Skip to content
Consultant Roundtable: Trends in DEIB & Our Bold Predictions for 2023

Consultant Roundtable: Trends in DEIB & Our Bold Predictions for 2023

In the final installment of our Consultant Roundtable series — you should also check out the first, second, and third entries — we asked our colleagues to share their perspectives on DEIB, how organizations are addressing action planning based on employee feedback, and remote work, as well as their predictions for 2023.

Is the Definition of DEIB Expanding?

Bradley Wilson, Director of Consulting Excellence: “Here at Perceptyx, we've been able to do some interesting projects focused on DEIB. We've seen some organizations asking specific questions about observing or experiencing discrimination within the workplace. While those experiences are often rare, they do have a lasting impact on the employee experience and the way that employees are perceiving the organization's culture and have a significant impact on an employee’s ability to anticipate future success with the organization.”

“You can understand how an individual instance can completely shape or reshape the way that people are thinking about their work. There are proactive steps that organizations can take, and some of them seem basic, but it comes back to the idea of demonstrating respect for individuals and designing experiences and programs that benefit everybody within the workplace.”

“There has been a little bit of pushback regarding DEIB that I've seen with some organizations that have traditionally been seen as non-political, and they took stances or made statements back in 2020 or thereafter and there has been some mixed reaction. I think the organizations that did DEIB well have positioned it as an opportunity to set people up for success and overcome some of the inherent barriers that have existed traditionally within organizations to support development, well-being, and the overall employee experience.”

“From a research standpoint, one of the important pieces that we've seen is a move beyond univariate analysis of comparing men versus women, acting as though all women have a shared experience and all men have a shared experience, into analysis that drills down into the concept of intersectionality and uses data to pinpoint some of those intersectional experiences. In a few cases, traditional quantitative analysis doesn't tell the whole story. And we may look at something and say, ‘Well, it's not statistically significant.’”

“In a lot of places, these intersectional groups are so small that no difference will be statistically significant, but there's an opportunity to lean into qualitative research methods because ultimately, we're trying to understand the lived experience. That's where comment data and digging in to understand some of those perceptions and experiences, while they may not be statistically significant, they're still valid for the experiences that people are having.”

“When this is done right, it also has an impact on all of the other topics that we're talking about in terms of retention and well-being and engagement. They all come together, and we're able to identify specific manager actions and core elements of the employee experience where it's not a question of, ‘do we focus on DEI, well-being, engagement, or retention?’ There are certain actions that we've seen make a difference in all of these areas.”

DEIB Progress Isn’t Uniform, But Leadership Makes a Big Difference

Michael Mian, Ph.D., Principal Consultant:Overall, our experience is that DEIB progress has been slow in most organizations. I think most organizations are still operating at a low level in terms of maturity, which means that they're focused on compliance and measuring DEIB. I think most of our clients include items or sections in the survey around DEIB, but may not necessarily do much with that data in a strategic sense.”

“As trends go within our data, DEIB scores tend to be fairly favorable and high. However, when you break it down and look at the results by gender, race, and other demographics, you notice patterns. For example, underrepresented ethnic groups and women, particularly Black or African American females, still experience lower sentiments around belonging as well as lower feelings of value and fairness in their organization than their male counterparts and all members of the majority group.”

“Having a great listening strategy is only one part of the solution. It's not the complete story. I'll point to a couple of things our former colleague, Gena Cox, who wrote the book Leading Inclusion, has recommended for organizations to be successful in this DEIB space. Number one, have someone in senior leadership with clout and commitment to lead inclusion initiatives. I think what we see in many organizations is that DEIB responsibilities are assigned to people or groups who may not have real authority or the resources to make things happen.”

“Second, develop strategies with clear diversity outcomes or goals, then hold leaders accountable for that. We have done some research showing that holding senior leaders accountable is the number one DEIB action that organizations can take. Organizations should also employ a good listening strategy, continuously listening to their employees through multiple modalities, whether that be traditional surveys, crowdsourcing, passive listening, or focus groups — then using this data to remove barriers to inclusion while identifying which parts of the DEIB strategy are working or not working.”

Action Planning Strategies for 2023

Lauren Beechly, Director of Client Consulting: “In the last year, I've seen an increase in two strategies that have proven to be very effective. The first is the idea of an accountability check-in. Many of the organizations we work with have this anchor census survey, where we're listening to everyone and getting ideas about that broader employee experience. What I've seen is many organizations following up one month later, ‘Have you talked about it in your team? Tell us what, as a team, you committed to take action on.’”

“What this does is create urgency for that leader to have a meaningful conversation with their team about the results. We’re not waiting a year or even three months later for another follow-up pulse. We're asking now. That leads to accountability regarding important conversations and critical actions. All of our team members can then communicate back what it is we've agreed to take action on.”

“The second strategy involves layering in other methods of listening that make taking action very easy to do at scale. Earlier, we mentioned employee crowdsourcing, and we continue to see an uptick in that method of listening. In most cases, that consists of asking an action-oriented question. What's the one action we can do to solve a particular problem? Soliciting those ideas, then having peers vote on them. The results are prioritized based on what our team members think is the most viable form of action.”

“We continue to see more and more organizations adopt this because it makes taking action very simple. We have a list of prioritized actions, and our employees are bought into that action because they've had a hand in identifying what that list is. Where should we focus that effort? While more and more organizations are adopting crowdsourcing, the research behind it has been around for decades. We can go back to Kurt Lewin — one of the founding fathers of organizational and applied psychology — and see that his research has shown that when people are involved in deciding on a change, they're more likely to adopt it. That's exactly what crowdsourcing is doing at scale. We're involving people in that solution at scale and moving to action quickly.”

Mature Organizations Support Action Plans with Data-driven Insights

Emily Killham, Director of Research and Insights: “We published some research earlier in 2022  that asked, ‘What's your biggest barrier to the success of your listening program?’ And there were two barriers that kept recurring, but one of the two that came up most was, ‘How do we create effective actions across the organization?’ I've heard many organizations say, ‘HR can't fix this for everyone,’ or, ‘How does that work? The most mature organizations we work with are taking multi-layered actions to address this.”

“How do we co-create those actions? How are we also targeting HR-specific actions that come from the inside? We talked about policy changes that say harassment and maltreatment by customers isn't okay. That's a policy action and an HR action that's going to create a core employee experience based on what has been communicated. A lot of times, it's a matter of strategic communications about the actions that are firmly rooted in employee experience data.”

“Making that connection for employees is important. Sometimes we can acknowledge that we would've taken these actions anyway because they're the right thing to do, but now there's often data that those actions were also the ones that mattered to our people.”

Predictions for 2023: To Future-Proof Their Organizations, Leaders Will Invest More Resources to Listen and Connect With Their People

Emily Killham, Director of Research and Insights: “Here's the thing about the organizations that are going to succeed the most. Everyone has the same macroeconomic conditions they're facing. Your competitors are going to have very similar ones. Your competitors are going to have some of those same economic levers that they can pull, but your competitive difference is going to be your people. The more you can connect with where your people are at and the more you can involve them in the changes you need to make, the more future-proofed your organization will be.”

Michael Mian, Ph.D., Principal Consultant: “As the economy potentially slows, the more advanced and future-focused organizations will invest in their people. They're going to focus on developing employee capabilities. They're going to listen more. They're going to involve employees in taking collective action on topics that will boost resilience during the downturn. If we've learned anything from the crises in 2007 and 2020, it's that the organizations that were prepared and that were more in tune with the sentiments and feelings of their employees developed a more committed, more engaged workforce that enabled them to take advantage of the economy when it rebounded.”

Predictions for 2023: Organizations Will Upgrade Their Internal Analytics Capabilities

David Weisser, Principal Consultant: I think the most resilient organizations will upgrade their internal analytics capability. They are listening more. There's a lot more channels. The data are far more varied. There's a lot more targets. There's a lot more populations. The organizations that can process those data and actually connect it to things like leadership KPIs, promotion advancement decisions, and so on will be the ones that are future-proofed against whatever comes down the pike.”

“We've done a lot of research this year. We were looking at rental car agencies for a while, for example. During the Great Resignation, there was one agency that had a 2% turnover rate and another one that had a 20% turnover rate. Their stores are right next to each other in the airport. They're literally clones of each other. So why is one more resilient than the other? It has to be something internal to the organization. The organizations that can process that information effectively means that they are communicating most effectively, and that's what’s going to make them as resilient as possible.”

Predictions for 2023: The Rise of the Four-Day Workweek

Bradley Wilson, Director of Consulting Excellence:  “I'm working with one organization that's using the four-day workweek. It forces people to be critical about what they say yes to. And I think that's one of the problems. Many of us are so quick to say yes. And that's great, but we have to be aware of the fact that everything that we say yes to comes with a certain opportunity cost. Even this would be revolutionary for some employees, to say, ‘You are limited to 40 hours. You are not allowed to work beyond 40 hours.’

“There was an organization I worked with a few years ago, and they shared this story where a CEO went to a breakfast meeting. They had nine different kinds of muffins. The CEO looked at these nine muffins and joked about how they had so many muffins, yet no blueberry muffins. That was interpreted to mean the CEO needs blueberry muffins. For two years, they had blueberry muffins at every meeting. And someone brought it up with the CEO, and the CEO said, ‘I don't even like blueberry muffins. What are you guys talking about?’”

“What the CEO said was meant as a joke, but his people interpreted it as an urgent organizational need for blueberry muffins. I think there are too many blueberry muffins that exist in organizational culture, where we continue to do things because we think we have to. I think the four-day workweek is a tool that can be used to make us review our priorities. It’s a new norm that can motivate people to work smarter, not harder. I'm less concerned about the mechanics of it, but I'm very optimistic in terms of the conversations that would happen in those organizations where its implementation is discussed.”

Perceptyx Can Help Your Organization & Your People Thrive in 2023

An experienced partner like Perceptyx can help you extract the maximum value from your listening strategy and your people data, and build a more resilient organization where all employees can thrive. To learn more, schedule a meeting with a member of our team.

To watch the rest of our consultant roundtable, click here.

Subscribe to our blog

Opt-in for our weekly recap and never miss a post.

Getting started is easy

Advance from data to insights to focused action