Why Diversity Fatigue — by Mauricio Velásquez

I think many people are tired of the diversity issues percolating and re-circulating in the workplace, marketplace, and society-at-large, but way too many people just don’t realize that these diversity and inclusion issues are going unacknowledged, unresolved and “will come back over and over again.”  The question is not should we fear diversity fatigue but why are so many people so fatigued?

Because these real, major, emotionally-charged, historically relevant, underlying diversity issues are going unaddressed, unresolved and hence no change or improvement is apparent.  People get frustrated, I see it in my workshops and consulting – especially those in the “out-group” feel frustrated.  What kills me is when someone from the “in-group” with privilege and favoritism on their side express their diversity fatigue.  This can only exacerbate the fatigue felt by those in the out-group.  Denial – “we don’t have D & I issues” is a dish best served with information, knowledge and understanding – not ignorance.

You read about another organization that “does not get it” and allows diversity and inclusion issues to go unresolved for way too long and you ask – “How could that organization be so foolish?”  Well, most individuals and organizations are conflict avoiders.  Diversity consultants like DTG – are conflict confronters.  I tell all of our clients – “I am not here to tell you what you want to hear – I am here to tell you what I see, what we found.”

Diversity fatigue is a symptom of more systemic issues, organizational culture issues steeped in status quo and tradition.  One of my clients called their diversity and inclusion efforts “benign neglect.”  They had no clear intention to ignore their diversity issues – “it just happened.”  Having diversity and inclusion issues is not a bad thing – doing nothing about them is where organizations get in trouble.    It is why DTG and our work have pushed us into the “sweet spot” or crossroads where…

  • Diversity and Inclusion Issues
  • Employee Engagement (Toxic Employee)
  • Trust (or lack thereof)
  • Being World Class (many of our clients are striving for this)
  • Performing at a High Level

…..

Collide, intersect or coming crashing into each other.  Ignore your D & I issues and how can there be trust and without trust employee disengage and perform at “mediocre levels” at best and then forget about striving to be world class.  I don’t think this “diversity math” should be hard to grasp for most people but you would be surprised.  
The comment that I heard recently sized it up – “They should just be happy to have a job.”

His explanation for not understanding or caring about their diversity issues and why maybe he was “not getting it.”  Wow!  You should have seen the rest of the participants in that session look at him (their leader).  I always say without followership there is no leadership.  Do you think he has trust issues?  He is wondering why his employees are actively disengaged and performance and morale is low?

One thing is to be unaware of your diversity issues, another is to be aware and not address them but the ultimate diversity crime organizations commit is to just not care and ignore the issues hoping they go away by themselves.

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