This is not the time to cut DEI efforts

Mari's Memo

January 2023 – Happy New Year, everyone. I hope your holidays were wonderful and safe.

Over the last weeks, several recent headlines sent alarms blaring in my head.

“Tech layoffs spell trouble for HR and diversity professionals.” – Fortune

“DEI programming stalled in 2022.” – CNBC

“How companies are faking their DEI strategy and making it worse for workers.” – Inc.

This isn’t the time to cut back on your organization’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. I know that the talk of an impending recession is concerning, and leaders have a lot of decisions to consider, but DEI has proven to be good for business. A 2020 global report by McKinsey & Company found that companies with high gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability, while companies with high ethnic and cultural diversity outperformed others by 36 percent. Also, keeping talented and diverse staff is more efficient than trying to hire them back when the recession ends.

Earlier in this newsletter, we mentioned our latest Equity Conversations podcast on gaslighting, a form of psychological manipulation that hinges on creating self-doubt. (If you haven’t listened to it yet, I highly recommend it.) One example of gaslighting that our guest, Dr. Tae-Sun Kim, vice president and chief diversity officer at Legacy Health, provided is when leaders claim publicly that they care about DEI and then fail to allocate resources. When that happens, employees, especially employees of color, feel like they don’t belong and organizations end up losing talent, which, at the end of the day, hurts the bottom line.

Finally, I take slight issue with the CNBC headline which called DEI a program. It’s not. DEI is a mindset and strategy. As with any good business plan, it must be embedded into every aspect of the organization, not as a standalone “department” or “program.”

Thus, your new year resolution should be to lean into DEI more in 2023 and you will come out ahead in the long term.