What are the impacts of Covid-19 on diversity and inclusion at work?
There can be no doubt that the Coronavirus pandemic is fundamentally changing our political, economic, social and work structures at great pace. Along with wider adoption of remote working, the world-of-work is likely to be very different post Covid-19 and it is likely to transform in ways we might not yet fully appreciate.One important aspect to consider is the lasting impact on diversity and inclusion at work. What are the positive and negative impacts of Covid-19 and the increases in remote working, likely to be? Will the attraction and retention of diverse talent fall down employers’ priority lists? Will individuals from all backgrounds have greater or fewer opportunities for work and career progression after this is all over?We regularly partner with diversity and inclusion experts to bring our customers insight, advice and guidance. This week we interviewed Jenny Hinde, Executive Director of the Clear Company to explore these questions.
How is the current crisis affecting employers’ consideration of their diversity and inclusion agenda?
“In the current circumstances, attracting and recruiting diverse talent may sink down the priority list. For some, there might be a need to recruit quickly to meet demand, for others, there may not be a necessity to recruit at all as business slows down. This rapidly changing crisis may lead to more reactive decision making and a neglect to considering the diversity agenda. For employers recruiting remotely, it is more important than ever to put diversity and inclusion at the top of the agenda.”
Why is it dangerous to neglect commitments to diversity and inclusion?
“Your decisions now will have a lasting impact on your business – for example, what will your Gender Pay Gap data say about this period next year?” “Equally, your decisions in this period will affect your future employer brand once we resume business as usual. Be sure to ask yourself, how do we ensure we continue to make inclusive consumer decisions that support our brand and not make rash decisions under pressure that cause damage?”
“It is important for leaders to be thinking of the post pandemic impact. If inclusion has not been managed effectively during this period, there will be a significant amount of remedial work to do.”
How might employers make the best of this situation?
“Flexible and remote working is now being practiced across the country when it was once said to be ‘impossible’. Employers have now proven that it is possible and can now offer these adjustments to groups that may benefit from it such as disabled and neurodiverse people, and parents/carers, for example. These opportunities can also be rolled out into future recruitment practices to attract and retain more diverse talent.”
How is remote working impacting on employers’ ability to ensure equal opportunities for career progression?
“As the world around us rapidly changes, working life goes on and your employees will continue to look to the future, as you should to. It might not be at the top of the agenda at the moment but your employees will still be considering the impact this situation may have on their career progression in one year, two years or ten years time. Now is an opportunity to consider how diversity and inclusion intertwines with career progression.”
“It may have seemed radical months ago to reshape your organisation to promote fairer opportunities for all, but that step has already been taken out of your control as flexible and remote working is enforced nationwide. Now, we have levelled the playing field and individuals who may not have had the same access to the steps on the career ladder are given a glimpse of hope that they can take the same steps as their colleagues.”
Can you provide examples of specific groups whose careers may be positively impacted?
“Parents, and statistically more likely to be women, with children who have taken significant career breaks and still need time at home to look after their children are now less likely to be scrutinised for working flexibly.”
“Individuals who can’t get into work everyday because of accessibility barriers, mental health problems or personal challenge due to neurodiverse conditions, are now being given the flexibility to work around their routines and needs.”
What one piece of advice would you give to employers right now?
“With all this change going on around you, now is the time to make a change internally. Review your performance targets and promotion structures to cater for individuals whose needs are different, but when given the opportunity have every chance of success along with their colleagues.”
About the Clear Company
Continuously refined over 15 years of practice, the Clear Company is a diversity and inclusion consultancy which brings a balance of expertise, insight and a roadmap of actions to our clients. All supported by training and online products that enable them to drive meaningful, measurable change as they make D&I part of their everyday. For access to our online Covid-19 tool kit please get in touch.
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We’d love to hear from leaders on how you are adapting, implementing and assessing your diversity and inclusion strategies as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. Please get in touch to share your insights.
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