8 Tips for Fighting Diversity Fatigue
Amber Madison, Co-Founder of Peoplism, has identified eight ways D&I practitioners can combat diversity fatigue in their workplace.
1. Set realistic expectations around D&I work.
- D&I is a business imperative.
- Issues of D&I are infinitely complex and there are no quick fixes.
- Progress is going to be hard fought over a long period of time.
- Progress requires significant resources, willingness to change practices and policies.
- Part of this process is failing.
2. Set goals that are clearly defined, discrete, and measurable. The goal post must be
clear or progress cannot be seen.
- Instead of “increase inclusion,” something like, “increase inclusion by doing X, Y, Z.”
- Consider process related goals around diversity (e.g. We will structure hiring processes
in a way that mitigates bias.)
- Consider process related goals around equity—representation at different levels. (e.g.
We will conduct a pay equity analysis and make adjustments, if needed.)
- If you are setting numeric goals around diversity and equity, be *VERY* careful about
- Be sure to set goals around inclusion, belonging and employee experience.
3. Show progress by tying initiatives to your goals.
- Clearly tie each initiative you take on to a specific goal so that efforts don’t feel fractured.
- Be clear that every initiative is a contributing factor to success rather than a promised
silver bullet to success.
- Report the outcome of every completed initiative (even if it’s just an email or Slack
message, your employees are watching and want to know).
- Don’t blindly take on initiatives because it seems like you “ should. ” Understand why it is
right for your company.
4. Communicate to the entire company regularly.
- At least quarterly: What D&I+ initiatives you are implementing and how they relate to
- At least yearly: Your progress towards your goals. (Start small and manageable. It
doesn’t have to be a fancy report. A sincere email or all hands announcement will do).
5. Get some concrete wins by showing responsiveness.
- Ask employees about inclusion and belonging experiences.
- Understand perception is EVERYTHING when it comes to inclusion and belonging.
- Report back what you heard.
- Report 2-3 concrete actions you are taking a result of what you heard.
6. Empower people to take action.
- Give employees something specific they can do (though be clear it’s not a silver bullet).
- Examples: Concrete tools for leading inclusive meetings, things you can say when you
hear someone say something offensive, what you can do if you see someone getting cut
off in a meeting, etc.
7. Be clear about Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging, Equity.
- Make sure everyone involved in D&I+ efforts is clear on what these words mean at your
- Spoiler alert: There is no clear agreement on definitions of these words…this is not as
basic of a task as it sounds.
- Share the meanings of these words with your employees.
- When you talk about your efforts, be clear and precise about the main target of your
efforts rather than throwing these words together in a jumble.
8. Don’t dodge the elephant in the room: Address isms head on.
- You can start with unconscious bias, but be clear to employees it is a starting point.
- If you have limited resources or your employees have limited attention spans, you have
to start with a more hard-hitting conversation.
- Conversations/trainings should include conversations about bias in your workplace
- Conversations/trainings should address systemic biases and stereotypes, and help
participants challenge their biases.
- Conversations around sexism and racism MUST be treated delicately, or they can cause
real damage. (That’s not an excuse to avoid them though.)
- Assessments (hiring funnel, pay equity, inclusion + belonging, etc.)
- Trainings (one-of-a-kind trainings–not unconscious bias—proven to help participants become less biased, and foster inclusion and belonging.)
- Customized Strategies & Implementations (hiring, performance review, promotions, inclusive culture building, team belonging interventions, etc.)