In HR Dive’s Mailbag series, we answer HR professionals’ questions about all things work. Have a question? Send it to [email protected].
Q: How can HR leads keep DEI momentum going with a recession on the horizon?
A: Since June 2022, HR professionals and workers — especially in the tech lane — have witnessed a slew of layoffs. Walmart, Twitter and Netflix have made headlines with their cuts, along with dozens of other tech and retail heavy hitters.
Less than two weeks ago data from The Conference Board suggested 41% of working adults believe the U.S. is already in a recession. Even 33% of their peers believe that while the recession isn’t here yet, it’s soon to come.
As CFOs and CPOs put their heads together to make the most of dwindling budgets, the question of where diversity, equity and inclusion efforts factor in arises. Arguably, organizations need inclusion and belonging measures — along with attention to equity in compensation and benefit practices — now more than ever, suggested Misty Gaither, Indeed’s senior director and global head of diversity, inclusion and belonging.
“As companies shift their focus to mitigate risks to revenue growth and profitability, it is important to make these plans with an equitable lens — to ensure efforts to attract, retain and grow a more diverse employee base are not compromised during this time,” she told HR Dive via email. Currently, organizations “sit at the intersection of the Great Realization, global health crises, ongoing social issues and now a looming recession,” she continued. Doubling down on DEI will be critical to maintaining the momentum of the programs and strategies already in place, she explained.
There isn’t a tradeoff that has to be made while focusing on a pending recession when DEI is at the foundation of business operations.
Senior Director and Global Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at Indeed
Because of the ever-changing sociocultural and sociopolitical landscapes, prioritizing mental health among DEI goals is critical, Gaither said. “Our data shows that workers are more likely to join and remain at companies when these important initiatives are openly discussed, prioritized and embedded into the operations of the company,” she continued. Talent from marginalized backgrounds can truly be successful if they work in an environment in which there’s a strong sense of belonging, Gaither said.
HR pros may feel exhausted at the prospect of adding not just another dish to their plate, but another plate to the table. Gaither reminded HR leaders that all organizational leaders — not just HR pros — are responsible for moving the needle toward inclusion, belonging and fairness.
DEI teams also exist so a dedicated group of people can set goals and develop strategies to achieve them. “They are the subject matter experts that enable, advise and intervene with the rest of the organization to ensure workplace practices are inclusive and equitable,” Gaither said. “There isn’t a tradeoff that has to be made while focusing on a pending recession, when DEI is at the foundation of business operations.”