In 2022, employers continued focusing on enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) efforts— although still hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Companies learned what younger workers want from their workplaces, pay inequity continued to plague women of color, a major university launched a DE&I major and research offered an unfiltered view of the state of DE&I at work.
Here's how DE&I influenced the workplace in 2022.
Federal Government Prioritized DE&I
During his State of the Union address in January, President Joe Biden implored Congress to pass the Equality Act.
The bill would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, federally funded programs, credit checks and jury service. The bill remains with the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Later that month, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs launched a joint program, the Hiring Initiative to Reimagine Equity, to promote hiring and recruiting practices that enhance equal employment opportunities.
The EEOC also held meetings to discuss issues such as how to avoid hiring discrimination when using AI; released a new "Know Your Rights" poster; and settled lawsuits involving sexual misconduct, harassment against LGBTQ employees and a birthday celebration held against the wishes of a worker with mental health issues.
Women Continued to Face Barriers
While the federal government moved to protect underrepresented communities, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a landmark decision that protected women's right to have an abortion.
The ruling was praised by some but also sparked outrage, particularly among Black women. As some workplaces began providing travel assistance for abortions, some HR professionals provided tips for handling Roe v. Wade discussions in the workplace in a civil manner.
In March, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) released a report, Women in Leadership: Unequal Access on the Journey to the Top, revealing that female managers are more likely than their male counterparts to aspire to higher-level roles because they would be good at it or because they're interested in taking on more or different responsibilities.
Yet the report shows that:
- Just 9 percent of HR professionals describe their organization's leaders as predominantly women.
- 50 percent describe their organization's senior leaders as predominantly men.
- Women are less likely than men to say they've received tangible support from managers in attaining higher-level leadership positions despite being equally likely to share those aspirations.
In May, a former manager for Google and Meta bragged on social media about openly discriminating against female job applicants during the interview process. Most interviewers don't go that far, but many do ask female candidates inappropriate questions, such as their marital status, which can be perceived as discriminatory.
And five years after the #MeToo movement ballooned in popularity, sexual harassment at work continued to occur at high rates.
Pronouns in the Workplace
In September, Wynn Nowland, an openly transgender CEO for insurance firm Bradley & Parker in Melville, N.Y., spoke about her experiences coming out to her company while also touching on the importance of using a person's correct pronouns in the workplace.
On Transgender Day of Visibility, the White House added new measures that provide additional gender options when filing discrimination claims and on U.S. passports, procedural modifications to airport security, and changes to Social Security records to promote inclusion.
Transgender workers often deal with workplace harassment, which has contributed to higher suicide rates in the LGBTQ community than in many other groups. However, the workplace can play a critical role in supporting employees with suicidal ideations by recognizing signs and symptoms, compassionately reaching out to employees when appropriate and providing helpful resources to them.
In November, tragedy struck the LGBTQ community when a gunman killed five people and injured 17 others at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo. The event came several months after a string of racially charged shootings occurred in Buffalo, N.Y., and Laguna Woods, Calif.
Security experts explained that drafting a workplace-violence-prevention program and establishing a threat management team can better prepare companies to protect the workforce in active-shooter situations.
The Great Resignation and Tech Layoffs
Many younger workers became more selective about their jobs in 2022. While some organizations began requiring employees to return to the office, a Microsoft report revealed that younger workers desire workplace flexibility, strong DE&I initiatives and a healthy company culture.
Meanwhile, a SHRM study showed that Black workers are more likely than white workers to actively search for a new job or plan to search for one in the next few months. DE&I experts believe systemic inequities and an entrepreneurial spirit have led to more Black employees exploring their employment options.
Later in the year, mass layoffs hit many workplaces—particularly in the technology sector.
More than 45,000 tech workers lost their jobs in November after a series of layoffs, budget cuts and hiring freezes rocked the industry. Reports indicated that tech layoffs throughout 2022 disproportionately affected individuals from underserved communities.