Recent years have seen a diversity and inclusion hiring boom. After Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, organizations of all stripes made promises to boost gender and racial diversity in their ranks. Dozens brought in their first-ever Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officers. In the three months after George Floyd’s murder, DE&I job postings jumped 123%, according to data from jobs site Indeed.
Now, just as tech companies had started to make progress, they’re scaling back those teams before fully meeting goals or creating workforces that look like the broader US population. Meta Chief Diversity Officer Maxine Williams warned last fall that cost-cutting would slow its diversity hiring efforts.
“Cutting DE&I-oriented staff now, unless you’ve made really progress and can say ‘mission accomplished’ is not a good look,” said Angie Kamath, dean at the NYU School of Professional Studies, who focuses on workforce development. “There are some real risks.”
In some cases, companies might even backslide, said Monne Williams, an Atlanta-based partner at McKinsey & Company.
Workers are more likely to leave companies where equity efforts aren’t a priority. Nearly one in five female leaders have left a job in the past two years because of a company’s lack of commitment to DE&I, according to an October report from McKinsey and LeanIn.org. In a 2019 survey of 2,000 workers, McKinsey found that 39% decided against pursuing or accepting a job because of a perceived lack of inclusion at a company.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion can’t be a thing that you only do when times are good,” Williams said. “If it becomes a flavor of the week, then companies will lose out on talent.”