It’s no secret that the widespread Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) layoffs and budget cuts are affecting companies and organizations across all industries. These are happening despite the increased attention on DEI initiatives in the workplace and are raising serious questions and concerns around these organizations’ commitment to these values.
The Covid-19 pandemic has altered the way we do business and has many companies reckoning with how they can remain profitable. This has led to significant budget cuts and staffing reductions, which are not only causing immense anxiety for employees but also piling on additional workload for folks. It’s a confusing situation considering people are continuing to leave their jobs in droves due to burnout and a lack of care and belonging in the workplace. It’s a continuous cycle of Burnout — Labor Shortage — Layoff — Burnout. How do we break this cycle?
Who is being affected by these layoffs and budget cuts?
Truthfully, these layoff and budget cuts are impacting everyone. Even if you have not lost your job, the sheer anxiety of losing it is contributing to the widespread burnout being felt. In the tech industry alone, there have been over 121,000 people laid off in just this year. While this is very unsettling for all people, statistics are showing that people of marginalized identities are getting hit the hardest.
Why is this happening despite all of the inclusivity commitments that many organizations pledged back in 2020, after the tragic murder of George Floyd at the hands of police violence?
Star Carter, co-founder and CEO at DEI tech company Kanarys, said layoffs historically and disproportionately affect women and people of color because companies are often not diverse and inclusive throughout its matrix. More often than not, inclusive representation is primarily concentrated in entry level positions that are considered to be “non-essential” roles. These are the first positions to be impacted in a layoff. These roles often encompass Human Resources, DEI, administrative positions, and content-focused positions. These roles are statistically held by the majority of people who identify as women.
Why is this even happening?
For decades, the tech industry has touted how “safe and secure” the growing industry is… or should we say WAS. Because of this perceived security, many companies irresponsibly hired beyond their means. But it’s not just the tech industry, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost every industry from hospitality to government has experienced layoffs and discharges. It seems we have gone from “quiet quitting” to “VERY loud layoffs.”
Surprisingly though, millions of people are continuing to leave their jobs. The “rage applying” trend is still in full effect, where people apply to jobs when they feel uncared for and frustrated in their current workplace environment. It is a cathartic, action-based response that helps ease feelings of tension and helplessness. Additionally, there is still a labor shortage despite these widespread layoffs. There are so many conflicting themes showing up in the current workplace landscape, no wonder we all seem to be unable to make sense of what’s going on.
What should we do?
Understandably, during these times of instability, we want to do everything we can to support ourselves and find a sense of security. Oftentimes, we think that means working 5000 times harder and forcing ourselves to be PERFECT and make zero mistakes. This can also look like shutting down, feeling numb to everything, and not taking any action. All responses are valid, however, we have some suggestions for different options. Working more will only lead to more burnout and stress so we are not recommending this. However, we do think it’s important to consider an action to help restore your sense of safety and security, even if it only comes back slightly.
The first step is to breathe and figure out how you’re feeling. Do you feel guilty in some way? Do you regret a decision that you made? Are you anxious because you have people to support? Whatever your situation, do a compassionate check in and see what’s coming up. Remember, it’s okay to just validate for yourself that you’re having a hard time and feeling unsure, unsafe, and helpless right now. Truthfully, circumstances can be slightly easier to handle once we put a name to what we are experiencing. The next step is to identify how you want to feel and consider what actions you can do to help get you there. These actions can look like:
- Taking a walk in nature or sitting on some grass
- Sharing what’s happening with your loved ones and seeking community
- Exercising to feel present in your body
- Taking 5 minutes to do some breathing exercises in the sun
You can pair an action from Step 1 with the following:
- Write down 5-10 characteristics of your ideal workplace
- Write down your career goals and consider if your current job is aligned
- Consider if you want to try and make a career change or start upskilling by taking courses and joining programs
- Start looking at jobs that align with your career goals and interests
- Look into small side hustles you might be interested in starting
- Nurture and grow your networks authentically to learn of potential opportunities and make genuine connections
- Update your resume and LinkedIn profile
While the second list of options might feel more practical and make you feel better on their own, we highly encourage you to pair it with one or more items from the first list. Getting grounded and reconnected to yourself is so important in order to feel less stressed and anxious. The first list tends to your emotional needs, and the second tends to your logical needs. You need both in order to come back into alignment and make the best decision for yourself.
Although the current job market is feeling confusing and unstable, there are steps you can take to help gain some control of the situation. Remember to attend to your emotional and logical mind needs, and keep in mind, you are not alone. When we are experiencing high amounts of stress and anxiety, all we want is to gain a sense of control and it’s incredibly easy to feel lonely and want to withdraw. Although all responses and feelings are valid, we highly recommend getting grounded first and then proceeding forward. We are all in this together.
To stay up to date on this workplace pivot, and access additional ERG tools and resources, check out ERG Dynamics™ and start leading your organization through this workplace shift.Free Stock photos by Vecteezy