Tokenism: How can HR foster genuine diversity and inclusion?

by | Jun 29, 2023

DE&I | Employee Experience and Engagement | Workplace and wellbeing
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Tokenism: How can HR foster genuine diversity and inclusion?

In the latest episode of our HR on the Offensive podcast, host Chris introduces the topic of tokenism and welcomes fellow LACEr, Bosede Adekola and guests from the Clear Company, Corinne Crosbourne and Maria Baggio, to discuss this important issue. Bosede shares her background and why she thought it was worth discussing. She explains that her interest in the topic stemmed from her previous experience in an organisation where impostor syndrome was common among minority employees. She believes it is crucial to address these concerns and support organisations facing similar challenges. 

How can tokenism affect individuals’ sense of belonging and inclusion within an organisation?  

Maria explains that tokenism can create an unsustainable cycle, where people feel their opportunities are only a result of diversity initiatives and fear losing those opportunities when the strategies fade away. Sustainable DE&I strategies should focus on transparent communication, explaining the rationale behind diversity initiatives and ensuring clear processes are in place. 

Do organisation’s need to be more transparent with their DE&I strategies?

Organisations should avoid labelling specific groups and instead provide a comprehensive overview of their initiatives to address perceptions of tokenism from both the affected individuals and others in the organisation. 

What are the negative impacts of tokenism?

Two significant impacts are reduced morale and a negative perception of DE&I efforts. Our discussion highlights the need for leadership to have the language and understanding to discuss DE&I effectively. Corinne also suggests that educating leaders about the legal distinctions between positive discrimination and positive action can help combat tokenism and foster a more inclusive culture. 

Listen now to learn how you can address tokenism and how to avoid its detrimental effects on individuals and organisations. 

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