As companies adjust their budgets to brace for a recession, employees and customers are keeping tabs on what does and doesn’t get cut, including equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) initiatives, says a University of Guelph organizational management researcher. 

Man in grey sweater, outdoor setting
Prof. Thomas Sasso

Thomas Sasso is a professor and EDI coordinator in the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics. His research in the Department of Management focuses on human resources, leadership and organizational management, and aims to improve the experiences of diverse and marginalized populations across industries and sectors.  

It’s important for organizations to implement and maintain EDI initiatives like intercultural competence training and mentorship programs, Sasso says. Those organizations “create safer and more supportive spaces for all employees and customers,” where employees can focus on their jobs rather than on confronting stereotypes, discrimination and harassment.  

If organizations “are quick to cut EDI roles and initiatives, they’re showing that inclusion is a conditional value and equity is performative. And employees and customers will remember,” he wrote recently in a Twitter thread

Organizations should “recession-proof” their EDI initiatives, he says. That can take many forms, including encouraging employees to add EDI practices and values into tasks, says Sasso. 

These organizations might build these initiatives into key performance indicators that reinforce EDI values and principles in employees’ work and that make leadership more likely to support practices, he adds. Companies might also better communicate their EDI successes through newsletters or social media messages, which further strengthens initiatives.  

Organizations with EDI efforts in place fare better during economic uncertainty than those without, notes Sasso, because they foster a respectful reputation and work environment that attracts employees. 

“When we diversify our workforces, we bring in employees with a greater range of skills and abilities, which better prepares us to adapt to whatever comes our way.”  

He is available for interviews. 

Prof. Thomas Sasso