Why Tokenism Won’t Solve Your DEI Issues

Recruiting the right person for the right job is a business imperative that companies can’t afford to get wrong. The search for new talent must be conducted to make people feel valued and respected and create a sense of inclusion across the employee lifecycle.

Tokenism is when a company hires or promotes someone from an underrepresented group to make it appear that the organization values diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

“There’s a reason why DEI isn’t just diversity, it’s equity and inclusion. Tokenism doesn’t address DEI in its totality,” says Esther Uduehi, Assistant Professor of Marketing and International Business at the University of Washington-Seattle and member of the PhD Project. “Organizations need to focus on what it means to feel included. You can bring in candidates that speak to the type of diversity the firm wants, but if they don’t feel included, they don’t feel like they belong. That will only be a short-term solution to a long-term issue.”

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