Companies: Now Is Not The Time To Put Diversity And Inclusion On The Back Burner

Every industry and sector of our world has now been impacted by COVID-19 in one way or another. Organizations are scrambling to figure out how to properly acclimate employees to remote work, while also managing the financial catastrophe that some industries are faced with. The focus that companies were placing on talent development has likely come to a screeching halt. In the midst of a global pandemic, the last thing on organizational leadership’s collective mind is ensuring that employees and customers feel a sense of inclusion and belonging. Many companies are grappling with how to make it out of this situation thriving. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) practitioners around the world are left wondering what the future of the industry holds. But even with the cataclysmic shifts that the world is currently experiencing, there are several reasons why your company’s DEI efforts should not be forgotten.

1.    People of color disproportionately impacted.

The DEI issues that your company was experiencing before COVID-19 may only be exacerbated by the virus. Reports are now indicating that communities of color are most impacted by the virus—systemic issues further emphasize these inequities. Currently in cities like Milwaukee and Detroit, early studies reveal that Black people are infected with the virus at disproportionate rates. Communities of color may not have the same access to tests and treatment compared to their White counterparts. Although anyone can contract the virus, the impacts and lingering effects seem to be compounded within marginalized communities. Understanding this growing issue and how it may impact your employees, particularly those from marginalized groups, is imperative to fostering a sense of inclusion and belonging during these unique times. Ensure that your organization provides employees with the means to work remotely. Be flexible in your sick leave policies. Some employees may be living in households where they are taking care of someone who is infected, or employees may be infected themselves. Creating a sense of community and belonging is especially important during times of crisis and putting employee needs at the forefront is an effective way to exhibit that employees matter.

2.    Continue to strengthen DEI muscles.

DEI is like a muscle that should be exercised frequently and consistently in order to grow stronger. Regardless of what stage your company is at with their DEI efforts, you don’t want to reverse all the progress you’ve made by disregarding DEI efforts and initiatives. Before COVID-19 emerged, there was a loneliness epidemic.

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