What will inclusion in the workplace look like in 2023?

Group of employees having fun in an office, inclusion, diversity

Article by Ritu Mohanka, Managing Director of EMEA, Syndio

2022 was a year of recovery and rebuild post-pandemic. The workplace was rediscovering its groove and navigating what the new ‘normal’ would be.

But 2022 was not without its hardships. The second half of the year has seen many Britons struggling with the cost of living crisis, the effects of the recession and unprecedented levels of national strike action. This has been a tough year for many and we can expect to see the impact of these struggles follow us into 2023.

However, it is not all doom and gloom – hardships can foster essential change.

Workers continue to make their voices heard

This year we have seen unparalleled levels of strike action take place across the UK. Nurses, rail workers, teachers and postal workers are just some of the professionals taking tangible action against the working conditions, standards and fair pay in their respective industries. 2023 is not going to see these workers back down. Pay issues are exacerbated by the ongoing cost of living crisis and workers need to see change now more than ever.

Companies who fail to proactively address pay issues are very much at risk of seeing workers take matters into their own hands on a public scale, causing major damage to public and employee trust.

Organisations will need to ensure that they are paying their employees an equitable wage – no more, no less – for the work they do. This is the smartest course of action in a downturn, too – championing equity and providing a fair wage to all is the most powerful and cost effective thing that organisations can do.

Tik Tok – it’s time to take Gen Z seriously

This year saw the emergence of digital movements such as ‘Work Your Wage’ and ‘Quiet Quitting’ which encouraged those who might be financially or emotionally unfulfilled at work to do no more than the work that they are paid for. These movements were established by Gen Z – a generation that is not afraid to stand up to unfair or exploitative situations. They are revolutionarily rejecting what generations before them had deemed acceptable.

Employees who want answers are taking matters into their own hands. Ignoring or avoiding pay and other workplace equity issues will snowball into big (and expensive) problems down the road, in the form of employee complaints, discrimination lawsuits, and damaged brand reputation.

In 2023 we can expect to see Gen Z continuing to be vocal about workplace issues. This is a generation who will be increasingly entering the workplace in the next year and so their influence on workplace culture will be significant.

Older leadership will need to listen and respond to their younger employees if they are to retain and attract top talent.

High transparency organisations win out

In 2023, we will see the emergence of ultra-transparent organisations. These companies will be willing and open to sharing information proactively around diversity, recruitment and pay gaps, and bringing employees into the conversation about what needs to keep being worked on.

With consistency this approach will garner an excellent reputation for companies who want to be pioneers for positive industry change.

Of course, this radical approach will not suit all, but for others it can improve team spirit, recruitment and retention, which are all particularly valuable in an economic downturn.

The definition of diversity is expanding

We can expect organisations in 2023 to increasingly track workplace equity among a wider set of identity groups outside of gender and race/ethnicity, including sexual orientation, age and disability.

Expanding the definition of diversity will be good for businesses and employees. Companies will reconsider current hiring practices or they may revamp their inclusion plans to include more minority groups. This in turn will create more opportunities for minority groups, spark new conversations for inclusion in the workplace and shape culturally diverse workforces.

DE&I becomes less siloed

There is still a significant proportion of businesses where one person looks after the entire DE&I function, but in 2023 we may see a shift to DE&I having a more cross-functional, as well as more important, role in the business. Figures from the most recent UK census show that population diversity is changing quicker than targets can keep up with, and this will prove challenging for DE&I functions if they are hemmed in.

At the same time, we’re seeing a growing partnership between DE&I and organisations’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices, with a number bringing inclusion into that remit as the ‘S’ in the acronym. In practice, this could mean working with external partners on their own diversity initiatives or sharing resources; discussions with internal communications teams on creating a better sense of belonging; and working with Reward on more euitable pay practices. DE&I function sizes may grow, but equally likely is that there will be more champions around the business who feed into the wider strategic goals.

About the author

Ritu MohankaRitu Mohanka is Syndio’s Managing Director and Head of its EMEA business. Ritu is passionate about making workplaces more diverse, inclusive and fair. Mohanka joins Syndio with over 20 years’ experience in senior leadership roles with HR and talent-focused businesses, including leading business development and strategic growth efforts in EMEA at Glint (now LinkedIn). Prior to Glint, Mohanka worked at Kenexa/IBM Smarter Workforce to drive rapid revenue growth across the EMEA region. At both of these leading Talent and Employee Engagement players, Mohanka was instrumental in driving rapid growth across EMEA, deepening existing markets and expanding into new markets. Mohanka is the winner of multiple awards and has been recognised on the EMpower Top 100 Ethnic Minority Senior Executive lists on several occasions.

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