• John Bell

Future Work: The Diversity & Inclusion Mandate


["The Diversity & Inclusion Mandate" is one of 5 Near-term Realities of Future Work. Click here to see all five.]


Many large corporations have hired Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officers to lead change inside their organizations. They often report to the CEO and are empowered to help steward change throughout a company. There's leadership diversity - making sure the board and C-suite reflect community diversity - and there are DE&I practices throughout the company like removing bias in hiring and promotions and simply helping people realize and remedy bias and microaggressions in everyday work life.


Change can happen at the top and also in the many small ways managers and staff interact.


McKinsey highlights current examples of bias and microaggressions in their Women and the Workplace study. Women of all types reported a significantly higher incidence of disrespectful behaviors like being talked over in meetings, having their judgment questioned, or having others in the business comment on their emotional state.


And it's not all about these behaviors, it's also about real opportunity. McKinsey reports,

"Women of color continue to lose ground at every step in the pipeline—between the entry-level and the C-suite, the representation of women of color drops off by more than 75 percent.”

Large public companies have additional motivation to improve. Investment companies now research and rank them on their environmental, social, and governance record (ESG) which includes DE&I progress. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) issues and initiatives are not just a "big company thing."


Mid-size, private businesses that operate locally or regionally and small businesses are at various stages of adopting more equitable practices. Many have strong DE&I cultures and practices already.


New Mandate

Just consider three new pressures or incentives for businesses of all types to accelerate progress:


Employee Demand: Future staff want a just and inclusive workplace.

Glassdoor reports,

“Nearly 1/3 of employees and job seekers (32%) would not apply to a job at a company where there is a lack of diversity among its workforce."

Leadership Belief

Business leaders are increasingly seeing the benefit to the bottom line of having a diverse workforce and inclusive practices. They recognize the importance this holds for their future workforce, they read the business data about the positive impact on innovation and revenue, and they see the growing public expectation that businesses take a stand on big issues.


HBR summarizes the financial case for diversity,

“Companies with above-average total diversity, measured as the average of six dimensions of diversity (migration, industry, career path, gender, education, age), had both 19% points higher innovation revenues and 9% points higher EBIT margins, on average.”

New Digital Tools

Now we can measure and nudge change. Counting board seats or C-suite members doesn’t require tools. Companies are either moving towards greater diversity and inclusion at the top or not. Company-wide behaviors from hiring practices to manager-report interactions to promotions and providing opportunities take understanding, behavior change, and a way to benchmark progress.


New digital tools like Textio and Inclusion Advisor from workhuman are examples of tools meant to nudge awareness and change.

Textio is a digital platform that analyzes recruitment writing to help companies become aware of biased language and adjust to attract more diverse talent. The Textio predictive engine is based on hiring data from millions of applicants. Zillow has used Textio to identify a male orientation in the language of recruitment ads and dramatically reduce that bias and attract more diverse applicants.



Inclusion Advisor from workhuman is a digital platform that integrates into an employee recognition system and uses AI to help the manager recognize bias. People have long-established ways of communicating and may lack some awareness of how that can impact others. An example is a well-intentioned email meant to deliver praise for a job well done. The writer, in this case, qualifies the contribution by saying "you are a role model for other women on the team." By mentioning gender, the writer is diminishing the impact. Inclusion Advisor alerts the writer and suggests they make a simple change to "you are a role model for everyone."


To attract and keep the best talent at a time when that talent is harder to come by, businesses can make authentic commitments to improving their culture and practices no matter how good they feel they have done in the past.



Future Work: 5 Near-Future Realities was originally delivered as a live presentation to the Economic Forum of Albuquerque in 2022.


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