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This Is What Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Efforts Will Look Like in 2021

2020 was a big year for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts, but—now more than ever—it’s obvious that there’s always more work to be done.

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2020 was a big year for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts, but—now more than ever—it’s obvious that there’s always more work to be done. It’s not enough to make a public statement supporting a cause like the Black Lives Matter movement or publicly reaffirming your commitment to doing anti-racist work. Instead, these commitments require action—and accountability—which is why we’re going to see an increased push for more DEI efforts in 2021 in the following ways.

1. Increased Focus on Team Diversity

In 2021, especially for entrepreneurs, we’re going to see a renewed focus on cultivating team diversity. This doesn’t just mean hiring diverse team members—although research shows that diverse teams are more innovative and successful—but also amplifying the role of the team in marketing.

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This is going to be coupled with an increased effort in marketing teams—and businesses as a whole—versus the individual. Gone are the days of entrepreneurs leaning into a self-focused, “look at me” mentality. Now is the time to show off your team, show off your company and communicate the power of diversity through every facet of your business’ marketing and communication efforts.

2. Renewed Effort Toward Personal Anti-Racism Work

Now that many people have made a strong commitment to what many call “doing the work,” 2021 will see more people—especially leaders—put those words into practice. We’re going to see a shift away from generic, largely symbolic gestures that are “ticking the right boxes” with regard to diversity. Instead, more people are going to prioritize unpacking their own identities, what they’ve learned about diversity and racism, where they’re holding bias and how to unpack that as a leader and replace those biases.

Especially after the events that are currently unfolding in the United States, more people will begin to take anti-racism work seriously on a personal level—not just an institutional one—as we begin to develop new mindsets and new approaches to leadership that will help us craft a better future for everyone.

3. Data Will Play a Larger Role in DEI Efforts

 We’ve all witnessed a frustrating amount of lip service when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. In 2021, however, hollow efforts are going to be just that: empty.

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Instead, entrepreneurs and business owners should begin to back up their commitment to diversity by ensuring that their audiences, communities and customers are actually diverse. Data-driven DEI efforts will allow business leaders to learn more about the diversity (or lack thereof) in their audiences, the truth about who they’re reaching and whether or not what they say about their commitment to diversity is actually happening on the client side.

 This heavier emphasis on data—combined with the increased emphasis on personal anti-racist work—will translate into more concrete diversity initiatives that will create significant and lasting change based on facts, not feelings.

4. People Are Going to Continue to Be More Vocal About Where They—and Their Companies—Stand on Social Issues

 In the past, it was seen as taboo for companies to “take a stand” on social and/or political issues. These days, however, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the opposite is now true. People want to do business with those who share their values, which is why we’re going to see entrepreneurs, leaders and businesses continue to espouse those views publicly—and those views are going to continue to show up in marketing, in business decisions and more.

5. Greater Emphasis on Social Impact

 The world is changing, and businesses—especially entrepreneurs—are changing with it. People are no longer focusing solely on how their values impact their own lives and decisions, which is why we’re going to see greater emphasis on social impact business models in the future.

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Much like Toms Shoes, which famously gives away a pair of shoes for every pair sold, we’re going to see more businesses founded with social impact initiatives embedded into their business model from the beginning—not just once they’re successful. This emphasis on social impact is going to continue to shift to a forethought of business and entrepreneurial decisions, which will allow people to build businesses and make decisions guided by their values now, rather than haphazardly adapting to their values later.

Trudi Lebrón, CEO of Scriptflipt, is a business, leadership and DEI coach and social impact strategist who teaches entrepreneurs and leaders how to build inclusive, equitable, successful businesses while working towards anti-racism. She is also the host of Business Remixed and runs a membership program, the Equity-Centered Coaching Collective, a guided-learning community for coaches and leaders who want to start applying their commitment to equity in their business and life on a daily basis. Connect with her on Instagram @trudilebron.

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