The phrase ‘diversity fatigue’ can conjure up complaints of “awkward conversations” or social media comments from people that are “tired of hearing about it”. However, diversity fatigue is also used to describe the exhaustion, despair, and a (worryingly) potential disconnect felt by those working hard to create a diverse, equitable, and inclusive world.
Breaking down barriers and building fair and equal processes, all while justifying your work, can be emotionally draining — especially when progress is slow. Of course, giving up is not an option. And as Hua Hsu wrote in the New Yorker, whichever definition of diversity fatigue you refer to: “the true casualties of “diversity fatigue” are the ones who never feel entitled enough to complain about it.”
If you, your coworker, or team are struggling to stay motivated, be sure to spare a few moments and read the words of wisdom shared by the esteemed members of our WORK180 DEI Board.
Global Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Valtech
Asif Sadiq MBE
Senior Vice President and Head of Equity and Inclusion International, Warner Media
Vice President, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Shipt
Senior Manager, Global Employer Brand & Recruitment Marketing, DoorDash
Expert words of advice from the WORK180 DEI Board
Firstly, remember that your DEI work matters — now more than ever
In a sentiment echoed by all members of the DEI Board, Asif Sadiq states that: “Progress has been made, however there is still much more to be done.” Andréa Long further explains: “Gender equity in the workplace is still far from being achieved. Women are recruited less (especially at leadership levels), paid less, valued less, and promoted less than their male counterparts, and the data only gets worse when looking at intersectionality, (that is, Black women, women with disabilities, and so on).”
Sheree Atcheson also highlights the impact of COVID-19: “We are still processing and living through a global pandemic, which has disproportionately affected women and primarily women of color. It’s key that organizations learn lessons from this pandemic, as opposed to attempting to move back ways of working and workplaces to the way they were — which didn’t work for everyone and saw the gaps of inequity widening in the past two years.”
Limonthas expands on this point with an important warning: “COVID-19 has disproportionately increased the time women spend on family responsibilities, in addition to their professional responsibilities. This imbalance has resulted in women dropping out of the workforce at a higher rate than men. Without intervention to address the pandemic’s impact on women, there is a risk that progress towards workplace equity could go in reverse. This would not only set back gender equality but also hold back the global economy.”
What you’re doing will change the world
“Women and non-binary people make up half of the world’s population; therefore, they make up half of potential customers and users.” Andréa explains: “We need people from all backgrounds at the decision-making tables in order to build products, solutions, and services for all people that fit their unique needs and wants.”
Sheree adds: “Without gender parity and equity, we continue to work in echo chambers which continue the problems where we form, create and approve solutions for everyone, which simply do not have everyone’s needs in mind.”
In other words, gender equity isn’t a ‘nice-to-have’. Aaron explains: “Employers have a critically important choice to make: act now to remove barriers to greater female labor-force participation and a bigger role in society and reap the economic and social benefits; delay (or do nothing) and allow the disappointing status quo to prevail and slide backward, leaving massive economic opportunity on the table and negatively affecting the lives of millions of women.”
Did you know?
of respondents to the What Women Want survey said they wanted to work somewhere that prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)
And finally, go easy on yourself
It’s about progress, not perfection. When asked for their final words of advice, each DEI Board member was keen to stress the importance of incremental impact and the shared responsibility of DEI efforts.
“Gender equity in the workplace is long overdue. Although there isn’t one right solution for every company, every little step in the right direction matters.”
“It is not only the right thing to do, but also makes great business sense and drives innovation. Remember, it is important to not only focus on the quick wins but to create sustainable efforts that drive long term change.”
“Listen, provide action and pivot if needed. DEI strategies cannot and should not be static — the past year has proven this. Remember to listen to your employees at scale and develop a response which answers those needs – not any needs you may be making assumptions on. Assumptions are riddled with bias.”
“Though companies may be in competition with each other at times, when it comes to DEI, we are all in this together. If you can learn from peers, as well as, support them in their DEI journey, then we will see long lasting systemic change, building equity for all.”