Why Diversity is a Smart Investment During a Recession

Onramp is excited to announce our acquisition of Edlyft’s Intern Development Program to strengthen our mission and extend our impact.

Layoffs at some of the most well known, and well funded, tech companies have caused company leaders to reckon with their goals, budgets, and programs as they try to maintain a sense of stability and momentum in volatile times. With the economy trending towards a recession, many leaders are wondering what programs and initiatives are essential, and where they can find opportunities to cut back. While DEI efforts may at first appear “unessential” to some, they actually are critical to maintaining, and strengthening, a workplace when times get tough. 

Over the past few years many companies have invested time, headcount, and budget in strategically supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. As a recession looms, staying committed or recommitting to DEI efforts is a way for companies to bolster team morale, center on their values, and continue to build a truly inclusive, resilient, workplace culture. In this post we explore three reasons why continuing to invest in diversity, equity, and inclusion is essential during an economic downturn. 

Diversity is always good for business

It’s a well documented fact that diverse teams are strong, productive teams. Dozens of studies have confirmed that diverse teams in inclusive work environments outperform more homogenous teams and are more likely to create innovative products. This is true whether the economy is strong or fumbling. In fact, having resilient, strong teams that are practiced in working through challenges and bringing in different points of view to find inventive solutions is even more important when times are tough.  

Center on your values

While economic fortunes, hiring plans, budgets, and product roadmaps may fluctuate, your company values should not. Tougher times are when a company’s values come into sharp focus and companies should take the time to double down and refocus on those values. If creating and sustaining a diverse and inclusive work environment is at the core of what you do, or if you aspire to make it so, now is the time to show it. You want employees, especially employees of color, to feel valued and not vulnerable or fearful that they are going to be singled out as a target for the next layoff. 

When the time comes to make tough decisions, whether it’s winding down or reorganizing programs, slowing down hiring, or layoffs, keep diversity, equity, and inclusion at the center of these conversations. While you may not be able to control outside economic forces, you can control how your company and team responds to them. Being guided by your values can help you make the best decision and avoid undoing the progress you have made towards a more equitable workplace. No matter what decision you make, you will be sending a clear message to employees and outside stakeholders about what your company values. 

Take care of your people 

Now is the time to show that your diversity efforts are genuine. Cutting programs, layoffs, and general economic uncertainty can wreak havoc on team morale. Continuing to invest in DEI can demonstrate to your employees, both people of color and allies, that your company continues to care about your team and their wellbeing. It also helps protect your employer brand and shows customers, peers, and competitors what you really value.

Continuing to invest in employee development, Employee Resource Groups, and apprenticeships and training programs, sends a strong message to your workforce about what you care about. It also gives employees something positive to focus on and builds team member skills and bonds. All of these contribute to a positive, inclusive workplace and strengthen your team — which is an asset when the economy picks up again and you need to hit the ground running.

While a recession can be a scary, uncertain time, within a business slowdown comes an unexpected opportunity: To define and focus on what your company values most. Use this time as a chance to connect and have substantial conversations about what really matters and how to put your values into practice.

If you’re interested in how an apprenticeship can be a cost-effective way to invest in employee development, boost morale, and sustain and strengthen your DEI efforts, reach out to us at Onramp. 

Written by
Onramp Team

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