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The “DEI is dead” conversation & why the DEI industry is actually thriving

In recent years, discussions surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have gained unprecedented traction across various industries. Critics, however, have questioned the sustainability of the DEI industry, asserting that it might be a passing trend. Contrary to these claims, the DEI industry is not only alive but thriving. I am exploring the reasons behind the enduring relevance and growth of the DEI movement.

  1. Organizational Imperative:Organizations across the world are increasingly recognizing the social and business cases for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Diverse and inclusive workplaces are not just ethical imperatives; they also contribute to improved innovation, employee satisfaction, and overall organizational success. As organizations compete for talent and global markets become more interconnected, the demand for DEI initiatives remains high. If you fail to consider DEI, at worst you will fail, or at best you will never live up to your potential or fully meet the needs of your employees and target market.
  2. Regulatory Compliance:Governments and regulatory bodies continue to implement stricter measures to ensure equal opportunities and fair equitable treatment in the workplace. Organizations are compelled to comply with these regulations, leading to the continuous need for DEI professionals who can guide them through the complex landscape of diversity and inclusion compliance. An example of this is the Government of Canada, which requires all public servants to adopt an intersectional GBA Plus lens in all their policies, programs, as well as in all decision-making (as per the Gender Budgeting Act). The Government of Canada has since then also included DEI and GBA Plus requirements in funding applications (from research at post-secondary institutions, to nonprofit grant programs, to international development projects, etc), in infrastructure projects (in everything from highway projects, to energy transportation like pipelines, to arctic icebreaker ships, etc.). Regulatory compliance is difficult and onerous to change and is likely to remain despite changes in government and political leadership.
  3. Consumer Expectations:Consumers are becoming increasingly more socially conscious, and they expect the companies they support to share their values. Organizations that champion DEI not only enhance their brand reputation but also attract a broader customer base more effectively. As consumers continue to prioritize socially responsible businesses, the DEI industry becomes indispensable. Also, in order for organizations to effectively reach their target market, DEI is critical to understand at a deeper level the challenges and experiences of their target market, in order to more effectively reach them and iterate products to meet their unique needs.
  4. Evolving Social Landscape:Society is continually evolving, and with it, the understanding of DEI evolves rapidly as well. Complex issues such as intersectional cross-cultural communication, and social justice demand ongoing attention and adaptation. The DEI industry plays a crucial role in navigating these complexities and ensuring that organizations stay aligned with the ever-changing social landscape. We have seen in recent months how international conflicts directly impact our cultures at work, and DEI brings a critical human-centered empathetic approach to navigate these complexities successfully.
  5. Continued Globalization:Many organizations operate on a global scale, and even if some don’t, they are still required to interact with diverse markets, populations, and their diverse internal workforce. Successful navigation of this landscape requires a deep understanding of cultural nuances and an inclusive approach. The DEI industry provides organizations with tools and expertise needed to create inclusive environments that resonate with diverse audiences worldwide.The Canadian population will likely reach 47.7 million by 2024 and 24 million people will be new immigrants/new Canadians or first generation children of immigrants (52.4% of the population). This means that 1 in 4 Canadians will be born in Asia or Africa, and 2 in 5 Canadians will be part of a racialized group. Currently, an estimated 1 million people in Canada are 2SLGBTQIA+, representing 4% of the population, and this is expected to triple by 2041 to 12%. Over 22% of the Canadian population live with a disability currently, this is expected to increase exponentially alongside the aging population. By 2068, Canadians over 65, will account for 25% of the Canadian population. Diversity exists already and is increasingly inevitable and required to maintain and sustain the country. Diversity influences our lives every day and will grow more complex and integrated in every aspect of our society.
  6. Continuous Learning & Growth:The DEI industry is not static, it thrives on continuous learning and growth. DEI professionals in this field are constantly adapting strategies, incorporating new research findings, and staying on top of emerging trends. This commitment to growth ensures that the DEI industry remains relevant and effective in addressing the evolving challenges of workplace diversity and inclusion.

Contrary to skeptics’ claims, the DEI industry is far from dead. It evolves rapidly and is always changing, so it continues to adapt and look different, however, it remains thriving. As organization’s grapple with the complexities of a rapidly changing world, the need for DEI initiatives has only intensified. The industry’s resilience is a testament to its intrinsic value in fostering fair, equitable, inclusive and thriving workplaces.

As we move forward, it is crucial to recognize the ongoing importance of DEI in shaping a more equitable and inclusive world, and in turn, more effective, equitable and inclusive organizations.

Interested in learning more on how you can advance DEI in your organization? Check out Equality 360 at http://www.equality360.ca to get free trail access to an incredible DEI microlearning platform designed by DEI experts to create real change.