Diversity and inclusion in unprecedented times
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the entire world and impacted everyones lives. The current uncertain times have also changed the way we do things, the way we work, the way business happens and, it has truly questioned all the normal behaviours.
While everyone is experiencing the impact of this pandemic at varying degrees, people also have their own ways of tackling and surviving through these challenging times. This is the best time to refocus and realign your energies to identify and work on areas where you, as a company, can be better and create a long-lasting positive change while giving back something meaningful to your people as well as the community.
The worldwide pandemic has impacted everyones life in diverse ways. It does not look at their location, religion, background, etc. However, those who are diverse or at the various margins of society always suffer the most during such times. This is the perfect time to stand up and extend some support to these people, embrace diversity and work towards building an inclusive environment for all.
Here are some small ways you can work on the diversity and inclusion aspect in your organisation.
1. Flexible Working is the Future
The COVID-19 outbreak has challenged the traditional 9 to 5, five days a week structure making it more fluid. The pandemic which nobody expected has implemented lockdowns in multiple countries around the world and lead to employees comfortably working from home. Many recent studies have stated that a comfortable working environment for the employee leads to more productivity. Hence more and more organisations should take note of this and facilitate flexible WFH situations. A social media giant like Twitter is a classic example of how it realised the potential of working from home and then implemented it indefinitely. There are also other large companies like Google and Facebook, allowing working from home until year-end clearly showing that employees security is their top priority. This human nature of companies who are considering the comfort and safety of employees will enable employees to stick with the company during such tough times.
2. Sense of Belonging
The current pandemic situation has led to the largest social isolation. Every human is craving to interact and meet in person, but it bears a high risk for them and others. In such a delicate situation,as a good organisation, it must stay connected with its employees, creating a sense of belonging for everyone so that the employees know that the organisation cares for them. As the current remote working situation prevails, a company must maintain a routine check on its employees to keep a track on them and their family.
3. Empathetic Leadership
An empathetic leader is the one who understands others and tries to be aware of their feelings. Such kind of leadership is what the world requires right now in such hard times. A leader who can understand, listen and inspire others to take steps that challenge their capabilities can create a strong bond with employees. Employees feel safer communicating with empathetic leaders as they are willing to understand different perspectives. The present remote working setup of organisations clearly requires a smooth communication flow and transparency, which can be obtained easily with the help of strong empathetic leadership.
4. Valuing Mental Health
The entire quarantine has been a bit maddening on all of us as we need to stay home 24x7 and only step out to get essentials. If you are working from home, then that responsibility is taken by someone else at home, which makes you stay at home all the time. All of this has been bringing a negative effect on people mental health due to social isolation. Companies should take steps to take care of the mental health of employees as more and more of them are feeling stressed, lonely, depressed and anxious. Organisations must take care of its employees by maybe conducting timely activities to control remote burnouts and boost positivity. Organisations should understand the mental health of employees and look for resources to support their mental state.
5. Digital Transformation
The coronavirus has had a tremendous impact on our daily lives, including the digital platforms, turning them into a blessing in disguise, allowing companies around the world to operate remotely. Businesses all over the world have been adapting to the new virtual way of living to work seamlessly. People are becoming more patient and turning their communication needs to digital platforms allowing audio-visual meetings, changing the traditional in-person meetings. People are also taking special efforts to stay in touch with their colleagues, which are creating more authentic relationships. Organisations should actively work on creating different virtual spaces for their employees where they can work smoothly as well as come together for a quick chat, discussing challenges or concerns, or just to connect while they maintain social distancing.