Updated: Jun 11, 2020
As business seek to maintain what little profitability they can in this turbulent market that has been forced upon us by the Covid-19 pandemic, they seek to manage risk within their operations. How will a focus on diversity and inclusion be implemented into the risk management agenda, and why is it important to maintain a focus on D&I in these changing times?
Operationally, it is key to ensure that businesses do their best to maintain an effective working structure within the confines placed upon us by the Coronovirus outbreak. Much has been written and debated about the impact on mental health, as workers are sent home to work, or are furloughed.
It is crucial for businesses to manage and monitor staff, in order to protect wellness, and ensure it does everything to ensure the safety and mental health security of staff teams.
However, more broadly, diversity and inclusion is inclusive of a wide range of differences that comprise culture, lifestyle and the human experience.
What of the other aspects of diversity and how do these fit into the diversity management portfolios of companies across the world?
Covid-19 and the Diversity and Inclusion Agenda
With an increasingly lowered level of recruitment across the globe, the Covid-19 pandemic has slammed the breaks on hiring across the business landscape.
This however, does not prevent organisations from maintaining inclusion, during these turbulent and uncertain times.
Consider that the usefulness of diversity and inclusion does not go away just because staff are now designated homeworkers. Consider the impact on diversity and inclusion, if staff feel unable to communicate issues and are not physically located on office premises.
Leadership still has a duty towards staff to maintain diversity and inclusion, as part of risk management and business continuity agenda.
Points to consider:
Is diversity and inclusion a key component of your support mechanism for staff who are working from home. Distance does not remove the need for inclusion. It is still the responsibility of the business to develop inclusion.
Are you maintaining an active D&I learning programme, during the Covid-19 pandemic for homeworkers and furloughed staff?
Remember staff who have been furloughed may not be able to engage in activities that make profit for the business, but this does not mean that they cannot undertake learning and development activities.
Are you preparing your business for when the landscape is more hospitable and you being to hire again. How will diversity and inclusion impact on your recruitment processes to ensure that you have the capability to recruit without favouritism
Should your business have to make staff redundant, how will you implement a fair process to ensure that staff are not disadvantaged during the process?
Lessons will surely be learned, when we put Covid-19 behind us. Slowly, people will go back to work, and some sense of normality will ensue. What lessons will be learned from this period in history.
We will, I hazard a guess, remember the fear that Covid-19, brought to nations across the world. We'll remember the panic buying the panic-buying and the global recognition of the Health and Care sector communities, and the risks that they took to personal safety to try to keep us well.
We have learned, from the current pandemic, that Black and Minority Ethnic front-line workers, have proved more susceptible to the virus, resulting in a disproportionate number of deaths from these community.
This has been mirrored across the general population, with more than twice the numbers of deaths occurring within these communities when compared to white communities.
When Covid-19 lockdown is eased, and the world slowly returns to work.....
Will we however remember, how diversity and inclusion was put on the back-burner, as many a staff member was sent home and diversity and inclusion fell off the agenda?
Will we remember how diversity and inclusion failed to appear within many a workplace agenda, in a somehow de-prioritised way, as if it did not matter?
Will we remember how people from minority ethnic backgrounds, all around the world proved more susceptible to Covid-19, and were disproportionately affected across the health and social care sectors globally.
Those are questions that organisations will have to answer for themselves, as they reflect on the management of the pandemic.
Let us be clear.... the risks the Black and Minority Ethnic key workers, were known early on in the outbreak, but how did that factor into risk management activities for these key workers?
I hazard a guess that things will never be 'quite' the same. The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 will have lessons for us all.
Planning for the future world of work has never been more important. Diversity and inclusion should form a key part of risk management activity, to ensure that all employees are treated fairly and this is a priority within business continuity.
Creating an inclusive workplace, must become a priority for business across the globe. My sense is that diversity and inclusion is a valuable part of risk management, and must form part of the planning agenda.
As we recover from the pandemic, which is sure to bring increased unemployment on a global scale, let us hope that diversity, inclusion and equity, form part of the solutions.
Preparation and Opportunity
Out of crisis comes opportunity. It is often said that success is found where preparation meets opportunity. By developing practice around diversity and inclusion, during these turbulent economic times, businesses can be better placed to rep the rewards when the upswing arrives.
Leaders should be willing to engage with diversity and inclusion within their risk management portfolios, to better prepare for the opportunities that will come in time.
Not only is D&I important for supporting workers during this time of uncertainty, but it will be key to leveraging opportunities, when the landscape brightens.
The world is waiting... and watching.
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