When considering the bases of diversity, equity and inclusion, employees often think of race, gender, and sexual orientation. But the stigma and privacy concerns surrounding medical-related matters shroud the prevalence of workers with alcoholism and substance abuse. According to a recent federal government study, more than 70% of illicit drug users and 80% of binge drinkers are a part of the U.S. workforce. While many companies have ERGs available for employees with similar racial or sexual orientation backgrounds, those with addiction often cannot find safe places to speak about their struggles. “It’s an issue that’s hidden in plain sight.”
On the other hand, employees may abstain from drinking for religious or cultural reasons, pregnancy, family history and health. Depending on a company’s culture, employees practicing sobriety might find it challenging to be included in a workplace environment. In fact, those who do drink might be socially rewarded significantly more than employees who choose not to.