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8. The Death of DEI
  • Writer's pictureAntonio Da Veiga Rocha

Quiet Quitting and the DEI Connection

I will confess that before a few years ago the term Quite Quitting was not something I had heard of. Work-to-Rule yes and other terms like Rule-Book Slowdown and even Acting Your Wage. These were terms I had been familiar with, mostly through my years of working as a worker’s representative. But yet, here we are, another popularized term for a practice that is as old as work itself.

What is Quite Quitting?

For those of you who are even further behind than I was, Quite Quitting is when an employee only engages in work that is specified in their work description. That includes starting and ending the workday at the contractually stated time, tending only to specifically assign tasks, not engaging in any extra duties. I think you get the picture.

I have always found that the term Acting Your Wage better describes this practice, a practice where one is essentially doing only what one is paid for, while making it hard for an employer to fire you for ‘not doing your job’. Quiet quitting is the contemporary worker’s way of communicating dissatisfaction with their job’s status quo.

As Old as Work Itself.

Now, if you are around my age level, which I will put in the middle field of one’s life expectancy, such characteristics won’t be much of a surprise to you. We have seen, or even been actors of, such plays. At times you may have played the protagonist, sometimes simply a supporting role. Your choice likely motivated by many different reasons, but the underlying motivator was probably discontentment, whether with you, your life, your personal circles, or most likely, your workplace.

It is our experience that majority of quiet quitting efforts are responses to areas Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion concerns itself with. This, as you can infer, is of particular interest to us. When we carry out our Work Environment Surveys (WES) something becomes quite clear; individuals that feel included, work in diversified working environments, and find the efforts of their company’s leadership to be fair, are less likely to ‘work their wage’. Could this mean that the answer to solving such workers’ protests is simply the introduction and practice of DEI fundamentals? Maybe!

Dissatisfaction, a Breakdown.

Most workers’ dissatisfaction stems from the areas mentioned above. Workspaces that don’t reflect the worker’s social needs or take them into account. Spaces that are homogenous in output and concern, spaces that feel hidden in organization and structural make up. Spaces that create a uniformity that dismiss individual needs. Spaces that continuously communicate to the worker that they are expendable, simply a tool that can be replaced.

In study this a compendium of concerns that occupy the spaces of DEI. The lack of diversity in a worksite, lack of transparency and involvement in the work structure, lack of specific attention to the individual’s out of work social living dynamics, inequitable workplace social subtleties, etc.

I cannot count the number of times I have seen and experienced colleagues, mostly black and brown workers and women, speak to this matrix. I myself have experienced them on multiple occasions. Often questioning my own experiences and attributing them to oversensitivity. This was a time when I didn't know more deeply how the currents of privilege, racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, and others forms of peripheralizing others, directly motivates and initiates negative and dismissive behaviors that create and perpetuate toxic workplaces. They have been the main reasons for why I have left some companies and the opposite environments why I have stayed.

Choices Can be Made

In the face of such information, choices can and are being made. What we are experiencing after the great resignation in the Covid years, is the great Quite Quitting wave (which is already being pressured as we're stepping into the Quite Remorse phase, but that’s for another blogpost).

Workers have come to understand that the possible shift of workspace dynamics, one that would attend more to the worker the company employed than to the product the company made, is not really going to happen right now. The initial sense was that after so many years of product focus, attention on employee concerns was finally being centered. But this was short lived. The overwhelming backlash that remote working has received is just one example. The scream for change those workers activated, one that communicated that the current model is really being sustained by force not by will, has yet again been subdued. So, what’s to be done?

Be the Difference

Move against immediate comfort and work towards long-term sustainable practices. As managers, directors, CEO, leaders of workforce culture, do not ignore the overwhelming call for change, the call to replace or at least at a minimal, adjust the current model. You can start by doing a WCS (Work Culture Survey) and begin to understand the social work currents that flow through your company. Such a thing comes under the DEI umbrella, along with tools to work with whatever answers your received from such surveys.


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