This is the weekly Careers newsletter.
Déjà Leonard is a copywriter and freelance journalist based in Calgary.
Marginalized employees are being overly impacted by recent layoffs in the tech industry, according to new data.
Revelio Labs, a startup that analyzed U.S. data from tech layoff tracker Layoffs.fyi and talent database Parachute List by Rocket, shows that cuts in the tech industry have disproportionately affected women and racialized talent.
Women and Latino workers, who make up 39.09 per cent and 9.96 per cent of the industry, made up 46.64 per cent and 11.49 per cent of those laid off between September and December, according to Reuters’s report of the Revelio Labs data.
There are a few reasons why this might be.
Dr. Sarah Saska, chief executive of Toronto-based diversity, equity and inclusion consulting firm Feminuity, said one reason is that many companies are using a “last in, first out” approach, which means they lay off newer employees.
“If an organization has been working – as many have been in the last few years – to be far more intentional about recruiting a diversity of people to their organization, then that could likely mean that they’re firing someone who’s racialized or a gender minority,” she said.
Dr. Saska said that many companies are also reducing their contractors first, many of which come from marginalized groups.
Netflix, for example, faced backlash after layoffs in which many of the people affected were marginalized contractors who were working on content aimed at underrepresented audiences.
So, can layoffs ever be equitable? In other words, can they be done with fairness and justice in mind?
Dr. Saska said there are a few measures companies should look at before considering layoffs: “Could they look at pausing bonuses, or enact a hiring or wage freeze?” Cost-cutting measures such as reducing executive pay should also be considered, she added.
If companies do get to the point where layoffs are the only option, “embed DEI into the process” she said: When making tough decisions on budget cuts, consider who is in the room and who will be most affected by those decisions.
Dr. Saska also said layoffs should be done with empathy.
“Really try to think of the end-to-end process and make it a bit easier for people all around,” she said. “I think it goes a long way to simply check in with people.”
Companies should consider how they communicate layoffs and make sure their approach is accessible to everyone in the organization with varied abilities.
For example, companies can make sure they communicate in multiple formats – verbally, and in written communication – so everyone has the information they need at the same time.
They can also look at how to make the process as simple as possible for hybrid workers, or workers with limited mobility, to return equipment.
While current stats show layoffs are affecting marginalized communities more than others, Dr. Saska said more people are becoming aware of the issue.
“I’m excited that at least people are considering the DEI implications around layoffs.”
What I’m reading around the web
- In the face of mass layoffs in the tech industry, workers are wondering why they were chosen to leave. The Washington Post reports on a survey of 300 HR leaders at U.S. companies that reveals 98 per cent of companies have used software and algorithms to help them make layoff decisions this year.
- A few years ago, Mexico’s Christopher Gomez didn’t know what skiing was. Now, he’s competing at the International Biathlon Union Cup with some of the world’s top competitors. In this CBC article, read about his journey and how he and his teammate, Raul Antonio Figueroa, are encouraging more athletes to get involved and see Mexico in a different way.
- Do you get anxiety when you go on vacation, or try to “protect” your team from unpleasant workplace dynamics? From Harvard Business Review, here’s how you can begin to find better balance between supporting your team, and giving them autonomy to do their best work – no matter your leadership level or team size.
- Companies such as Disney, Twitter and KPMG are pulling back on workplace flexibility, and asking employees to return to the office. This may be showing a shift in power dynamics. As reported by BBC, employees, who were able to bargain for flexibility in the past few years, are now seeing companies enforce new working practices amid economic uncertainty.
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