If 2021 was all about the Great Resignation, 2022 has been all about Quiet Quitting. While they may sound like polar opposites, they actually do have a lot in common: both movements are about expressing a desire for our workforce to be valued, heard and supported. With that in mind, what do companies need to focus on in 2023 to ensure that they continue to recruit and retain the best talent?
Team IIP is also excited to announce the release of our 2023 whitepaper on the Future of Work Culture for distributed teams — which is now available for download on our website.
Here’s what we’ll cover in today’s episode:
- Why increased commitment to DEI should be a priority for companies in 2023
- The lasting impact of the pandemic on distributed workforces
- How we can learn from how tech companies are making distributed workforces work
- The Gen Z Effect: how DEI can help companies with succession planning for younger talent
- Examples of good practice in DEI for recruitment and retention of top talent
Welcome to the Inclusion in Progress podcast where we give you the ideas, actions and insights to help you build more equity at your workplace and in the world at large. I'm your host, Kay Fabella, international expert on diversity, equity and inclusion, a Filipina American living in Spain and your guide in navigating this DEI journey. Having worked with teams at companies such as Philips, the IMF, Red Hat, PepsiCo and more, I know firsthand that the work of inclusion only works when everyone has a seat at the table. Regardless of your personal entrypoint into this conversation: your race, ethnicity, gender, ability, age, sexual orientation, country of origin, or educational background, we all have a role to play in creating inclusion for all and it starts with us having conversations we need to create the change we wish to see. So let's dive into today's episode.
Hey, again, and welcome back to the show! As we head into December… for me, personally, I always like to look back on the year that was and, if we're thinking about this from IIP’s perspective, if 2021 was all about the great resignation; 2022 - and I'm pretty sure everybody's LinkedIn feeds were lit up with the stuff 2022 - is all about Quiet Quitting. And while the Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting may sound like polar opposites, they actually do have a lot in common. Because from our standpoint, both movements are about expressing a desire for our workforce to be valued, heard and supported. So what do companies need to focus on in 2023 to ensure that they continue to recruit and retain the best talent against the current landscape?
I'm Kay Fabella. I'm a DEI or Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consultant for remote teams. I'm the CEO of Inclusion in Progress, LLC, and your host for the Inclusion in Progress podcast, where you will get research-backed industry insights into the future of work, and practical how-to's for Equity and Inclusion in a distributed digital-first world. You're also guaranteed to get a global perspective as our fully-remote team works with clients across EMEA, APAC, and the Americas.
Now, with that in mind, in the spirit of reflection and looking back on the year that was, we've been through a lot this past year. And as we head into the final stretch of 2022, we wanted to make sure that you had the resources in place to set you up for success in the New Year; or at the very least, offer a wider perspective to help guide you as you're continuing to strategize for your people.
So Team IIP is excited to announce that our 2023 Whitepaper on the Future of Work Culture is officially live! Cue jazz hands!! So if you could see me recording right now, I am actually jazz handing…
But all that aside, I am obviously very excited a lot of work went into this Whitepaper on the Future of Work Culture and it actually has been just over a year since we published our last one. And, of course - understatement - obviously… lots has changed in that time. We are now going on two… almost three years post-pandemic and, in that time, we've watched as companies have navigated various versions of return-to-office, of hybrid (and the mess that that continues to be); and fully distributed workforces.
Now we've supported our own client partners around identifying barriers to Psychological Safety in distributed work, whatever that looked like for them; encouraging buy-in for inclusion and, therefore, psych safety for distributed teams to be able to mitigate any barriers to understanding they might have; as well as guiding teams to create work cultures of resilience and understanding, despite not sharing a physical space together.
So in today's episode, we'll be exploring some of the challenges that companies may face in 2023 and beyond in recruiting and retaining talent, utilizing what we've seen over this past year in this post-pandemic work environment, I say post-pandemic but we’re still technically in it… anyway, you get what I mean! We will also look at the role that DEI or Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will have to play in the year to come.
So, if you aren't already, please be sure to follow us on your favorite podcast app to help us reach even more folks with Inclusion in Progress. And, if you are a longtime listener, as you will have seen, we have now officially hit the milestone of 100 episodes! If you haven't already, please consider leaving us a review. Because every review really helps us reach listeners who would gain value from these conversations, whether it's a current or aspiring workplace DEI leader, an ally who's finding their way to support greater inclusion at work and in the world at large, or a manager who's leading a globally distributed team. And your review directly helps more people who are leading equity and inclusion at work to have access to the discussions that we're having here on the podcast. And, understatement again, we really do need all hands on deck as we head into this New Year and what is sure to be a challenging period ahead.
It's hard to ignore the pandemic's impact on the increase of distributed workplaces. Whether companies chose to institute, whether it was, hybrid or fully-remote work. But while remote-first workplaces, or virtual-first workplaces, have offered many benefits for, of course, both employers and employees; they've also brought challenges to team's ability to connect, to collaborate, and, of course, their own Psychological Safety with everything that's been happening in the world. So as a company this year, our team has primarily been working with those in the tech industry, the likes of Red Hat, Instagram, Jamf, Lisrak, and many others. So we've heard a lot of the challenges that organizations are having around navigating the strange “Next Normal”, with teams more spread out than ever before. And we say spread out: physically, emotionally, psychologically… everybody has been through the wringer. And unifying that set of experiences and designing solutions around it has been incredibly challenging and, sometimes, overwhelming.
And Team IIP has watched the strain on many leaders who we've come to call, not just client partners, but also colleagues and friends. As they've shared how they've spent the last two and a half years under enormous pressure. They've been guiding their teams and their organizations through uncertainty amidst unprecedented economic challenges while also trying to manage their own health and well-being in many cases. And we talk about this a lot more in our Whitepaper, but we really think that the conversations that we have around Psychological Safety in 2023 and beyond really need to remember that the people leading Psychological Safety in organizations should also benefit from it. But, that being said, the tech industry in particular - we think - has the capacity and the responsibility to shape our future workplaces and influence global change; considering that many of them actually helped shape this post-pandemic distributed work environment that we have seen evolve in the first place.
Now, as we're heading into 2023 (even though for some of us, our brains are still in March 2020 – but that's beside the point!)... organizations like those in the tech industry have a new challenge. We've got an uncertain economy. We've got an uncertain labor market. We've got rising cost of living and inflation. And so, companies that still have to continue to support people are now trying to set a standard for flexible work that balances the business priorities and outcomes that they still need to continue keeping top of mind with the expectations of employees post-pandemic that now want and desire flexible work. Which is no easy feat, right? Nobody that we know has got this fully figured out.
So in today's episode, what we’re going to try and do is dive into some of the ways that companies, particularly those we've worked with in the tech space, can engage top talent on distributed teams; and our hope is that you can take for record some of these lessons into your own organization as you're planning for 2023.
So the reality is, talent now has more options than before the pandemic. And that's the reason why we've seen movements like the Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting. Employees have figured out that not only can they be productive for companies, but they can actually have a life outside of it. And so, as organizations are navigating remote and hybrid workforces, employees - particularly those working in tech - are actually in higher demand than ever before. Because, as we saw with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, software and technology, cybersecurity, all of these things became business-critical for all industries around the world. But that pandemic-fueled shift in how tech and non-tech organizations alike are operating is actually causing a major talent and skills shortage in the job market.
So, obviously, with these different workplace changes and employees realizing what their priorities are outside of work and how they want to balance it and integrate it with their lives, we're also seeing this take its toll on workers in the tech industry in particular, and leading to talent seeking greener pastures elsewhere. And one of the surveys that we cite in the Whitepaper is from Gartner. It was of more than 18,000 employees globally. In that survey, only 29% of tech workers who were surveyed had a high intent to stay with their current employer. And, if we looked at it globally, that number is actually much lower in Asia (19%), Australia and New Zealand (24%), and Latin America (27%). And even in Europe, the best performing region in that survey, only four in 10 IT or tech workers - so 39% - have high intent to stay at their current employers. That same Gartner survey also found that IT workers are more inclined to quit their jobs than employees in other functions, with a 10% lower intent to stay, then non-IT or non-tech employees, which is the lowest out of all corporate functions. And, I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure we need tech to keep this world running right now!
So that competition for high-skilled talent, specifically for employers in the tech industry like those we work with, it means that people must work harder today to retain their highest potential employees and try to address turnover if they're looking to not just fill their own succession pipelines, but keep their best ideas on their team during a challenging time. But we also know the reason why competition is so high for high-skilled talent is because in this post-pandemic world where flexible work is now something that companies are almost obligated to offer their employees. tech firms aren't the only companies offering that anymore. So, of course, there's more competition to attract and keep top talent.
Which is why our first recommendation is: if companies mean to engage and retain their top people on their distributed teams, they really do need to double down on DEI or Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, or work culture, or well-being initiatives in 2023; rather than diverting attention away from it as we move into recessive period.
So we have heard some version of this on the podcast before. But this so-called “Business Case” regarding whether or not diversity or inclusion initiatives are worth investing in for companies is truly getting harder and harder to ignore, especially when you consider this:
A 2021 study analyzed the correlation between S&P 500 board members diversity and their company performance, both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, that study found a 9% point increase in the likelihood of positive year-over-year revenue growth in 2020, which was an increase in company revenue for the more diverse companies compared to the ones who had less diversity on their boards. Now, while all 500 companies experienced a lower revenue due to the pandemic, the year-over-year revenue grew overall by $58 billion for the companies with more diverse representation on their boards, versus a $283 billion drop for the less diverse boards. Leading this report to conclude that boards with “multidimensional diversity experienced less downside, and even revenue growth, throughout the pandemic.”
Thankfully, many tech leaders, including many of our partners, recognize the need to invest in this area as it demonstrates their ability to follow through on very public commitments that we saw corporate organizations make to DEI following George Floyd's murder and the resulting resurgence of the global anti-racism movement in June 2020.
So since our last Whitepaper was published in December 2021, we've witnessed tech companies investing in things like strengthening their commitment to DEI through investment and social impact initiatives, company-wide DEI programming, inclusive leadership training for those at the VP level and above, and reaching out to support their internal teams with subject matter experts on business critical DEI topics. We've also seen folks providing greater flexibility to their employees to work where, when, and how they choose by setting impact-driven outcomes instead of time-driven ones for managers and teams. We've also witnessed tech companies investing in creating opportunities for career advancement and continued learning and development to upskill and retain tech workers, particularly underrepresented professionals, and increasing access to well-being initiatives and mental health resources to mitigate burnout for tech teams.
This past year, we supported one of our client partners in tech with piloting and relaunching an enterprise-wide sponsorship program for employees from historically excluded groups to connect with senior leaders, in order to build a more diverse succession pipeline and further demonstrate their ongoing commitment to DEI for both current and future talent. Like many tech companies, our client identified that their women and BIPOC, specifically Black, Indigenous and People of Color professionals, were underrepresented in leadership positions and more likely to leave due to systemic bias and non-inclusive behaviors that they experienced at work. So they committed internal resources, achieved buy-in from executive stakeholders, and partnered with providers like our Inclusion in Progress team to help bridge that gap.
With the demographic shifts of future talent, particularly with more Gen Z professionals hailing from a more racially, ethnically, and gender diverse group across the globe than previous generations, tech organizations and companies overall have to continue to invest in diversity and inclusion initiatives if they hope to remain employers of choice in 2023 and beyond.
And if you're struggling with strategizing for inclusion and equity for your teams and for your company in 2023, particularly when it comes to your distributed workforce strategies, our team at Inclusion in Progress can help! As a global DEI consultancy that specializes in supporting distributed teams, whether remote, hybrid or somewhere in between, with becoming a more inclusive workforce and a more psychologically safe space to work; we partner with forward-thinking people leaders through both data-driven and qualitative flexible work strategies to help retain your best and brightest, all while strategizing for business outcomes and cost savings for your organization. We've already opened up our calendar for Q2, that's April onward in 2023. So if you'd like to learn how we could support you in the new year, please book a free consultation call with us by emailing us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, we will also be seeing younger employees' expectations continue to drive culture change in organizations. Now Gen Z… actually, if you want to look at the influence that they'll continue to have, look no further than the Quiet Quitting movement they spearheaded in March of this year. This is a group that is unafraid to make sure their voices are heard when they're dissatisfied about their employers lack of commitment to things like social impact or social justice, to workplace diversity and well-being. Professionals from Gen Z are also keen on having access to pathways for professional advancement. And they will choose whether or not to stay at a current employer based on whether or not they see representation of women and people of color in leadership roles. According to the Pew Research Center, Gen Z continues to hold high expectations of their employers for DEI initiatives beyond simply defining racial or ethnic identity; including, but not limited to LGBTQIA+ rights, neurodiversity, accessibility, native language, immigration status, and much more. Tech companies like the ones that we've worked with have recognized that a diverse workforce by gender, race, age and other critical social factors is good for business.
While there is no lack of research, as we’ve said before, to demonstrate that diverse teams perform better and are more innovative, especially when we are creating environments of Psychological Safety where they can thrive; tech organizations’ ability to succeed hinges on this access to top talent as we enter a global recessive period. The tech industry, in particular, and all the organizations that we will see looking to thrive and continue to grow during this challenging period should aim to be as representative of the world they already inhabit as possible, if you wish to maintain your competitive edge. Iin 2023, companies have an opportunity to not only meet the demands of their diversifying client-base, stakeholders and employees, but also to take a stand in driving more equitable outcomes for our workplaces and our world at large. So whether you are an organization working in the tech space or otherwise, if you want to continue to remain effective at retaining your top performers, you will have to actively demonstrate that you trust your employees to get their jobs done, that you will support them in creating Psychological Safety no matter what, no matter where they come from, or where they choose to work.
So there you have it: how do companies engage top talent on distributed teams in 2023, based on trends that we've observed from working with our client partners in tech over the last two and a half years. And while every organization, we genuinely believe, is doing the best they can with what they have to adapt to the changes in our structures and expectations of work; at Inclusion in Progress, we do see company culture evolving, and taking a necessary step forward in 2023, and beyond.
So, if you want someone to help you build an inclusive distributed workforce that engages your top talent, you can head to our website to learn more about our services, and especially to download our latest 2023 Whitepaper on the Future of Work Culture: How to Make Distributed Work Equitable and Inclusive.
As a global DEI consultancy that specializes in inclusive distributed work, we share insights from working with companies across EMEA, APAC and the Americas, so you can navigate the minefield of how to apply your inclusion strategy in a way that untaps the full potential of your distributed workforce next year, and achieve your business outcomes.
You can head to the link in the show notes or go to inclusioninprogress.com/learn to download your copy of our 2023 Whitepaper. And if you'd like to learn how we can support you with creating inclusive distributed work strategies in 2023, you can email us directly at email@example.com to book a no pressure consultation call with our team.
So as always, we thank you so much for listening. We thank you for continuing to share these episodes with others, especially those who are leading equity and inclusion at work during this challenging time. And we will see you on the next episode of Inclusion in Progress!