Equity and diversity tax

Ever heard of “diversity tax”? 

Interesting discussion on “Exploring #Equity” last night during the last of a series of three #diversity and #inclusion Symposium sessions by Cornell University

Diversity tax is arguably that which drives people from historically underrepresented or marginalised groups to constantly give more than what the job may expect of everyone. This operates within a psychological framing where what they do may never be good enough or match that of what those belonging from privileged groups put in. 

In the context of pay, this can come in the form of extra remuneration that one receives for an additional responsibility that one takes on but no more than a label of a growth opportunity or a stretch assignment when another is entrusted with it. In parallel, in terms of incentives, what may have taken someone of racial privilege half the effort to achieve had cost someone from a minority group double the hard work. This constant conscious or subconscious proving game, unless justly incentivised, eventually burns staff out and depletes their psychological energy stores. 

Click for source

This concept of #diversitytax is legitimised by how organisations may fail to appreciate each person’s unique circumstances. May this be in terms of culture, educational background, socio-economic profile or perceived quality of relevant experience. It pushes up the diversity tax when organisations employ a blanket or neutral approach to staff #engagement. Equity in this regard dictates an individualised internalisation of one’s competencies vis-a-vis the requirements of the job. And where gaps surface, equity offers additional support provisions that enable a person to advance in the same direction as the rest. 

In a number of organisations though, staff input (what a staff gives) is perceived to be more than organisational output (what the organisation gives back in return). And this equation becomes more skewed when the staff involved comes from an underrepresented or marginalised group. Not only does the staff have to wrestle with a discrepancy in input-output ratio, he/she/they also have to unnecessarily work harder to bring himself/herself/themselves on an even platform as peers from privileged backgrounds. 

Status quo, indeed, presents opportunities to break barriers to #equity. Unless organisations are able to create an inclusive climate for people to be valued and make an impact in their own skin, staff engagement may fail to demonstrate ideal behaviours for optimal performance. In fact, engagement in itself may break down unless a staff experiences strong psychological safety (“I am valued for who I am and can speak up without fear of retribution.”), psychological availability (“I am determined to give my best and pursue opportunities to develop myself further.”) and psychological meaningfulness (“I find what I do truly purposive and fulfilling.”). This experience, however, cannot just be of one; it needs to be collective or shared. #dei #edi

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s