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From Burnout To Breakthrough At Work: Overcoming Inclusion Fatigue

Everyone gets affected by inclusion fatigue.

How often do you take time to reconnect with the “why” behind your efforts that may seem to take you nowhere?

A few months ago, I came across a new term: inclusion fatigue. Many people believe it references old, white men who are bored, seemingly fatigued, by all the diversity chat (an activist appears on television and their reaction goes along the lines of “ah… this again”). That is definitely fatigue.

Then there’s those who sit on the fence, who do not dismiss inclusion entirely, but who are starting to get cold feet with the inclusion efforts. They are the people who prioritise other things above inclusion, like economic factors and the cost-of-living crisis.

But inclusion fatigue also references those who have been standing up to injustice and exclusion their whole lives, and who are tired of the slow pace and lack of real change.

It is a tough challenge for those who stand up constantly for inclusion.

It takes a toll on those who have been excluded their entire lives, who have felt the impact of inclusion, and for that reason cannot turn the dial down on their efforts fighting for it.

They are part of communities which have fought for equal rights, freedoms and progress for years. They want to promote it everywhere, but they feel burned out at the same time. Every time a major protest has taken place, those that have brought different communities together, there has also been major backlash halting progress.

For example, the 1960s Civil Rights protests were met with strong conservative policies that limited real long-term change.

In Britain, after Stephen Lawrence’s murder, hopes for better treatment of Black communities were muted by conservative politics. Now, the government is taking an anti-inclusion stance especially in regards to immigration. It is shutting out different communities of people from the conversation.

Those who stand up repeatedly for inclusion are tired of history repeating itself.

This week, the brutal racially motivated assault on Raph Yarl in the United States raised questions over what has actually changed since the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests?

Real change has taken place, just not on a major scale.

There are definitely some positives takeaways to take from large protests to do with inclusion.

They have motivated lots of people to get behind certain movements, share new information, and even improve their environments. Across multiple industries, we are seeing leading figures take change into their own hands by standing up to discrimination and raising important awareness.

In sports, so many players have joined a united movement to raise awareness around racial discrimination.

In businesses, we are seeing people gain confidence over time to improve their relationships with their colleagues and together create a more inclusive space. They aim for anyone to be able to walk through the door and feel safe.

Even in the most corporate of sectors, like finance, we observe massive global banks take the lead in inclusion. With a more inclusive lens to finding young talent across the world, they are also adopting progressive initiatives like putting minority figures in more leadership-oriented positions.


Where’s the problem?

Despite progress being taken in individual companies or organisations, there is a growing large-scale mood which is showing how everyone is becoming fatigued by having the same “diversity and inclusion” conversations.

With opponents to inclusion grasping this, there is a major threat to inclusive initiatives looming in the near future.

For the people who have been trying for so long to be heard in organisations, who preach inclusion, it would be disastrous for inclusion to lose steam. We are currently seeing a trend in decreasing support for inclusive projects across businesses.

As they try to cut costs in the challenging economic climate, one of the first departments to be hit is the diversity and inclusion one.

It is clear that it is impossible to build truly inclusive environments without a broad alliance of effort behind them.

We have to keep the conversations about inclusion positive.

This is imperative. Having positive conversations around inclusion will lead to greater motivation, excitement, and effort, and hopefully avoid the feeling of fatigue.

When we feel something close to inclusion fatigue, it is important to remember the progress that has been made and continues to be made. It is crucial to reconnect with the purpose. Only then can positivity shine through in our actions.

Records are being broken for the more inclusive workspaces. Older generations are seeing diversity and inclusion become important topics; in a way that they hadn’t imagined might be possible in their lifetime. We are starting to see different people stand up for others who come from different backgrounds.

Let’s remember what we’ve achieved so far.  It is not the time to lose determination. Whether it’s in a personal, political, or business landscape, everyone needs to keep the positivity alive and the purpose burning.

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