Top Ten Work Trends Quarterly Updates

A diverse group of SIOP members are serving as Trend Champions for the people-related work trends that SIOP members collaboratively predicted to be the most impactful in 2022. Each Trend Champion has expertise in and professional passion for their trend subject. SIOP appreciates their service to the profession in providing quarterly updates on their chosen topics.

Find the full list of topics and links to the other Top 10 Work Trends here

Trend #2: Ensuring Inclusive Environments and Cultures


2022 2nd Quarter Update

The second quarter of 2022 has brought fascinating challenges to long-established maxims in diversity and inclusion at work. New perspectives on how biases impact organizational cultures and individuals helped advance understanding of the best ways to address these biases.   

A recent Harvard Business Review article by Oriane Georgeac and Aneeta Rattan challenged one of the most prominent approaches in diversity work – the business case. Organizational decision makers and some of the public often demand, and diversity and inclusion advocates tend to provide, the business case for diversity. But while the data on the positive impact of diversity in the workplace can be impressive, this instrumental framing of diversity may perpetuate, rather than ameliorate, the bias it attempts to address. 

While 80% of organizations use the business case to justify the importance of diversity, it has the potential to reduce the potential attractiveness of the organization to applicants from underrepresented backgrounds and increase their concerns about belonging within the organization. The "fairness" case - a non-instrumental framing of diversity - is used by 5% of organizations. It is less harmful to potential applicant impressions than the business case. However, the best “case” for diversity, according to new research reported by Oriane Georgeac and Aneeta Rattan, might be no case at all. People felt most positive about a prospective employer when diversity was simply a value, without any explanation. Why should organizations justify their commitment to diversity? If there is no need to justify the presence of some humans in the workplace beyond their expertise, there should not be a need to justify the presence of other humans. The business case for diversity backfires because this instrumental framing presents employees from marginalized groups as a means to an end, rather than as human beings. 

The instrumental approach to diversity may perpetuate the prejudice among those in power. Moreover, when an instrumental – and ultimately, dehumanizing – perspective on the value of marginalized employees is both perpetuated externally and internalized, it is likely to create pressure to overperform and overdeliver among employees from underrepresented groups. Bias may force these workers to continuously “justify” their value by working twice as hard as the others. In this Fast Company article, I discuss the “the overwork tax on the marginalized” and suggest how stigmatized employees, managers and employers, as well as thought leaders, can combat the systemic impact of the “must work harder than others” mentality. 

Workplace inequality problems are often addressed by various antibias interventions, such as implicit bias training. However, as Toni Schmader, Tara Dennehy, and Andrew Baron demonstrate in the new Perspectives on Psychological Science article, such interventions are often based on an incomplete understanding of the nature of bias. This results in interventions that are not effective. The visual typology of bias provided by the authors highlights cognitive, motivational, and situational variables affecting the expression of biases and suggests more tailored interventions to address specific types and expressions of bias. Effective interventions require addressing the different forms of individual-level expressions of bias. They also require systemic interventions that address the environment in which individuals operate and make decisions. 

One example of systems that often fail individuals from marginalized groups is talent management systems in the workplace. My recent Harvard Business Review article identifies typical access and success barriers faced by underrepresented, marginalized, and intersectionally marginalized individuals, and outlines a systemic approach to addressing these barriers. Welcoming all talent calls for creating systems that include the most marginalized and the most vulnerable – the “canaries in the coal mine”-  with the active participation of those marginalized. I suggest that embedding the principles of participation, focusing on outcomes, flexibility, organizational justice, transparency, and the use of valid tools in decision-making across organizational systems will help the inclusion of the most marginalized and support better work for all employees.  

As the second quarter of 2022 ends with the continued Great Resignation along with tech lay-offs, many are watching the economic trends and wondering about the future of all aspects of work – diversity and inclusion among them. But if we learned anything from the pandemic and the recent advancements in understanding the psychology of inclusion, the work of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging should not be an add-on subject to trends and fads – it should be at the core of organizations, as a reflection of our humanity. The work of embedding inclusion within organizational systems will likely be a fascinating space to watch.

 


2022 1st Quarter Update

Quarter 1 of 2022 was characterized by powerful conversations about the future of work, and the divide between managers’ and employees’ views on that future – including the future of diversity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace. One major undercurrent in that conversation is that pre-pandemic ways of working have been anything but inclusive. 

One illustration of that lack of inclusivity is the powerful new book showcasing the experience of women of color in traditional corporate cultures, “The First, the Few, the Only.” This book is filled with stories of women conventionally successful – and yet isolated and vigilantly monitoring their environments for the signs of conditional belonging. Another example is the stories of class migrants or first-generation professionals. 

While most people from underrepresented, marginalized, or overlooked groups agree that the “past of work” was not working, the conversation about building better, more inclusive practices is ongoing. 

One of the questions – or rather, misunderstandings - is WHEN to create these inclusive practices. Specifically, many start-up founders make the mistake of not building inclusion into organizational systems right away.  

The answer to “when” to start building diversity and inclusion into organizational cultures is “immediately” – on the earliest planning stages of a start-up. Immediately, as leaders of existing organizations are planning the post-pandemic future of work. Immediately, as consultants help envision organizational change. 

Another important question is HOW to create more inclusive organizations and where the effort should focus. I suggest designing the post-pandemic inclusive environments and cultures from the margin, radically, and systemically. If organizational systems and processes are designed to include the most marginalized, these systems support the wellbeing of all

As foundations of how the world works are redesigned for more diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, Industrial and Organizational Psychology is meeting the challenge of ensuring that our tools and methods are valid – and help eliminate, not perpetuate biases. One major contribution to this work is the deepened understanding of how job analysis, the foundation of accurate and fair human resource systems, can be improved and used to detect workplace inequities. 

I expect that over the next few months, employers and employees will continue asking hard questions about the meaning of inclusion in the workplace. The Great Resignation continues to drive the renegotiation of how we work, and for many, this means the desire to work more inclusively. The HOW of systemic inclusion is the space to watch.  

 

Champion: Ludmila N. Praslova, PhD

Ludmila N. Praslova, PhD 

Ludmila N. Praslova, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP uses her extensive experience with global, cultural, demographic, and ability diversity to help create inclusive and equitable workplaces. She is a Professor of Psychology and the founding Director of Graduate Programs in Industrial-Organizational Psychology at Vanguard University of Southern California. Prior to her academic career, she built inclusive cultures in global organizations. Her current consulting is focused on supporting organizations in creating systemic inclusion informed by an understanding of neurodiversity. She is the editor of the upcoming special issue of the Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research on Disability inclusion in the workplace: From “accommodation” to inclusive organizational design