How to reduce the ‘emotional tax’ underrepresented employees pay at work – Fortune

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Underrepresented employees pay a high emotional tax at work, and LGBTQ and trans employees cough up the highest premium.
New research from Catalyst, a nonprofit focused on advancing women in the workplace, finds that underrepresented employees are more likely to feel like they’re always “on guard” at work—and it’s a global problem that HR leaders must contend with as companies become more geographically dispersed. 
Sheila Brassel, director of research at Catalyst and one of the report’s authors, defines being on guard as the need to brace oneself against potential bias from colleagues, noting that it hurts employee well-being and their ability to thrive in the office.
Despite growing commitments to support non-majority communities, 61% of surveyed workers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, the U.K., and the U.S. say they often feel on guard, according to Catalyst’s survey of over 3,000 global professionals.
“People can fall into the trap that racism is something that happens somewhere else. But the data show us that around the globe, the majority of employees from marginalized racial and ethnic groups are under a near-constant threat of bias,” says Brassel. 
LGBTQ employees report being on guard at much higher rates than their marginalized heterosexual peers. Eighty-five percent of trans and nonbinary employees report being on guard at work compared to 74% for all LGBTQ workers. The figure is higher for trans and nonbinary employees from racially and ethnically underrepresented backgrounds. Brassel says these findings underscore the need for leaders to recognize intersectionality in representation. 
“When we see how LGBTQ employees of marginalized ethnic groups are facing racism, heterosexism, and other forms of discrimination, we know that there’s a potential for harm,” she says. “It’s so important for inclusion efforts to take an intersectional lens and embrace that degree of nuance. There are similarities in these experiences, but there are also very important differences.” 
Building psychological safety and increasing racial and ethnic diversity are the most effective ways to decrease the emotional tax. Catalyst’s research finds that employees from marginalized groups are less likely to be on guard when teams are diverse.
Fostering psychological safety, Brassel says, requires that leaders authentically communicate with their team and share their growth, learnings, and expectation that employees model similar behavior.
Amber Burton
The most compelling data, quotes, and insights from the field.
“Accountability” is the word du jour this week. Mark Zuckerberg is the latest founder to admit failing to read the writing on the wall, which led to mass layoffs. Here’s what he told employees yesterday:
“At the start of COVID, the world rapidly moved online and the surge of e-commerce led to outsized revenue growth. Many people predicted this would be a permanent acceleration that would continue even after the pandemic ended. I did too, so I made the decision to significantly increase our investments. Unfortunately, this did not play out the way I expected.”
– Meta announced layoffs of about 11,000 employees on Wednesday, 13% percent of the workforce, after CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted he misforecasted post-pandemic habits. New York Times
– The estimated average amount Americans need to retire has nearly tripled, meaning many older employees will have to work longer than anticipated. Insider
– Long COVID can be unpredictable, making it especially difficult for employers to plan for its workplace effects. Listen time: 16 minutes. Financial Times 
– In 2019, cities were fawning over Amazon in a bid to win rights for its new offices. Now, state-of-the-art offices seem like a thing of the past. Protocol
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Budget cuts. Companies are slashing costs across departments to prepare for an economic downturn. But talent, surprisingly, isn't the first to go. —Paolo Confino
Curious Georgina. Curiosity—a desired leadership trait—is recognized and valued more in men than women, according to a study published in ScienceDirect. Women are expected to be naturally curious and get less credit for it as a result. —Chloe Taylor
Check your spam. After back-to-back vacations this summer, Fortune’s L’Oreal Thompson Payton deleted 1,321 unread work emails. When they disappeared, so did all the correlated anxiety. —L’Oreal Thompson Payton 
Mindfulness works. A first-of-its-kind study published Wednesday suggests mindfulness could be just as effective as medication in reducing anxiety. It's a signal that workplace focus on mindfulness could benefit employees. —Lindsey Tanner
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