Continuing the DEI Journey: 2022 Year in Review

As 2022 comes to a close let’s look at the State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I), including progress made, obstacles overcome, and opportunities that are ripe for the picking in the upcoming year and beyond. 

Pulse Check . . . 

There’s no doubt that the George Floyd tragedy in 2020, fueled a global recognition of stubborn societal disparities on multiple fronts, including prodding business leaders and organizational leadership to focus on disparities in the workplace. It’s been a couple of years since that incident spurred what might be described as “long overdue” accountability—but the momentum remains strong and it’s important to keep pushing forward on all fronts. Let’s take a quick look at where things stand today.  

Gender: On the gender front, progress is still being made albeit at a slower pace, according to some measures. For instance, The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2022 concluded that, at the current rate of progress, it would take 132 years to reach gender parity globally, demonstrating the rough road ahead. Similarly, the European Union (EU) Gender Equality Index for 2022 only saw a 0.6 increase compared to 2021—resulting in an average score of 68.6 on a scale of one to 100. While that may look promising to some, we have to consider the fact that the new number only represents a 5.5 percent increase over 2010 scores. 

In the U.S. things look much the same with America ranking 38th globally on the SDG Gender Index for 2022. The index measures the status of women and girls on a number of factors, including in the workplace, school, and access to healthcare. It should be noted that a lot of the data cited in these reports was culled during the Covid Pandemic which may have negatively impacted or stalled progress—since women were affected more by the pandemic than men by some estimations—accurate estimations. 

Age: Ageism is more difficult to measure on a global scale, however older workers continue to face real and perceived hardship on the work front. For instance, in the U.S., people 55 and older still represent the largest portion of the workforce (23%), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, a 2018 study by AARP found one-third of employees older than 55 believed their jobs were insecure based solely on their age. 

.As of 2020, workers 50 and older made up over a third of the U.S. workforce, and one in four U.S. workers is expected to be 55 or older by 2030. These gains may seem promising, but the participation by aging workers declines once they reach their late sixties. 

A 2020 snapshot of the labor force participation rate for people in the 55 to 64 age range found a 65 percent participation rate within the demo, whilst also illustrating a significant decrease from 65 percent (65%) to a dismal 27 percent (27%)  for workers 65-74, not accounting for retirements. With a significant number of older workers struggling with inflation and other costs (i.e., healthcare), more people globally are working beyond the traditional retirement ages of early to mid-sixties presenting a generational dilemma for younger workers seeking mid-level and senior opportunities.   

Race: The racial/ethnic dynamic in the U.S. and elsewhere also continues to show signs of sustained progress, which is yet another potential bright spot. Representation matters and people have an expectation that the companies and organizations they work for will be diverse and inclusive, presenting opportunities equitably among similarly qualified candidates regardless of factors like race or ethnicity. Pay equity has improved—although there’s no denying there’s still a significant gap. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Black men earn 75.8% and Hispanic men earn 75.4% of what white men earn, comparing full-time workers. Similarly, SHRM data showed executive-level Black men earn 97 cents for every $1 that their white counterparts earn, with the same qualifications. (SHRM). Further, a McKinsey & Company study showed White males held 35 percent of entry-level roles and 62 percent of C-Suite positions, while non-White men held 17 percent of entry levels and 13 percent of C-Suite positions. 

Orientation/Gender Identity: When it comes to progress made in terms of orientation the picture is somewhat bright, according to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The foundation, which advocates for the LGBT+ community globally, launched its Corporate Equality Index (CEI) in 2002 to benchmark and track progress. The 20th edition of the CEI found significant strides for LGBTQIA+ people in the workplace—with increased support for trans rights, general protections from discrimination, and commitment to things like marriage equality and even support for adoption.  The HRCF’s report found:

  • Nearly 67 percent (67%) of Fortune 500 companies are offering transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits.
  • 98 percent (98%) of CEI Study respondents provided documented proof that they include CEI participants they contain “gender identity” in their employment nondiscrimination policy.
  • 77 percent (77%) of CEI participants (975 of 1,271 respondents) documented that they provide inclusive benefits for same- and different-sex spouses and partners

While corporations and nonprofit organizations may be achieving progress on this front, challenges for this community abound in several areas. Read the 2022 CEI report here

Neurodiversity: As we’ve mentioned in a recent blog, neurodiversity is catching fire in HR and among DEI professionals. Expect to hear a lot more about this topic in 2023 and beyond. Given the demand for talent, driven by multiple factors, companies and others are rethinking their recruiting and hiring standards to allow for a more inclusive people ecosystem that accommodates those who may not fit into the “ideal” or stereotypical profile of a preferred candidate. These individuals may have diagnosed or undiagnosed neurological syndromes that affect the way they relate to a traditional team structure or social dynamic. Read our blog on Neurodiversity here. 

The Year Ahead

With the Covid pandemic and 2022 mainly behind us, we can look to the New Year with optimism.