For every organization engaging with DEI efforts, the journey looks unique: each organization’s demographic makeup, DEI knowledge and willingness to get engaged, the underlying issues shaping the culture – and the efforts to remedy them – comprise a highly individual and complex tapestry. Interestingly, when discussing DEI initiatives with current practitioners in our research, we come across a similar theme and a common challenge affecting big and small organizations alike – struggle to maintain momentum and to transform passionate DEI conversations into non-trivial changes for the stakeholders.
DEI journeys often start with gusto and enthusiasm, igniting conversations across departments, firing the drive to change the culture, to challenge the status quo. Yet weeks go by, these conversations become less loud, meetings attract fewer participants, DEI officers or informal advocates find themselves competing with other organizational initiatives for resources, budget, and attention, and slowly but surely business priorities take over and DEI becomes an afterthought.
In these situations, the impact could result in widespread frustration and resentment – and doom your DEI efforts even before they have a chance to take off. The feelings of being overwhelmed (and often disenchanted) with the DEI movement is often referred to as “diversity fatigue.” This term is not new – it has been around for almost 30 years and was originally used to describe the feelings of frustration management experienced when trying to staff their company with diverse talent. Since then, the definition has been expanded and now encompasses multiple aspects of the work and the people affected by it – from those who are tired of hearing about DEI and deem these efforts needless to those who are discouraged by the slow pace and lack of meaningful changes in this space.
Regardless of how diversity fatigue shows up in your organization, there are several factors contributing to its proliferation. With the overwhelming business case for diversity, equity, and inclusion, more and more organizations are committing budget and resources to DEI, and the number for DEI-related jobs is increasing exponentially – so why aren’t we seeing more progress in this space? It is the way companies approach these efforts that not only preserves the cultural status quo but also introduces the opposite (and unintended) effect of reducing diversity and hindering inclusion.
In part two we’ll cover the most common causes of DEI fatigue and ways your organization can fight them.
About The Author:
Katia Delgado is a Data Scientist whose natural curiosity and compassion for the human condition has led her into a career in market research. She has more than 15 years of experience in both quantitative and qualitative fields, including exploratory research, customer satisfaction tracking, brand positioning and impact, new product development, and custom studies that require advanced statistical analysis. Her work produced actionable, research-supported insights that helped inform multimillion-dollar decisions and long-term strategies of multiple international companies.
If you’re interested in hiring a DEI consultant and advancing your company’s DEI initiatives, you can reach out to Diversity Crew at LetsGo@DiversityCrew.com