High Turnover in Diversity Roles is a Reflection of Unrealistic Expectations

Diversity roles, specifically diversity and inclusion managers, have been the second fastest growing job title in the last five years according to LinkedIn. Yet, these positions are also experiencing a high turnover as many small- and high-profile businesses can attest to. Nike, one of the most visible in this trend of diversity roles jumping ship, just lost its most recent DEI executive hire after only six months on the job.

Is this because businesses over-emphasized the position after a wave of 2020 protests, social movements, and pressure on corporations to be more vocally progressive on social justice issues? Or was it always unrealistic to expect one hire alone to enhance company culture? President of Employers Advantage LLC, Deanna Baumgardner, reflects on her companies’ findings and emphasizes that, overall, companies’ expectations for this role have not been properly defined to be effective and keep hires engaged.

Deanna’s Thoughts

“It’s unfortunate, but it’s also not surprising that there’s an uptick in turnover in diversity roles right now. I think that there was a huge push by a lot of companies thinking this is what they needed to do, so they threw out some diversity job descriptions, and one of the things that we saw in some of the postings for diversity officers was it was a ‘mishmosh’ of a bunch of different stuff that really didn’t focus on the core of what needed to happen in that role.

The other thing is, again, it’s not something that happens overnight. It’s a complete shift in culture and there is a lot of learning and analysis and implementation and things that happen before a true culture, diversity, equity, and inclusion can even begin to happen. So, this isn’t something that a company can hire a person for, put in this role and then make it happen.

That’s just not how it works. It takes a lot of time, effort, and resources on behalf of everyone in the organization.”

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