The term “diversity fatigue” refers to a condition in which individuals or groups become exhausted or overwhelmed by the constant emphasis on diversity and inclusion. Notably, after the summer of 2020 sparked discussions about institutionalized racism in all aspects of American life, particularly business. It is characterized by a sense of exhaustion, apathy, or hostility toward diversity initiatives and discussions.
Diversity fatigue can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Some people may feel exhausted from constantly engaging in conversations about diversity, believing that the topic has been overly discussed or that progress is not being made quickly enough. Others may become disinterested or detached, viewing diversity efforts as repetitive or ineffective. Furthermore, some people may become defensive or resistant to diversity initiatives, viewing them as a threat to their own interests or values.
In March 2022, Hue interviewed a certain number of respondents and a majority of them said their company’s equity initiatives for Black and Indigenous workers, as well as workers of color, had not made “meaningful progress” in the previous six months. According to research firm DDI, C-suite support for DEI efforts has decreased over the last two years. Furthermore, more businesses reported that they did not have DEI programs.
Both types of data, i.e., metrics and analytics, were positioned as a way to help HR professionals hold their leaders accountable for meaningful DEI progress at the Diversity Fatigue Summit on May 18.
Big Idea officer at summit organizer Global Inclusion Online Forum, Kostiantyn Gridin asked panelists to delve into how to measure DEI success. The performance review is one area of data collection and accountability.
Traci Sanders, Verizon’s Vice President and Global Head of DEI, explained that she recently implemented leadership principles at her company, which means that the C-suite is graded on how they foster inclusion.
“We have training and learnings that we can introduce to them based on how they are rated, to help them further get on that continuum of being an inclusive leader.” That is how we intend to use it. Not necessarily in a negative way,” Sanders added, but to provide leaders with another chance to shine.
Similarly, Lam Research Global Head of Inclusion and Diversity Antoinette Hamilton stated that inclusion and diversity have been added to the company’s core values. “That’s a strong set of principles that we all live by on a daily basis,” Hamilton said, referring to Lam’s inclusion index, and engagement survey. According to her, it is built on three pillars: inclusion, authenticity, and equal opportunity.
“People managers across the globe are measured against it, from the standpoint of the employee engagement survey,” she added. People managers receive scores at the end of the survey cycle and can see how they compare to others. “It’s a really nice benchmark,” she added, adding that Lam’s DEI team also offers learning and development in that area.
In turn, Yetta Toliver, Xerox’s global head of diversity, inclusion, and belonging, advised audience members not to get too caught up in the numbers.
“We’re very steadfast in not looking to drive any sort of indication of quota or, you know, unnatural behavior,” Toliver stated. Xerox’s approach is more about moving in the direction of goals. DEC (diversity, equity, and culture) are tenets that factor into executive compensation, in addition to establishing an executive leader mentorship program.
Leaders are “directly compensated for the work that they’re putting in — which will obviously drive the outcome that we’re looking for,” according to Toliver.