Several tech companies had undertaken a hiring spree during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, with the pandemic’s continued impact on the economy, these same companies are now being forced to make tough decisions about their workforce, resulting in layoffs. While layoffs can be an extremely painful and difficult process (for both the employer and the employee), it is important that these companies don’t disproportionately affect employees from a diverse range of backgrounds.
Meanwhile, in the United States, a recent report by Revelio Labs shows that women and Latino workers were disproportionately affected by tech layoffs from September to December 2022. Specifically, women and Latino workers made up about 47% and 11% of tech layoffs during this period, respectively, despite comprising only about 39% and 10%, respectively, of the entire tech industry. This data indicates how diversity and inclusion are compromised during the layoff process, and disproportionately impact already marginalized groups.
However, it is important to note that we are here to talk about India
It’s important to recognize that India is a deeply diverse nation. With over 1.3 billion people and more than 2,000 ethnic groups, India is a country with a unique and complex cultural landscape. When discussing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in Indian workplaces, it’s important to keep this complexity in mind.
While we have heard the news of companies like Byju’s, Zomato, and Ola laying off employees in India, it raises the question of how these drastic changes will impact the diversity of the Indian workplace.
However, the impact of layoffs on the diversity of Indian workplaces is not yet fully understood due to a lack of data or information available on it. This requires more research and analysis to understand the true impact of layoffs on the diversity and inclusivity of Indian workplaces.
But before searching for a solution, it’s important to ask the “right” questions
Here are some questions that a company should consider before implementing layoffs to minimize the potential impact on their diversity and inclusivity:
- How is the company’s present status of diversity and inclusion, and what progress has been made in recent years?
- How will the layoffs be handled, and will employees from diverse backgrounds be disproportionately affected?
- Are there alternative cost-cutting measures that could be explored before resorting to layoffs, such as salary reduction or hiring freeze?
- Will employees from diverse backgrounds be given equal access to resources and opportunities to find new employment?
- How will the organisation ensure that the remaining workforce is diverse and inclusive, and that the layoffs do not have a detrimental influence on the company’s culture?
By considering these questions, companies can take proactive steps to ensure that their diversity and inclusivity efforts are not set back by the layoff process.
Ultimately, the key to embracing diversity through layoffs is by prioritizing fairness throughout the layoff process, companies can build a more resilient and supportive workplace culture that benefits everyone.
Crosby, E. (2022, July). Don’t Let Layoffs Undermine Your DEI Efforts. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2022/07/dont-let-layoffs-undermine-your-dei-efforts
India Today Tech. (2023, January 17). Layoffs at Amazon, Twitter, Ola and more: 91 tech companies fired over 24,000 employees in 2023. India Today. https://www.indiatoday.in/technology/news/story/layoffs-at-amazon-twitter-ola-and-more-91-tech-companies-fired-over-24000-employees-in-2023-2322605-2023-01-17
Marr, B. (2023, January 30). The Real Reasons For Big Tech Layoffs at Google, Microsoft, Meta and Amazon. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2023/01/30/the-real-reasons-for-big-tech-layoffs-at-google-microsoft-meta-and-amazon/?sh=f70d34c2b67d
Reuters. (2023, January 5). Big tech layoffs may further disrupt equity, diversity efforts. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/big-tech-layoffs-may-further-disrupt-equity-diversity-efforts-2023-01-05/
About the author:
Ms. Neelanjana Bhattacharjee is an Organisational Psychologist at FriendsSquare (India’s first Organisational Psychology firm). She has pursued her under graduation as well as post graduation in the field of Applied Psychology from Amity University, Kolkata. She is on a lifelong quest to understand work behaviour and has a keen interest in understanding the factors that contribute towards employee well-being.