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Symptoms of Burnout for DEI Practitioners

Given the heightened level of stress we've experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it's no wonder people across all jobs and industries are experiencing burnout.

But what does that look like for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Practitioners?

From May to July 2021, I conducted a 3-phase qualitative study to explore the experiences of DEI practitioners and those working in the diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, justice, and belonging space. I explored experiences with burnout, compassion fatigue, microaggressions, and discrimination.

Based on the experiences of almost 300 DEI practitioners (located across the world), I noticed that the work environment and experiences were similar among all practitioners. Here's what I've noticed.

  • Companies place unrealistic expectations on DEI practitioners (whether you're a DEI consultant or working internally at a company). The expectation is that everyone working in DEI should be an expert in all things DEI. Despite the reality that DEI is a very broad field and being an expert in this space is unrealistic, participants still placed that unrealistic burden on themselves.

  • DEI practitioners look at things through our passion-stained glasses. Because most of us are passionate about creating equitable access and dismantling systemic oppression. We use that hope and vigor to motivate us to keep going because "who else will" and "this is what I'm passionate about."

  • There's this subconscious misconception that if you aren't constantly talking about DEI, keeping up with the latest hot topics, posting five days a week about every news event, or celebrating all heritage months, you're not a true DEI expert.

These things are very subtle and contribute to the burnout, so many practitioners in the field are experiencing. Here are some common signs you might be experiencing burnout as a DEI practitioner, based on my own experience and the experiences of the DEI practitioners in my study.

  1. Low self-worth (Constantly doubting your competence and if you're qualified to do this work)

  2. Disdain for DEI work (Not enjoying working in DEI as much as you used to)

  3. Wanting to leave DEI completely (Contemplating quitting your job and transitioning out of the DEI field)

  4. Withdrawn from personal relationships (Spending less time with friends and family members to avoid having conversations about DEI-related topics)

  5. Hopelessness (feeling like the work you do isn't meaningful or bringing about any change)

Burnout is one of the main things we aim to tackle in DEI Offload™. There are licensed therapists to facilitate monthly wellness sessions and workshops around this and other mental health topics. Learn more here.

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