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DEI in the Workplace: 2024 Trends and More 

In a recent Vaco webinar, Donald Thompson, co-founder and CEO of The Diversity Movement (a Workplace Options company), discussed the continued importance of DEI in the workplace, including key factors that are impacting DEI in the workplace today. Thompson also spent time forecasting trends that are likely to shape DEI efforts throughout 2024. Key concepts and takeaways from his 2024 DEI Business Briefing: Trends and Predictions presentation are included below. 

DEI in the Workplace Today 

Before reviewing forecasted trends for 2024, it’s important to acknowledge where organizations currently stand in their DEI efforts. As they continue to grapple with the ability to engage and embrace the workforce, there are six key factors to consider that are impacting their efforts.

  1. Organizations are still adapting to modified working arrangements since the COVID-19 pandemic. Ranging from managing hybrid, remote and in-office work policies to the implementation of flexible working arrangements, some in the form of the four-day work week.

  2. Organizations are increasing their awareness and commitment to their workforces by proactively providing mental health support and resources—and this is important to workers. In fact, according to a 2023 Work in America survey, 92% of respondents said that working for an organization that provides mental health support is important to them.

  3. Economic conditions and the residual impact of layoffs continue to cause anxiety among workers, with a recent survey revealing that just 36% of full-time workers polled feel secure in their current position.

    For the latest confidence measures, check out Vaco’s Q1 2024 Talent Pulse Report.

  4. Expanding demographics in categories like age, ethnicity, religion, education and more are causing organizations to promptly re-evaluate existing policies and strategies to address DEI efforts.

  5. The rapid advancement of technology, most notably generative AI and other machine learning options, is prompting organizations to address, or consider addressing, concerns around necessary regulations and the impact these innovations will have on the workforce.

  6. With 2024 being an election year in the U.S., continued political shifts and conversations are likely to trickle into the workplace which, if unaddressed or addressed inappropriately, can negatively impact morale and productivity.

2024 DEI Predictions

As organizations navigate existing challenges in 2024, it is equally as important to implement new and innovative strategies that not only highlight organizational DEI efforts but expand and improve them internally and externally. These efforts can not only act as a revenue driver but also establish an environment where organizations can attract and retain top talent. In his presentation, Thompson forecasted four trends that organizations can expect to shape DEI efforts in 2024, highlights of which are included below. 

1. An Expansive DEI Communications and PR Strategy

Organizations can drive revenue, save money and reduce risks in 2024 through the development and implementation of an expansive communications and PR strategy that incorporates the following tactics: 

  • Sharing success stories.

  • Connecting DEI efforts to business strategies.

  • Redefining what DEI in the workplace and in the community means.

  • Finding common ground on challenging topics.

  • Connecting organizational DEI offerings to personal well-being.

  • Providing a safe space and outlets to tell personal stories.

An effective DEI communications and PR strategy empowers workers to share these details internally and externally, establishing deeper and more meaningful professional relationships. 

2. Leadership Takes an Inclusive Approach  

When leaders buy into and support DEI efforts, it has a direct correlation to organizational success. Implementing tools like DISC assessments and 360-degree feedback programs provide pathways to actionable improvements, where a renewed focus from leadership around the following competencies can directly and positively impact organizational behaviors.

  • Communication: Is active listening being encouraged? Effective communication requires a two-way dialogue, where all participants feel comfortable and heard expressing their thoughts.

  • Collaboration: Is everyone being given a chance to voice their thoughts or ideas? This requires a thoughtful and deliberate approach where workers are encouraged to and feel comfortable speaking up.

  • Capability: Are individuals executing the requirements of their position and completing the associated tasks well within a team context?

  • Cultural Intelligence: Is there an understanding that all individuals come from a different background that can influence their perspectives on a range of topics, where leveraging these learnings can inform the ideal ways to work with them?

  • Reliability: Are leaders following through with their commitments? If there is a change, is it communicated? If so, is it communicated effectively and in a way that contributes to and builds trust?

  • Self-Awareness: Are individuals and leaders aware of the impact of their words and actions across the organization?

  • Growth Mindset: This helps leaders address challenges, capitalize on new opportunities and drive continuous improvement.

3. A Commitment to Learning and Growth Will Help Attract and Retain Top Talent 

Professionals want to work where they feel supported and are encouraged to grow. Gallup surveyed over 15,000 U.S. workers, finding that only 30% of respondents received recognition at work in the last seven days, and only 33% said they have had opportunities to learn and grow over the course of the past year. 

This opens the door for the implementation of mentorship and sponsorship programs. While both programs share the overarching goal to grow talent, they are executed in different ways. A mentor can provide guidance and share their knowledge with a less-experienced individual to improve in their specific role and is not limited to specific titles or positions. A sponsor, on the other hand, is an individual in a position of power that provides unique access to higher level meetings, opening the door to impactful introductions and career opportunities. Thompson defines sponsorship as the people who are saying your name in the rooms that matter when you’re not there.  

4. Workers Expect Pay Equity and a Clear Career Path 

Advances in pay equity continue to be an expectation among workers. A recent survey of over 4,400 workers showed that just half (51%) of respondents felt that promotion decisions are fairly awarded. Another survey on wage gaps found that half of American respondents learned that a colleague was being paid more than them in a similar role.  

Workers want to know that their employers not only value their contributions, but that they’re as valued as their colleagues with the same skill set and level of experience. An effective way for leaders to satisfy this need and retain their top talent is by proactively discussing clear career paths and unique goals for each team member, especially in one-on-one settings. This kind of conversation establishes trust and confidence, and in turn increases motivation and productivity across the organization.  

In Closing

DEI isn’t leaving the workforce anytime soon. A recent Workday survey found that of 2,600 global leaders surveyed, 85% said that their organization have a budget for DEI initiatives, with almost half of them expecting to increase their DEI budgets in the next year. Thompson says, “As business leaders and emerging leaders – the C-suite of the future – we must shape workplaces where individuals flourish. Creating healthy work environments, no matter where your people are in the world and whether they are remote, hybrid or in the office, is a fundamental driver of business success that is measurable and linked to bottom-line results.” 

As long as organizations continue to see the results of their DEI efforts, including increased employee engagement, improved staff well-being and tying these efforts to business impact, DEI efforts will continue to be prioritized to recruit and attract a diverse workforce. 

To access the full webinar on-demand, click here. 



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