The Real Cost of Cutting Diversity Programs
Scaling back these initiatives sends a clear message to stakeholders
With news of layoffs, prolonged inflation and the possibility of a recession, many business leaders are reexamining their strategies and prioritizing the most critical business initiatives. For many companies that means that DEI&B (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging) initiatives are threatened, signaling that these efforts are still considered adjacent to the business rather than integral to the company's operations. This also begs the question: Was there ever a strategy in place to truly transform DEI&B?
For many companies, data-driven, actionable DEI&B strategies are relatively new, brought on by the convergence of the pandemic and the social and political unrest of 2020. These commitments were filled with public promises to employees and customers. To immediately cut them at the first sign of economic hardship is a signal to employees that they were actually just as performative as the black squares posted across social media.
Of course, in uncertain economic times, all departments should reexamine their budgets. However, this can be done equitably, leveraging data that underscores the impact and outcomes of the DEIB initiatives. Scaling back on DEI&B initiatives because they're considered "optional" within a company's budget reveals a lack of understanding of the signal it sends to employees, customers and the community. Not only does it jeopardize the company's commitment to diversity and inclusion, but it also risks negatively impacting its products and services.
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