to what to expect in this new year, but the reality is that DEI work is constantly changing. With the profession coming under increasing attack, DEI practitioners need to start reframing the language around DEI. As today’s social climate becomes increasingly volatile, DEI practitioners will increasingly be turned to for answers to hard questions, reinforcing the importance of DEI’s seat at the table.
“2024 is going to be the next cycle of significant change for DEI work.”
– Nicole Johnson, Senior Director, DEI Advisory, Seramount
If you would like to learn more about Seramount’s work and how we can support your organization’s DEI strategy, contact us.