· 3 min read
I asked the Magic 8 Ball if DE&I will have a good 2024 and it told me, “Ask again later.”
But instead of going back to the Magic 8 Ball, I asked DE&I experts what other leaders should expect next year. The results? More of a “Reply hazy” than anything else.
Belt tightening. Many organizations reduced DE&I budgets in 2023, and Jarvis Sam, founder of the Rainbow Disruption, a DE&I consultancy, and former chief diversity officer at Nike and Snap, believes that trend will continue in 2024. “Organizations are trying to balance their approach to government and public affairs,” he explained. “That’s going to come at odds with each other, as the political landscape intensifies, and as we will see politicians particularly in more public, national and state debates, using DE&I as a lynchpin point of discussion and decision-making.”
Legal 🤝 DE&I. Experts believe that the industry will see more reverse discrimination lawsuits as a result of the politics associated with DE&I. Debra Steiner Friedman, a labor and employment attorney, believes the reverse discrimination cases could cause a shift in DE&I, as organizations may try to limit any litigation risks. “Employers will review their programs and policies in light of the US Supreme Court case,” she said, referencing affirmative action. “Employers may be less likely to tie compensation to meeting certain demographic metrics.”
Sam similarly explained that the industry, “will likely find a lot of organizations starting to tie into DE&I strategy much closer to legal offices in organizations than just HR offices, because that's where we’re starting to see the greatest amount of energy.”
Multi-generational workforce. Burgette White, country head of HR at recruiting firm Adecco, believes that the multi-generational workforce will be a larger focus for DE&I teams. Older workers are staying in the workforce longer. “That is also creating some complexity, but a healthy opportunity in the space as we continue to integrate in the multi-generational workforce because that is here to stay even longer than we might have anticipated,” she said.
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GenAI could impact diversity efforts. GenAI has been popping up everywhere lately, as industries from HR to law, predict a greater influence. DE&I isn’t any different, according to Humera Shahid, chief DE&I officer at Intuit. “We know that having diverse teams means you get diverse perspectives, which means you build better products and services,” she explained, pointing out that AI relies on inputs from humans. “Those tools that we’re using benefit from having diversity.”
Quiet progress. DE&I journeys are expected to continue, in spite of the hurdles that await leaders. “Organizations that have historically already had really strong strategies, we will continue to see them leading in the space,” Sam said. “But it will be questionable if they’re as out front as they have historically been.”
On the other hand, Carin Taylor, chief diversity officer, at Workday, an HR and financial software firm, believes that diverse voices will be louder amid the political discourse. “Against the backdrop of this divided world, organizations will face mounting pressure to maintain inclusive workplaces and ensure their people feel like they belong,” Taylor said in an email. “The ones that get ahead will focus on what unites their workforce versus divides them—encouraging employees to navigate differences with curiosity, compassion, and courage so that they can operate respectfully and coexist safely, in order to do their best work.”