Work teams everywhere are grappling with change. Along with financial challenges, many organizations are navigating new modes of work. On top of mind for leaders is surviving and where possible, thriving. Talent development has naturally fallen to the back burner and managers may not be spending any time at all on ensuring the inclusion and belonging of their employees. It may seem irrelevant to place any emphasis at all on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) when many organizations are concerned with employee retention. In fact, DEI initiatives have proven to increase business’s ability to practice resilience and pursue recovery amid uncertainty. There are several reasons why companies should keep DEI on their to-do lists in 2020.
1. Communities of color are burdened
Although the current global threat to humans does not discriminate between people, various communities are experiencing the threat in compounds as existing inequalities are magnified. Research indicates that people of color are impacted disproportionately. Across North America, experiences with poverty and other forms of vulnerability such as access to health care and resources are felt heavily by communities of color. Additionally, language that attempts to divide people by ethnicity and experiences is rampant in news media and has propelled fear and resentment. Naturally, employee experiences will vary.
Demonstrating understanding and empathy towards your employees – specifically those of marginalized communities – and offering organizational accommodations fosters trust and loyalty among your teams sure to last beyond uncertainty. Employees may be juggling work responsibilities with the care of a dependent or care for themselves, amongst several other challenges. Accommodations may include flexibility in your policies around sick leave or work hours. Consider intersectionality in your approach to identifying and addressing employee needs. Enabling opportunities for dialogue is a core pillar of an effective DEI initiative and can facilitate a renewed sense of workplace participation.
2. Parents may need extra support
Parents are faced with the challenges associated with fulfilling their work responsibilities remotely while fulfilling the needs of their children. Every parent’s experience is different, and attention to diversity in these experiences can be the reason your DEI efforts either sustain themselves or don’t. In example, an employee with a young child might have more difficulty working during the day than one with a teenager. Parents might be supporting children with special needs and unable to access services through school. Exploring differences in employee needs is part of engaging in effective DEI efforts.
3. Employees are craving engagement
We surveyed employees to understand their experiences with recent work changes. When asked to select their top three challenges from a list of 8 choices, 24% of participants selected productivity, followed by distractions at 21% and excitement at 14%.
While organizational leaders may be tempted to scale back on initiatives geared towards DEI – now more than ever – employees are looking for opportunities to invest in their communities, build employee relationships and support one another.
Remote work realities present a unique opportunity to foster employee participation, trust and loyalty.
Have you leveraged mechanisms to encourage workplace engagement in the past? Have you considered how these mechanisms could work virtually? Thought about how a Communication Guide could support your transition? An effective DEI program can equip you with the strategies and resources you need to get started immediately.
4. Consider your DEI efforts as crops
Just like tulips are planted in the fall before the ground freezes in order to blossom in the spring – now is the time to sow the seeds of DEI so your efforts may continue to flourish. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Like you, DEI practitioners are adapting and evolving services to meet the needs of companies and people today.
We offer an 8 week program designed to kickstart and sustain a DEI initiative. The program is made up of weekly action items coupled with resources like our DEI Policy template and Candidate Survey template for easy implementation. Evaluation mechanisms are especially created for virtual work dynamics. The really exciting part is that we want HR leaders to have the first three weeks of the program for free.
There is no doubt that our ways of life and work will transform for the long run. Now is the time to explore innovative workplace tools and mechanisms that facilitate ongoing collaboration, connection, and development of workplace culture in-office or online. Creating a sense of community and belonging is of utmost importance during uncertainty. Doing so demonstrates an understanding of employee needs and showcases a company’s adaptive agility.
Get started today with the first three weeks of our DEI program, Flourish 2020 for free.