Key trends for diversity and inclusion in 2018


As 2017 draws to a close, I wanted to reflect on key diversity and inclusion trends this year. I also wanted to look ahead at what trends I predict for 2018 in the diversity and inclusion space.


Let’s take a look at some of the key trends in 2017:

#MeToo and Harvey Weinstein

 The hashtag #MeToo went viral following the multiple sexual harassment accusations came out about Hollywood big cheese, Harvey Weinstein.

Actress Alyssa Milano started the trend by encouraging others to spread the word and highlight the magnitude of the issue:

“If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”


Alyssa Milano #Metoo

Alyssa Milano #Metoo tweet


The hashtag has now been used hundreds of thousands of times by women across the world, and it’s clear that this is not just a moment, but a movement.

It reminds me of the Silicon Valley Elephant in the Valley survey. Some brave women spoke out about the unacceptable behaviour they had experienced in the tech industry, and it started a snowball movement – pushing tech firms into the limelight.

For the first time in 2017, we started working with large global tech firms not just because they saw the business benefits of D&I done properly, but for reputation management reasons.

For us, 2017 has seen a shift from organisation’s launching D&I efforts because it’s a ‘nice thing to do’, towards something they must do to stay afloat in a competitive marketplace and maintain their valuable reputations.


Increased understanding of inclusion

We’ve been around for longer than most D&I consultants, 12 years to be precise. As understanding of D&I has increased over the years, many people still don’t understand the need to look at inclusion more broadly rather than just ticking boxes and meeting diversity quotas.

After all, if you tick your diversity quotas but your internal culture is not inclusive, you won’t retain these employees – they’ll leave!

This is why I emphasise the importance of inclusive leadership training, and cascading this culture throughout your organisation, as this enables diversity and much more.

I get so excited when we start working with new clients who have an internal “Inclusion” team rather than “Diversity and Inclusion” – because this means they get it. Inclusion is key to diversity!

We predict in 2018 we will see more large organisations rename their D&I teams “Inclusion” teams, as understanding broadens of the importance of this overarching approach.


Higher engagement and better productivity

We’ve been working with companies for 12 years to explain business benefits of effective D&I efforts, and with companies taking more action to manage their reputations, we predict organisations starting to really shift the dial in 2018.

This is because when organisations initiate an effective Inclusive Leadership training strategy, the first area they start to see results in is increased engagement.

Why is this?

Let’s take a look at the opposite of inclusion: exclusion. We’ve all felt this at some point in our lives, and it’s not nice. The truth is, an employee that feels excluded can never be an engaged employee.

With higher employee engagement, comes proven higher customer engagement.

Higher employee engagement also leads to increased collaboration and innovation, and ultimately… You guessed it: higher productivity.

We predict that in 2018, more organisations will see the impact that inclusion has on the bottom line of the business.


The gender pay gap

We recently hosted the 10,000 Women in Tech APAC Virtual Conference which saw over 50 expert speakers from across the world come together to share tips and advice with women.

As I stated above, tech firms have been in the limelight recently. The purpose of this conference was to allow women access to personal and professional development, to help them succeed in a male dominated industry.

I was shocked to see this year that the gender pay gap in Australia had gone BACKWARDS. In November 2004 it was 14.9%, and in November 2017 it was 15.3%…

If you look at the yearly results over the past 2 decades, it is gradually getting better. However progress is not quick enough. The Guardian predict it will take 217 years for the gender pay gap to close completely.

My final prediction for 2018 is that with more organisations starting to focus on inclusion more broadly, and more women speaking up about gender inequality, the gender pay gap will close a little more.


What are your predictions for 2018?


This article is written by Maureen Frank, Chief Disruption Officer and Founder of emberin.

Maureen is an entrepreneur, speaker, best selling author, and proud founder of emberin. As a global leading international diversity and inclusion expert, she has mentored over 32,000 individuals. She’s a highly successful business woman: former Head of Mergers and Acquisitions for Aon in the UK and Australia, Telstra Business Woman of the Year, and BRW Rising Star.

Maureen has a ROI obsession, having established over a dozen diversity councils in major organisations, personally coached CEOs and supported clients to achieve real business results – including increasing the number of women in senior roles at Telstra from 6% to 31% in just two years.

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