How Layoffs Affect Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Since the start of 2023, around 300 big technology companies have laid off close to 100,000 workers. If layoffs continue at this rate, the technology industry could make just under 1 million cuts by the end of the year.

Layoffs can significantly impact an organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Layoffs can often result in a disproportionate impact on underrepresented groups, such as women and people of color, as they may be overrepresented in departments or roles targeted for elimination. Additionally, layoffs can create a culture of fear and uncertainty, making it harder for employees from marginalized communities to speak up and advocate for themselves and their ideas, which can further hinder the progress of DEI initiatives.

According to leadership IQ, 87% of surviving layoff workers say they are less likely to recommend their organization as a great organization to work for. Layoffs place a heavy burden on not just those who are directly laid off. It impacts the left behind employees who may experience remorse that they “survived” and their co-workers did not. This is referred to as survivor guilt. Learn 5 ways to cope with layoff guilt if you are now left to pick up the slack.

To reduce the detrimental impact that layoffs have on DEI, employers can implement strategies such as:

  • Incorporate DEI considerations into the layoff decision-making process
  • Offer assistance and resources to affected workers
  • Preserve DEI efforts and initiatives despite financial limitations and constraints

No one wants to be laid off, but it does hurt more when layoffs directly impact DEI efforts that have been put into place and worked hard for, especially over these last few years. According to Layoffs.FYI, which tracks tech industry cuts, an estimated 45% of those who lost their jobs in the recent wave of layoffs were women. To avoid tech layoffs influencing DEI, try to carefully decide how and whom to lay off instead of inadvertently targeting one underrepresented group.

The following are 5 layoff procedures for leaders to implement based on inclusivity and a sense of belonging:

  1. Approach with empathy
  2. Consider demographics when determining which roles to eliminate
  3. Create inclusive severance packages
  4. Avoid placing the burden on employees
  5. Don’t abandon your “survivors”

How Layoffs Affect Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (1)

According to resume builder, 6 in 10 companies will likely lay off employees in 2023. If your organization is one of those companies and you are part of the decision-making process for cutting jobs, keep your organization’s DEI efforts top of mind and your minority employees. 76% of job seekers and employees consider diversity and inclusion when sizing up potential employers. The employees who are left, and when it is time to hire again, prospective employees will respect your decisions.

If your organization has been impacted by the big technology layoffs or just layoffs in general, check out our other blogs to make sure your company is DEI-friendly.