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Assessing burnout in diversity and inclusion professionals

Andrea Pemberton (TYPROS, Tulsa Regional Chamber, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA)
Jennifer Kisamore (Department of Psychology (Organizational Dynamics), Schusterman Center, University of Oklahoma, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 9 August 2022

Issue publication date: 3 February 2023




Burnout has been linked to a myriad of negative organizational and individual health outcomes which threaten employee and organizational well-being. This study examines how unique features of diversity and inclusion (D&I) work are related to burnout.


Participants were recruited using network and convenience sampling strategies. A total of 64 full-time employees whose primary responsibility is to implement the D&I strategy for their organization provided useable data for analysis. Participants completed measures of burnout, role ambiguity, role conflict, subjective experiences of tokenism, and top management support. Measures were administered online via Qualtrics.


Results suggest lack of clear job duties, conflicting job demands, lack of top management support, and experiences of tokenism are associated with D&I professionals' experiences of burnout. The current study, however, indicates that while D&I professional experience higher levels of exhaustion than other professionals, they also experience greater professional efficacy, which suggests D&I roles are both challenging and rewarding.

Practical implications

Results suggest organizational leaders may mitigate employee burnout by providing clear support to and role definitions for D&I professionals.


This study is the first to explore burnout experiences among D&I professionals. Additionally, this study examines how burnout experiences are associated with role dysfunctions, top management support, and subjective experiences of tokenism.



The authors would like to thank Shannon Terry for her review and feedback regarding this work. The authors would also like to thank an anonymous reviewer for pointing out our own blind spots in the discussion and assessment of members of some underrepresented groups, specifically disabled individuals.


Pemberton, A. and Kisamore, J. (2023), "Assessing burnout in diversity and inclusion professionals", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 42 No. 1, pp. 38-52.



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