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Why does DE&I Matter the Most in the Covid World?

The world is slowly waking up from the shackles of Covid.  As it restructures to the imperative changes, there are individuals and institutions that need the most help, compassion and solidarity in the time of crisis. Like the UN says, Covid is a test of societies, governments, institutions and individuals. In term of individuals, DE&I and its affiliated communities are one of the worst hit from the global pandemic.

For the unversed, DE&I are the only terminologies visible, but in reality, it takes into account many communities that are underrepresented like LGBTQ+, differently-challenged people, spouses, home-makers, people from different race, color, ethnicity, immigrants, minorities and many others.

Thanks to Covid, the world can no longer afford to ignore healthy and safety. The past and after-math of the pandemic crisis has brought many challenges mainstream. The global economy is going downstream, governments are concerned about health and safety of their citizens, businesses are revisiting their strategies, surging gap between the rich and poor all are over the place.

Amidst the Covid-19 crisis, the PRIDE month in June just went past by, raising apprehensions about DE&I communities and the justice they deserve. Companies proudly adopted rainbow into their logos and showed they are in pursuit of the same. But the reality is yet strikingly grey.  Fueled intrusively by the pandemic crisis and its consequences, the progress particularly for DE&I in workplace has paused for a while.

Throughout this blog, you will find concerns about DE&I communities in the workplace, particularly in the current situation. While there is a mammoth of issues that need to be discussed, we are keeping the blog precise to stay true the title under discussion.

Let’s a take look at why DE&I issues matter the most in the Covid world through the lens of business enterprises:

Downsizing

Call it either layoffs, furloughs, budget cuts or any other similar terms. The global pandemic has triggered many enterprises to go for layoffs need to consider the adverse impact of layoffs on employees. On other hand, organizations that haven’t laid off their employees are opting for salary reductions.

These unintended consequences have devasting effect on the employees, especially women employees, people with disabilities and other such minorities. Mckinsey points out that female workforce loses job 1.8 times more than their male counterparts in Covid times. Top management need to analyze the correlation between downsizing and DE&I classes and hence look at the big picture. Losing out employees is a tentative means that has long-lasting consequences on organization itself. In this regard, it makes sense to proactively assess the economic and social consequences particularly on DE&I workforce and safeguard them.

Remote Workplace

As companies opt for restructure measures like work from home, virtual meetings and conferences, better opportunities lie for DE&I talent in corporate world. Flexible work places equipped with ergonomic technologies encourage diverse, untapped talent to apply for jobs. that are no longer constrained by distances and locations. It also means enterprises can unleash DE&I initiatives liberally for talent pool expansion and be a source of equity for their employees.

Besides this, visionary enterprises can extend DE&I scenarios across supply chain partners as well. This makes sure that DE&I goals are aligned from end-to-end.

Biases

There is always an inherent bias towards DE&I at workplaces in terms of stereotypes, disparities, stigma, aggravation and discrimination. But Covid seems to have only aggravated it – true to its virus behavior. As per a report by diversitybestpractices.com, the current crisis situation is where the corporate leaders must take up the role of upstander and recalibrate HR policies to promote awareness and cohesion.

Some of the best practices would be making the best use of technologies in hiring and onboarding. For example, recruitment companies can use hiring automation for talent acquisition. These advanced technologies powered by accurate data insights can eliminate bias to a great extent. Glider tools like Phone Screen interviews dramatically minimize unconscious bias towards candidates during assessments.

Work-Life Balance

The oxymoron that it is! Since its arrival, Covid has significantly blurred the boundaries of work and home. Practices like remote working, virtual hiring  have become the new normal. Woefully, a significant portion of workforce say there has been an increase in workload when working from home.

When comes to the workforce from DE&I communities, it has been still worst. For example, working mothers or new mothers need to juggle between mommy duties, school closures and work duties as well. Female employees in India reported a 30 percent increase in household responsibilities. In case of people with disabilities, they may need additional technical support at home, which is either difficult or inaccessible.

Leaders and executives in the C-suite can intervene by holding explicit discussions on bringing back the equilibrium. Besides determining new ways of workflows, reallocating workload, upskilling, opportunities, enterprises can mentor their workforce on raising awareness against DE&I discrimination in workplaces.

Health and Safety

While it is unlikely to resolve the damages of the pandemic very soon, the governments all over the world are committed to take health and safety concerns to the next level. Unfortunately, it is not only the physical health concerns we are concerned about, mental health has taken a journey down south too. For example, there are many real instances where patients who have recovered from Covid are alienated from their neighborhood and society and DE&I communities are no exception. Along with Covid risk, there are increased fears surrounding stress, isolation, job losses etc.

As a response, enterprises around the planet have pledged their resources in making health and safety as a top priority in their workplace. Employers have also reimagined KPIs, work culture and concerned policies to make sure employees are well-supported. For example, there are instances of budget increase for DE&I priorities and initiatives.

All Things Considered

Staffing leader and expert, Gene Waddy CEO, DIVERSANT LLC quoted in a recent SIA conference that, “DE&I is a tool by which all things are possible. When I see companies that for generations were nowhere on the battlefield when it comes to DE&I now making real commitments in the space, it makes me feel really hopeful.”

In this sense, enterprises like Glider walk the talk of DE&I, more seriously in times of Covid crisis. For them, DE&I initiatives are not just ‘go with the crowd’ movements, but a 365 days mission. It is a commitment that is channeled all-round the year providing people with cradle to career opportunities. 

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