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Time to double down on diversity and inclusion

Leila McKenzie Delis, Founder and CEO of DIAL Global, speaks about what’s in store for diversity and inclusion in 2023. The DIAL Global Diversity Review takes a holistic approach to Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging and Equity (DIBE) measuring UK and US businesses across 10 facets of diversity.

Now’s the time for HR leaders to take accountability for the year ahead and make decisions that are beneficial not just for your own business, but for society as a whole. While 2022 saw some improvements, with DIBE, sustainability and ESG all placing higher on the business agenda, there is still a long way to go.

There is a merciless pace in the modern world and society is unwilling to forgive those who don’t embrace change quickly. This sense of urgency needs to be reflected in the business world too. Here are four trends and predictions that I hope, and believe, will shape diversity and inclusion this year…

1.    Diversity and Inclusion must be recognised as a key commercial business driver

Despite the ongoing cost of living crisis having a significant impact not just on the average consumer, but on businesses as a whole, there is still hope that 2023 will bring economic growth and prosperity. DIBE has been proven time and time again to play an essential role in this.

It can act as a huge commercial lever – increasing creativity, improving productivity and, overall, boosting profits.

Organisations that place DIBE at the centre of their business model have a significant advantage over those that don’t. A diverse workforce brings new and varied ways of thinking, but also a fresh perspective and exciting ideas.

Plus, it’s been shown in numerous studies that a more diverse team will outperform less diverse competitors – with profitability increasing by up to 35% in some cases.

Focusing on diversity, inclusion belonging and equity is a real no brainer for companies wanting economic growth this year, so it’s essential they understand and embrace DIBE across all of its facets.

Our CEO Activist pledge aims to create more inclusive workforces across the UK, educating businesses about the unparalleled benefits of further DIBE. The commitment from top CEOs across the country that they will actively measure their progress in these areas is huge. Big businesses, like M&S and the Co-op, are part of this movement, ensuring they’re doing their bit to further diversity, inclusion, belonging and equity across the UK.

We hope to go even further in 2023, evolving the pledge into the CEO Activist Council to help ensure our work is seen as an essential resource to policymakers across the UK.

2.    Brand transparency as a necessity

Over the past few years, we’ve seen brand transparency sit at the heart of consumer purchasing decisions, so there’s no doubt this trend will continue into 2023.

According to a recent study, almost 96% of Gen Z respondents indicated that they were willing to pay a premium for brands they deem transparent.

What’s more, the public is savvy to smoke and mirror DIBE efforts. Greenwashing or diversity-washing have no place in 2023; companies need to make genuine changes to ensure continued custom.

2022 also saw the rise of BCorporations. Certified B Corporations, or B Corps, are companies verified to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.

We’ve seen big brands such as Innocent Smoothies and Patagonia achieve BCorp status and 2023 will no doubt see more brands gun for the accreditation.

What will really be interesting, is what companies like these will do post achieving BCorp status. Will they continue to make positive changes or rest easy now they’ve achieved accreditation? Because as we know, there is always more that can be done and the very best companies are always looking to improve.

3.    Diversity will continue to drive controversial headlines

Unfortunately, diversity has, and will continue to be used as a controversial wedge, providing fuel and controversial narratives that ultimately divide society.

We often see news surrounding diversity given the precursor of ‘woke’ or ‘politically correct,’ positioning any steps in the right direction in an automatically negative light.

Unfortunately, I do expect to see this narrative continue into 2023, but training initiatives and awareness schemes, like our DIAL Global Diversity Review, are in place to help put this behaviour to bed once and for all.

Over the course of 2023 I hope to see businesses across the globe reclaim these prejudicial headlines, implementing progressive and forward-thinking initiatives and shaking off the shackles of these unhelpful media headlines.

4.    More sophisticated ways of reporting

2023 stands to be the year for data, data and more data.

One of my favourite management expressions is “what gets measured gets managed,” and diversity and inclusion is no exception.

2022 saw companies implement more sophisticated KPIs and measurement processes to provide a greater understanding of the effects of DIBE policy implementation, and I expect to see this continue into 2023.

KPMG, for example, committed to having 29% of its workforce coming from lower socio-economic backgrounds by 2030, in addition to being recognised as a Living Wage accredited employer. I hope to see more companies make similar pledges this year, especially those involved with our CEO Activist Pledge.

In 2023, I expect we will see companies provide a greater level of detail, metrics and data to stakeholders to prove the significant ROI of DIBE. Transparency and measurement are key.

What’s more, this greater understanding of the benefits of DIBE can help secure the budgets required to support important business initiatives for the future.

I hope 2023 is a year that encourages a greater level of diversity, inclusion, belonging and equity in the workplace. Yes, positive steps have been made, but the momentum is only just being picked up. We have so much further to go, and there are still lots of businesses that have buried their heads in the sand when it comes to DIBE.

By fostering a workplace culture that centres around DIAL Global’s 10 facets of diversity, businesses across the globe will undoubtedly unlock lots of positive effects. Profits and productivity will have more potential to soar, supporting the global economy when we need it most.

Governments and CEOs need to put DIBE much higher on the list of priorities, shaping the narrative from the top down to make 2023 a year of meaningful and measurable change.

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