February 5, 2023

Digital Marketing Education

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DE&I—how brands and agencies can prevent layoffs from undermining progress


The impact of mass layoffs on underrepresented groups has not gone unnoticed. @shaktischild, who was attending AfroTech, the largest Black tech conference last November, tweeted: “All of the black recruiters finding out during and after AfroTech that they were being laid off from the companies they were in Austin recruiting for is nasty, nasty work.”

Speaking of Twitter, it also has been no stranger to diversity elimination. Chief Executive Officer Parag Agrawal, who had been a supporter of Twitter’s employee resource groups, was fired by Elon Musk. The leaders of several of Twitter’s diversity-focused groups were also part of the job cuts. Suddenly, a company that had posted significant gains in the number of Black and Latinx workers in 2021 had undone all its DE&I efforts.

While Twitter and Meta are among the companies in the spotlight, diversity experts are eyeing any company looking to cut costs that might intentionally or unintentionally undo progress they have made to diversify their workforces. DEI is bigger than recruiting; companies must also be intentional in their retention process. Studies have shown that the roles that historically underrepresented groups are hired into tend to be seen as the most expendable. This can mean that when layoffs happen, people of color are among the first to go. It’s a problem that can be averted with intentionality during times of layoffs—and here’s how:

Don’t lay off recent hires first

When trying to trim down your workforce it is perfectly understandable to keep your most loyal employees and let go of your newer ones. This may sound normal in theory but because most companies have only recently implemented DEI efforts, this method could end up unjustly targeting men and women of color.



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