As we all move ahead in the uncharted territory of COVID-19, there is no more "business as usual" in the workplace, and how we all work together is changing – perhaps permanently. While it could be easy to want to put aside diversity and inclusiveness (D&I ) programs and focus on what may appear to be more pressing issues, we can't do that. In reality, strong D&I programs could be the bright light at the end of a dark tunnel of chaos and uncertainty that surrounds COVID-19.
Diversity experts are in consensus about now being the time to double down on these efforts. Many studies indicate companies invested in D&I programs are more innovative, efficient, and much more likely to hang onto diverse talent. This should cement the idea of D&I programs being "must-have" programs for any organization - for employees and clients .
Keep Your Goals in Mind
Often, as we face challenges, our initial reaction is to focus on the quick decisions and solutions to immediately right the ship, leading to the abandonment of some programs that create the culture and identity of a company. Do not let this happen to your D&I program. Keep diversity goals top of mind, as they are still important.
Vigorous, diverse teams often have different points of view and context, and bring varied perspectives on challenges, fosters creativity, and solutions to problems. Further, many studies have shown that well-balanced teams are more innovative and more efficient when faced with complex issues. This could put your organization in a better position to not only survive these challenging times but to be able to pivot and continue to thrive.
Diversity in Leadership
Equity and inclusiveness in a leadership team will serve your organization in times of crisis on many levels. An inclusive leader can see different perspectives while still aligning core values and keeping a remote workplace together. Studies have also shown that diversity in the leadership team positions your company for better complex problem solving as well as a better ability to hire and retain a diverse team. In turn, making your organization better equipped to offer strategies and solutions that will speak to a broader range of clients and employees.
If your organization has a formal mentoring program, now is the time to invest in this program intentionally. Employee engagement, equal access, improved communication, and innovation are just a few of the benefits of having a diverse mentoring program. This initiative is not something that would be 'nice to have.' It is a must to keep your organization competitive, especially in times of uncertainty. These programs foster employee engagement, which is paramount to having an inclusive team.
Inclusive Culture is Better Culture
As offices start to reopen, there is excitement and apprehension. We are excited to reconnect to the social component that we have been missing and apprehensive about physically being in the same space. Having a robust and inclusive culture in your workplace will quell anxieties and going back to the office will bring the feeling of normalcy and safety to help ensure that this step is comfortable for everyone. Inclusivity is never one-size-fits-all but rather adapting to individual needs and creating a safe space for everyone.
Diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace creates an environment where everyone can feel accepted and valued. The long-term effect is better engagement, longevity, and cost savings as lower turnover will impact the bottom line of all organizations and companies.
At its core, inclusion is placing value on each one of your team members, as well as the entire team. Your organization cannot wait for things to return to ‘normal’ to make diversity and inclusion a priority.