Leaders Suffering From Diversity Fatigue

by | Feb 15, 2024 | DEI Executive Coaching | 0 comments

The burnout leaders suffer from diversity fatigue.

Diversity fatigue is the exhaustion, frustration, and isolation people feel when they actively attempt to build D&I in your organization, yet see minimal results.

The Signs

As organizations prioritize diversity and inclusion (D&I), some concerning phrases from CEOs and executives suggest diversity fatigue is setting in:

  • “We need to be very careful about how we approach this D&I work.”
    This shows excessive caution, likely rooted in fear.
  • “We tried D&I initiatives, but they didn’t work.”
    This dismisses D&I’s importance. It shows lack of patience.
  • “We still have D&I work to do.”
    This acknowledges need for progress but lacks conviction.
  • “Our employee resource groups handle D&I themselves.”
    A hands-off approach. D&I isn’t integrated into the culture.
  • “Our CHRO will set the D&I strategy.”
    Deferring responsibility shows lack of true leadership commitment.
  • “I’m concerned this could open up a can of worms we can’t control.”
    Another fear-based statement resisting positive disruption.

The Fear Factor

Many executives fear unknown D&I topics.
They worry about saying the wrong thing or causing offense.
This fear can lead to complete avoidance of hard conversations.

Others are conflict-avoidant on D&I issues.
They maintain the status quo to avoid disruption.
Statements like “Initiatives didn’t work” avoid examining real challenges.


The Path Forward

To progress, leaders can first acknowledge the extraordinary work done by a lone colleague. It is often the “diverse” person in the group who is carrying the D&I agenda for the entire leadership team.

Then executives can regularly demonstrate Acts of Inclusion.

They can bring data rather than kindness, data shows results.  Which to leaders want?

Overcoming fear and conflict-avoidance reinvigorates stalled D&I efforts.

If leadership is fatigued, consider how exhausted minority employees feel constantly maneuvering leaders’ discomfort and lack of commitment to real change. Their experiences demand executives renew their energy for D&I.

Inclusive Matters:  Turn your D&I efforts into measurable business results.


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