Many employees have encountered the following scenario – a huge corporate announcement about diversity, equity and inclusion followed by a big ramp up! And then…a steady dialing back of initiatives until it feels like the announcement never happened. There is the slow, but inevitable realization that a few sensitivity trainings and cultural appreciation lunches won’t fix systemic challenges in the workplace. Instead of pushing through, a lot of companies just quit.
Just one year after the racial reckoning of 2020, an article in Fortune revealed that most of the billions of dollars pledged to Black communities never materialized. Three years later, particularly over the last six months, high-profile rounds of layoffs have disproportionately impacted people of color and women and have made a huge dent in diversity efforts. These are just some of the symptoms of diversity fatigue.
Diversity Fatigue is, “emotional resistance, stress, and frustration that can build up over time, especially as an organization works to address DEI issues within its own walls (and in society at large),” Porter Braswell, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Jopwell, wrote in Fast Company.
At RALIANCE, we recognize that change is part of a slow, sustained shift and we help our partners and clients implement long-term strategies that will take them through the trials of overturning old systems. Here are three tips we’ve shared with some of our clients:
-Build out a team. “We most often see companies add an individual DEI position, but that is not sustainable. That role needs support and there need to be changes in how other roles and teams are structured to help bring DEI throughout the structure of the organization,” said RALIANCE’s Director of Communications Laura Palumbo.
–Focus on one area at a time. As we discussed in a recent blog, DEI is multidimensional and expansive. Thus, in order to make addressing it sustainable, companies should focus on select priorities areas at a time to avoid overwhelm.
–Set achievable goals. With the help of a dedicated DEI staff member or consultant, companies can get achievable milestone goals instead of large promises and activations that may not be easy to reach.
Avoiding diversity fatigue is not just about letting down marginalized employees—it is also an opportunity for customers, clients and all staff within the company to improve morale, business, and make people feel included.
Culture change is not something that happens overnight, but requires long-term commitment and persistence. DEI is no different.
With these and other small strategies, companies can make and truly keep their commitment to every employee.
RALIANCE is a trusted adviser for organizations committed to building cultures that are safe, equitable, and respectful. RALIANCE offers unparalleled expertise in serving survivors of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse which drives our mission to help organizations across sectors create inclusive environments for all. For more information, please visit www.RALIANCE.org.