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Key takeaways:

  • Supporting women in hybrid workplaces: Provide flexible work options and tailored programs to retain women in the workforce, acknowledging their disproportionate impact from COVID-19 and their crucial role in promoting DEI.
  • Fostering personal connections: Use Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to create a sense of community and belonging, which can help sustain engagement in DEI strategies and contribute to a diverse and inclusive workplace culture.
  • Maintaining inspiration and encouragement: Keep employees inspired and engaged by prioritizing DEI initiatives, compensating individuals dedicated to advancing DEI efforts, and utilizing intentional in-person meetings to foster connections and drive value in hybrid work environments.

Two years after racism and discrimination sparked protests to address diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), companies are looking to keep momentum on their strategies while mitigating fatigue. However, with responsibilities helping in employee retention, hiring, performance management, mental health, and equitable access — which have become even more critical in hybrid workplaces — supporting employees and creating diverse and inclusive environments have become more complex.

With many companies’ plans to return to in-person work delayed, DEI leaders face even more challenges keeping employees engaged in DEI efforts.

So how are DEI leaders keeping their strategies at the forefront of their organizations while mitigating DEI burnout in hybrid workplaces?

Provide Flexible Options to Retain Women in the Workforce

One way for DEI leaders to keep momentum is by supporting women in hybrid workplaces who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. A McKinsey study showed that women – especially women of color – feel more pressure to work than men in hybrid environments while feeling more burned out. At the same time, they’re more likely to promote DEI in their organizations than men.

A loss of connectivity and belonging coupled with the duties of home life has intensified the already existing challenges that women face in career development. With more women choosing to work remotely, leaders have concerns that this would limit promotion opportunities.

Flexible work options and learning and development programs are some ways Wiley’s Chief People and Business Operations Officer Danielle McMahan says can help keep women engaged in DEI work.

“We have been focused on adding employee resource groups for women in tech,” Danielle says. “We have added some high potential programs and access to learning for our future women in leadership roles.”

Create Opportunities for Personal Connections

There are concerns of personal connections being lost in hybrid work environments, and DEI leaders question if they can sustain the engagement on their strategies.

One way to gain a network of personal connections is through employee resource groups (ERGs). A Harvard Law study revealed that the community-based connections that ERGs provide help foster diverse and inclusive workplaces and keep the needle moving for DEI strategies.

Chandra Vasser, Vice President and Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer at Nissan, explains how their ERGs help advance their DEI strategies. She says the ERGs “connect employees with shared characteristics or interests, build allies, and foster a company culture where all employees feel supported and included.”

Keep employees inspired and encouraged

According to a CNBC study, employees are increasingly looking for companies that prioritize DEI — 78% of the workforce. But many DEI leaders are battling with keeping their teams inspired and encouraged as diversity fatigue weighs down.

This is especially true for those with caretaking responsibilities and those from underrepresented groups, says Deloitte Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Kavitha Prabhakar. She explains how creating intentional in-person meetings can help keep people engaged.

“Our shift to a hybrid model is about applying even more intentionality and rigor when planning time across client sites, offices, and home,” Kavitha says. “Our plan is to come together in person in cases where it derives the most value for our people and clients, while activities that derive less value are more likely to be virtual.”

Many DEI leaders also believe compensating people dedicated to advancing DEI in their organizations can help mitigate fatigue. Netta Jenkins, Vice President of Global Inclusion at Unqork, talks about why ERG compensation can help keep the needle moving.

“Employee resource groups are really crucial for recruitment and supporting individuals from underrepresented groups and then advocating for equitable company policies,” Netta says.

Mitigating Fatigue While Leading DEI in an Enterprise Environment

DEI fatigue takes its toll, and while DEI is top of mind for many organizations, DEI leaders are mitigating burnout from these complex challenges.

You can learn how to address the burnout DEI leaders face by keeping informed through newsletters such as Korn Ferry or DiversityInc.

If fatigue is starting to wear on you or your team as a DEI leader, experts at SHRM have highlighted how mental health programs and resources should be prioritized as part of DEI initiatives.

Leading DEI at a large enterprise is hard, but you don’t have to do it alone. The people who can best help you are people who lead DEI strategies like you.

You can get answers to your toughest questions with a trusted network of peers who understand your challenges, such as the DEI Board.

Interested in learning more?

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