Trending Diversity Inclusion Themes

28th February 2023

In 2023 it seems that topics in the diversity and inclusion space are rarely out of the news, and more commonly come up in conversations with colleagues, family and friends. These conversations are becoming ever-more complex, and can be increasingly polarised too. So, to help you navigate these sometimes tricky subjects we have come up with five diversity and inclusion topics and themes that are on our minds at Marshalls. We offer links to further information and great thinking, which perhaps challenge ‘established’ ideas or offer different approaches – but that can only be a good thing…

1)  How do we talk about equality, diversity and inclusion?

There’s a lot of discussion about the most appropriate terminology and concepts used to frame ‘EDI’, and what this signals in terms of the corporate approach to this agenda. As an increasingly important and ubiquitous topic in corporate culture, we will bring more people to the ‘EDI’ conversation by ensuring that it is discussed using meaningful language and positioned in a way that reflects organisational values, mission, and context. Pathik Pathak’s article is an interesting read here.

2)  The positioning and status of the diversity and inclusion function

Since Black Lives Matter, we have seen more resource allocated to diversity and inclusion across all sectors, increasingly aligned strategically with the Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) agenda. This has attracted some unhelpful and divisive commentary and debate around ‘wokeism’, particularly in the civil service, but in our book a higher level of resourcing is surely a good thing. However, there is evidence of high turnover of D&I Managers and Chief Diversity Officers. Making progress towards an inclusive culture takes time and it’s important to reflect on whether the goals and expectations set for D&I teams are realistic, particularly when these teams are small, or where it’s a one-person show.

3)  Legislation – what could change?

A whole raft of significant changes is now looking more likely to be heading our way, given that the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill has been given final approval by MPs. This means that many EU laws could automatically expire at the end of 2023, with the implication that, unless renewed, core employee protections such as maternity, paternity and family-friendly policies, and equal pay for women and men, could no longer be in place. Organisations are therefore advised to keep an eye on how this progresses, and to consider what it could mean for internal policy.

4)  Freedom of speech vs freedom of identity

‘Toxic’ is a word that is we hear far too often in 2023, to describe polarised diversity or equality-related conversations, frequently conducted on social media. Can freedom of expression and freedom of identity or experience meet harmoniously? What we hope is that constructive and compassionate communication and ‘vigorous civility’ can once again be found. And for those practising allyship perhaps it’s a case of ‘calling in’ winning out over ‘calling out’, wherever possible … as proposed by Loretta J Ross?

5)  Decolonising… everything…

This is a topic that we are heavily involved with, given the breadth of Marshalls Higher and Further Education client sector, where decolonising the curriculum is high on the agenda. But the reach of this subject extends far beyond learning, teaching and pedagogy. Take a look at these articles on decolonising ‘wellness’, decolonising environmental sustainability, and decolonising fashion and textiles to prompt reflection on relevance and implications for your company or organisation.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, or would like to find out how Marshalls can support your inclusive culture journey, please get in touch!

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