Diversity fatigue is a term that first emerged in the 1990s when equal opportunity became a major initiative among corporations. According to a 2017 article in The New Yorker, “The Year in ‘Diversity Fatigue,’” the term was used to describe the feelings of stress and exhaustion associated with trying to recruit talent from diverse pools and create opportunities for more diversity within companies.
Over time, the term was co-opted to describe many different situations. These situations were as wide-ranging as resistance against political correctness, feelings of being overwhelmed by the amount of work left to be done around diversity, and general disappointment in a phenomenon of “all talk, no action.”
Today, diversity fatigue is often used to describe all of the above, but it is most clearly associated with the amount of energy, time and resources it takes to solve complex problems around diversity, equity and inclusion, which makes it harder to stay committed to initiatives in the long term.
As diversity, equity and inclusion have become hot topics across U.S.-based and global companies alike, diversity fatigue has emerged as perhaps the most often-cited opponent of progress, with more and more leaders looking for ways to combat it.
This story was originally published in the January/February issue of Chief Learning Officer as a sidebar to “Experimental Learning Through Cultural Immersion.”