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Updated: December 26, 2022 Economic Forecast 2023

Diversity, equity & inclusion 2023 economic forecast: Slow, but steady, success

PHOTO/MATT WRIGHT Liz Wambui is the first-ever director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at construction contractor Fontaine Bros, which in April created a corporation foundation to support employees' community causes. Wambui leads the foundation.

Businesses of all sizes and industry pledged to be more inclusive in their workforces and customer bases following the May 2020 police murder of George Floyd. While those diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts have been deprioritized at organizations who were only responding to news of the moment, a number of Central Massachusetts companies and nonprofits have been somewhat successful in ingraining DEI into their cultures. 

Kenneth Elmore, the first Black president at Dean College

More diversity at the top

Increasing diversity inside a company’s workforce happens much quicker than changes at the top, as positions like CEO, executive director, and president turn over less frequently and the top candidates typically come from the talent pool in the leadership level just below the top spot. As the lower levels of the workforce has become more inclusive at organizations prioritizing DEI, companies will have a more diverse candidate pool to choose from. Already, high-profile organizations like Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the College of the Holy Cross have selected their first-ever leaders of color, and more leadership positions will be filled by people of color in 2023.

Continued CDO burnout

While organizations who fully committed to DEI will see more rewards in 2023, those who only gave the matter lip service and perhaps one employee a fancy title will see further regression next year. Chief diversity officers throughout Central Massachusetts and the nation struggled with lack of resources and inattentive upper management in 2022, which led to CDOs resigning and moving onto new companies. Without renewed investment, that trend will continue.

Business partnerships

At the end of April, the Latin American Business Organization became the latest affiliate of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, the sixth affiliation for the Worcester chamber and its first with a statewide firm and race- or ethnicity-based organization. As companies look to make further inroads into diverse communities, expect more partnerships similar to this one with nonprofits and trade associations who already have established relationships with disadvantaged populations.

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