And amid the budget cuts, Middleton worries about the long-term viability of diversity and inclusion efforts. “If DE&I experts have been disinvited to the table or disempowered, no-one owns the roll up of [those programs], and execution is often left to individuals’ managers,” she says.
‘A real storm’
Although the current layoffs situation is particularly problematic for workers of colour, experts say there are larger implications that affect everyone.
“The research is very clear: increased diversity in staff leads to increased innovation, resiliency and profitability,” says Tarr. Indeed, companies in the top 25% for racial and gender diversity are more likely to have stronger financial returns, according to a 2020 report by McKinsey & Company. And in a study on group performance, UK-based work-intelligence firm Cloverpop found that diverse teams outperform individuals about 87% of the time in business decision-making. Considering employee retention, research shows that employees in diverse and inclusive companies are 5.4 times as likely to stay for a longer tenure.