At the end of 2022, big tech and advertising agencies saw a rise in layoffs as companies prepared themselves for the incoming recession. Now two months into the new year, major companies are continuing staff layoffs in 2023 – endangering their DE&I efforts and promises.
In January, multiple companies started the year by announcing their layoffs.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a statement that the company would be reducing their staff by 12,000.
“Over the past two years we’ve seen periods of dramatic growth. To match and fuel that growth, we hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today,” He wrote in his statement.
He continued, “As an almost 25-year-old company, we’re bound to go through difficult economic cycles. These are important moments to sharpen our focus, reengineer our cost base, and direct our talent and capital to our highest priorities.”
Microsoft also released their own statement on downsizing by 10,000.
“We’re living through times of significant change, and as I meet with customers and partners, a few things are clear,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a release. “First, as we saw customers accelerate their digital spend during the pandemic, we’re now seeing them optimize their digital spend to do more with less.”
He continued, “We’re also seeing organizations in every industry and geography exercise caution as some parts of the world are in a recession and other parts are anticipating one.”
They weren’t alone as Amazon decreased their workforce early this year. After a layoff in November, further evaluation led to an early employee reduction totaling 18,000 – the highest out of all three.
“Several teams are impacted; however, the majority of role eliminations are in our Amazon Stores and PXT organizations,” Amazon CEO Andy Jassy wrote in a statement. “S-team and I are deeply aware that these role eliminations are difficult for people, and we don’t take these decisions lightly or underestimate how much they might affect the lives of those who are impacted.”
Companies in the media industry weren’t safe, either. That same month, NBC News and MSNBC released that major changes would be coming.
Not only did the media company layoff more than 70 workers but NBC News President Noah Oppenheim also stepped down. Rather than someone replacing him, his position was absorbed and his duties were divided among three senior-level women employees.
Earlier this month, news came of more layoffs as the advertising industry felt the pressure.
Basis, the largest company in the industry, let go of 40 sales and service employees – 4 percent of their workforce. After EMX Digital’s holding company Big Village filed for bankruptcy, the agency laid off almost 100 workers – something most of its staff didn’t expect after a previous round from 2022.
Yahoo also made its big cut announcement earlier this month. The company said it would lay off 20% of its staff. Half of its adtech employees – 1,6000 workers – were also laid off.
These changes come two years after many of these companies made DE&I promises and efforts. According to LinkedIn, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO) roles had a 169 percent job growth since 2019. It was also the fastest growing position out of all the c-suite roles from 2020 to 2021.
After the murder of George Floyd in 2020, the public put pressure on companies to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Places like Google, Amazon, and more made promises and oaths for racial equity in their higher-level offices and representation at the table.
However, the strides that companies have made are now in danger of being pushed back. According to LinkedIn, CDIO roles dropped almost 5 percent last year as companies began the process of laying off employees and shrinking their teams.
As companies look at the pennies and seek to cut what they believe are unnecessary positions, it’s important to remember the gains professionals of color have made in the workplace. To keep their progress and promises, companies need to remember the demographics that they’re effecting with their cuts as well as the purpose and meaning of the roles they’re absorbing.