2021 has undeniably been a rollercoaster of a year. Starting the year in lockdown, organisations faced the continued challenges of isolation and remote working that had characterised 2020. During the year, employees ventured back to the office and business leaders navigated how to implement a successful hybrid working model with a scarce workforce as the ‘Great Resignation’ gained pace. With these trends expected to continue this year, DiversityQ spoke to ten technology industry leaders about their diversity and inclusion predictions for 2022 and how organisations can prepare.
Diversity and inclusion predictions – hybrid working will stay
Starting the year in a lockdown in the UK changed organisations’ approach to workspaces throughout 2021, and perhaps permanently. The gradual return to offices in the summer and autumn months saw many adopt a hybrid working model, removing the requirement for employees to be in the office full time.
“In 2022, business leaders are going to face a split: continue working remotely, return to the office or fully embrace the hybrid approach,” explains Terry Storrar, Managing Director, Leaseweb UK.
“For many companies, it has become clear that adopting a remote or hybrid work model can be a much more efficient way to conduct business, as well as improving employee satisfaction. As such, office space is likely to become more centred on hot-desking and drop-in facilities. Time spent with colleagues will subsequently become more meaningful, collaborative and innovative as ‘together time’ is used in a more structured way.”
Many organisations are currently still figuring out what a hybrid working model means for them. “Permanent office space and long term leases are likely to be a thing of the past and this will inevitably lead to a shift in budget allocation,” notes Steve Roberts, Chief Financial Officer at Glasswall.
“My advice for businesses in 2022 is to ensure any budget that is no longer attributed to office leases is reallocated to effective collaboration tools, increasing security and employee wellbeing. An unused budget is not a net saving, so it should be applied elsewhere to ensure that the new hybrid working model is secure and healthy.
However, Stuart Abbott, AVP & GM, UK & Ireland at Commvault, adds: “The mass acceleration of people working remotely that we’ve seen over the past two years has drastically increased the threat landscape. And this isn’t likely to change anytime soon – I don’t believe we’re going to see employees going back into offices full-time in the near future. Because of this, in 2022 we will unsurprisingly see cybercrime – and ransomware specifically – continues to be a major challenge for organisations. Protecting their ever-growing IT environments will be a major priority.”
Richard Guy, UK Sales Manager at Ergotron summarises: “Strategies to support hybrid working are no longer optional and employers should have a New Year’s resolution to evaluate their current provisions against future needs if they haven’t already done so. This should include workspace design, flexible technology and equipment to deliver for their employees’ wellbeing and effective on- and off-site team collaboration.”
2021 saw the technology skills gap persist for the fifth year running. With this ongoing problem only being worsened by the recent ‘Great Resignation’, talent retention has never been more important for the tech industry.
“Acquisition and retention of talent is the biggest headache for business leaders. In industries such as IT there simply aren’t enough people to go around, which is driving rampant poaching and spiralling wage inflation,” explains Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO at Content Guru.
The concept of borderless jobs will become commonplace especially in industries suffering from an acute talent shortage such as IT and cybersecurity. “We’re already seeing start-ups recruiting internationally as competition intensifies and remote working technology improves,” adds Nick Adams, Vice President of Sales, EMEA at Globalization Partners.
“The challenge these businesses face is finding the global talent to build the best teams. The talent is there, but it’s likely to be in places organisations have not traditionally considered before.”
Key to retaining talent is engaging employees through interesting, practical and personalised training – which also plays its part in closing the skills gap – argues Ian Rawlings, RVP EMEA at SumTotal: “For millennials, on-the-job training is proving a decisive factor when it comes to deciding whether or not to accept a position or to leave an organisation.
“With employee engagement a strategic priority for organisations everywhere, 2022 will be the year in which corporate learning becomes established as an integral element of an enterprise’s employee engagement platform. But that’s not all. In 2022 we expect organisations will double down on evaluating the learning requirements needed to achieve operational excellence. For many that will mean going beyond skills-based courses and giving employees far greater freedom to navigate their own learning journeys.”
“In the fast-paced and disruptive technology industry, preparing for the skills of the future should be a strategic priority in 2022,” agrees Agata Nowakowska, AVP EMEA, Skillsoft.
“Recent research indicates that 38% of IT leaders believe their existing skills development programmes are being outpaced by the rate of technology change, contributing to the growing skills gap. Training people for the jobs of tomorrow means aligning skills development with business needs – and considering what those needs will be in 10, 20, 50 years.”
The difference diversity makes
Business leaders’ eyes have finally opened to the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace this year, with Skillsoft reporting a 72% increase in DEI course completion since March of 2020. Skillsoft’s Nowakowska says: “Without any doubt, DEI is a strategic conversation that most companies need to have these days – with many organisations appointing an officer or committee responsible for spearheading initiatives and making positive changes.”
Despite this move in the right direction, there is still more to be done. It is especially important that technology companies have diverse teams because, as Mini Biswas, Pre-Sales Manager at Node4, emphasises, “technology reflects the people that create it. It is for this exact reason that it is so important for the teams working on these projects to be diverse. It ensures that the technology reflects the general population – be it gender, ethnicity, age, geography, experience, education, interests, and more.
“Improving diversity within the tech industry is a crucial element in developing the best new technology, closing the skills gap, and creating an inclusive culture. As we head into 2022, this should be a top priority for every organisation in the tech industry.”
Boardroom discussions for 2022
There will be many boardroom discussions taking place as we head into 2022 – from business strategy to HR matters. “Many boards – particularly in the nonprofit sector – haven’t crossed over the digital threshold and are stuck with time-consuming and error-prone manual processes. Board portals must evolve into holistic governance, risk, audit, and compliance platforms that enable transparency and connectivity between leaders, boards, and employees,” concludes MarKeith Allen, SVP and GM, Diligent Mission Driven Organisations.
“Moving into 2022, we’ll see increased adoption of board portal solutions that put innovative leaders at the helm of an intuitive environment that improves efficiency, collaboration, communication, security and board governance.”