What’s the Cost: The Impact of Mental Health on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace
Mental health is a critical issue in the workplace. According to the American Psychiatric Association, one in five adults in the United States experiences mental illness each year. Mental health conditions can have a significant impact on work performance, productivity, and relationships. When mental health is neglected or not addressed in the workplace, it can lead to an environment of inequity, exclusion, and discrimination. Mental health is closely linked to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). Employees from diverse backgrounds may face unique challenges that can impact their mental health, such as discrimination, microaggressions, and a lack of representation. As a result, it’s important for employers to understand the connection between mental health and DE&I, and to take steps to create a more inclusive workplace for all employees. In this blog, we’ll explore the ways in which employers can place a greater focus on mental health and well-being in order to foster a healthier, more inclusive work environment.
Creating a shared understanding
As we start to introduce conversations around DE&I into the workplace, it’s important to establish a shared understanding around what these terms mean. By utilizing a shared language, we start to build a culture in the workplace that assists in making these efforts more successful. These terms are the fundamentals of diversity work.
The impact of mental health on DE&I
There are a number of ways in which mental health can impact DE&I in the workplace. For example, employees from diverse backgrounds may be more likely to experience discrimination and microaggressions, which can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. Mental health issues, which can impact any demographic, can be a significant obstacle in the workplace and can greatly diminish an employee’s potential for productivity. Stress, anxiety, and depression can affect not only an individual’s performance at work but also their overall morale and well-being.
Mental health burdens can limit an individual’s success. Employees with anxiety may have difficulty focusing, difficulty managing time and tasks, and trouble concentrating or making decisions. Employees with depression may have decreased motivation or energy levels, sleeping difficulties or disturbances, feelings of hopelessness, and difficulty completing tasks. And, employees with other mental illnesses may have impaired decision-making skills, difficulty interacting with others, or difficulty managing their time. Therefore, it is absolutely critical that employers recognize the importance of addressing mental health concerns in the workplace to ensure a safe and productive environment for all their employees. By recognizing the importance of addressing mental health issues in the workplace and creating an environment that is conducive to mental wellness for all employees, employers can foster increased employee engagement and productivity.
How law firm leaders can create a more inclusive workplace
There are a number of things that employers can do to create a more inclusive workplace for employees with mental health conditions. It is important for law firms to offer employees support, resources, and the opportunity to provide feedback on how their experiences could be improved. Some of these options include:
Law firms should include mental health initiatives in their DE&I strategies, such as providing educational resources about mental wellness and offering a list of resources to their team members. It is essential that employers recognize the importance of not only promoting diversity but also fostering an environment where every individual feels safe, valued, respected, and heard. By making these changes in the workplace, law firm leaders will be able to create a more supportive atmosphere for all their teams and promote an atmosphere of acceptance that allows everyone to thrive.
If your organization does not have a DE&I strategy, it’s never too late to create one! I encourage you to seek out the expertise of Diversity professionals. Additionally, work with your Human Resources or leadership teams to review and build out what is needed to support your team members. There are several ways an organization’s leadership can do this, many of which are low cost and high impact. Put your team first and the organization will thrive.
About Ciera Parks:
Ciera Parks is a Human Resources Executive with 15 years of experience working in higher education, manufacturing, nonprofits, cannabis, e-commerce, and technology. She is the owner of CWC HR Solutions & Training. Ciera advises and partners with businesses on their HR needs to develop strategies that improve workplace culture through customized alignment and training. She has a proven track record of success in developing people strategies that drive performance, improve efficiency, and increase profitability. On top of this, Ciera is well-versed in building effective organizational structures and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) topics.
Ciera’s professional accomplishments in the human resources field include a Master’s Degree in Human Resources Development and a Certification from the Society for Human Resources Management. Ciera has also been elected as The Community Involvement Director and Professional Development Chair for two of Amazon’s employee resource groups (ERGs), been selected as the Director for Diversity & Inclusion by CHRA, and is the President of neXco’s National Cannabis Chapter. These honors are a result of her commitment to leadership and skill development for all workforce populations.