In 2021, we saw a shift for the better – one towards a diverse workforce. Now we need to understand what diversity actually looks like in 2022. While more employers aspire toward a more diverse workforce, it doesn’t mean that we can’t do better. COVID-19 allowed us to reflect, however it also exacerbated the problem. In the workplace, women make up 39% of global employment although they accounted for 54% of overall job losses during COVID-19 according to McKinsey.
Emphasis on diversity has heightened. There have been new initiatives and policies implemented to ensure workplaces are diverse. However, we still have a long way to go. Men are still dominating certain fields or positions, and women of color are still struggling to progress in their careers.
So, what does the future hold for the diverse workforce?
Key diversity in 2022
Neurodiversity is a key topic that is being discussed and implemented more, and it’s an important one. Before, in discussions on diversity, neurodiversity wasn’t mentioned often. However, now employers are viewing it in a different light.
Neurodiversity is the diversity of human brains and minds, the infinite variation in neurocognitive functioning within our species.
The idea is that there is no correct way to learn or think, and in employment, these different ways of thinking will provide benefits. It’s a large talent pool that should be tapped into, and often isn’t.
AI and Tech
Bias can present itself in recruiting through AI technology. This resulted in cases where vendors had to adapt their tools to reduce chances of bias. This ensures that the organization’s hiring process is more fair and gives everyone equal opportunities.
One way for organizations to ensure their vendors are unbiased is by seeking out vendors whose goal is to improve diversity in their talent pool. They obtain talent from different backgrounds, which other vendors may overlook.
It’s crucial to understand how AI systems can potentially be biased and figure out ways to prevent or overcome this. Amazon experienced this with their AI tool which submitted more male candidates. To prevent bias in their recruitment process, they scrapped the tool completely.
Remote and flexible work
The workforce had to change overnight. Workplace diversity in 2022 certainly involves more remote, flexible, and hybrid working. Employees are starting to expect this working arrangement more often.
Some individuals are not able to go into the office from 9 to 5 every weekday. This could be the result of external factors, such as childcare or caring for a relative. Remote and flexible work can allow them to work around their schedule. For example, a parent may want to work during school hours to save money on childcare.
Remote work also allows neurodiverse workers who may struggle to concentrate due to distractions in their workplace to work without them. This in turn could massively benefit them and help them succeed at work.
One interesting expansion of diversity in 2022 is the adaptation of job requirements. There used to be this ideal (still is in some companies) that a candidate had to have ‘necessary skills’ and a certain amount of experience. However, times are changing.
There is a new understanding of what’s important to employers, and it’s not so much candidates’ skills but their personality and work ethic. Skills can be taught, that is now a universal fact. Whilst, a strong work ethic or personality that fits into the workplace culture cannot be taught.
This provides huge benefits to everyone, particularly women and neurodivergent individuals. For women applying to jobs, meeting the requirements can be a big hurdle. According to a report from Hewlett-Packard, women only apply for a job if they meet 100% of the qualifications, while men apply if they meet as little as 60%.
So why is this? In a report, 15% of women said that they didn’t apply to certain jobs because they were “following the guidelines about who should apply”. So, in this case, ‘less is more’ in job advertisements, in the sense that you don’t need a long list of ‘requirements’. Instead, only add the skills that are the most important for candidates to have. If not, companies may be missing out on great candidates that could add a lot of value.
Diversifying the workforce in recent years has become more important. While it’s getting better, there are more improvements that companies could work towards. Neurodiversity is becoming a vital discussion in regards to workforce diversification. Changes need to be made, and it’s better to adapt now than further down the line. Make the changes that will benefit your workers, so it in turn can benefit your company.