Something else to be careful of...
‘Diversity dishonesty’ is the toxic workplace trend we’re not talking about enough
Diversity dishonesty is where a company or organisation works hard to look like they are invested in diversity, without making the internal changes to support their diverse employees.
When people hear the word ‘diversity
’, it can prompt mixed responses. For countless people of colour, it represents a longstanding desire to be represented in spaces where we deserve to be seen and heard. For some others, it’s another politically correct buzzword
, which has risen in popularity over the last decade and is seen as a nuisance more than a necessity. Back in 2015, writer Anna Holmes
posed the question of whether ‘diversity
’ had lost its meaning, asking: “How does [diversity] go from communicating something idealistic to something cynical and suspect?”
Holmes’ question spotlights how the word has been overused, exaggerated and at times, demonised over the years – so much so that the mere mention of it in some circles will result in nothing more than a sigh and an exasperated eye roll.
But at the root of it all, the underrepresentation of people of colour across various sectors and industries is a very real issue that many still have to deal with today – but one they rarely feel safe enough to address. A 2021 poll by culture change organisation Right Track Learning
found less than half of people felt comfortable talking openly about diversity
and inclusion at work
Organisations that aim to convey that they are diverse and inclusive will focus on things that are public-facing
in 2022 found that one in five (20%) employees didn’t think their current company was an inclusive place to work, highlighting how a lack of diversity
continues to permeate the UK. In fact, a 2021 report by Savanta’s Diversity & Inclusion team showed that 42% of Black employees
had resigned from their job citing a lack of workplace diversity and inclusion.
While underwhelming diversity in the workplace
is something numerous people experience, there’s a rising trend of businesses and organisations appearing to be more diverse than they actually are – something that has been dubbed ‘diversity dishonesty’.
“Diversity dishonesty is a company or organisation working hard to give the appearance that they are invested in diversity, but not making the internal changes to support diverse people in the organisation,” says Tricia Callender
, PhD, head of diversity, equity and inclusion at Thinx Inc.
“It’s hiring a ton of diverse people, putting diverse people on company photographs and advertising assets, but not valuing them in the organisation and then gaslighting
when the issue is raised.”
It’s taking performativity and virtue signalling to a whole other level.