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Addressing Marginalization in the Workplace

Key Takeaways

  • Companies must consider and prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) during layoffs to avoid disproportionately impacting marginalized communities.
  • Tech layoffs hit underrepresented groups especially hard, setting back efforts by the industry to build a more diverse workforce.
  • To create a more equitable workplace during layoffs, companies should seek alternative solutions, communicate openly, collect workforce demographic data to support decision-making, offer outplacement services for impacted individuals, and rebuild with inclusivity in mind.

Listen: The truth about layoffs and inequity, and how to overcome it.

Conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are missing an important piece of the puzzle. We need to be talking about layoffs. Most of the focus on DEI centers on things like diversity recruiting, equity in pay and promotions, and fostering inclusivity and belonging. But workforce reductions should not be overlooked because they’re another area where marginalized communities are disproportionately impacted. That’s why companies must prioritize DEI in all areas of their operations.

When companies downsize, it’s not just a matter of losing jobs. Marginalized communities feel the impact even more because they already face hurdles to finding employment, stability, and career growth. Furthermore, there seems to be a prevailing bias against hiring individuals who have experienced layoffs, where employers might disregard highly qualified candidates solely because their previous positions were eliminated during a workforce reduction.  This perpetuates a vicious cycle.

I constantly emphasize the importance of addressing the root causes of underrepresentation at work, not just treating the symptoms. This is a point I often discuss with my clients, urging them to change their systems to create a truly inclusive workplace. While addressing the immediate problems may provide temporary relief, sustainable changes are essential for long-lasting results. Read on to learn how DEI efforts often break down during layoffs and how to make workforce reductions more equitable by taking a holistic approach to DEI.

The disproportionate effect of layoffs on marginalized communities

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