4 keys to greater diversity post-coronavirus
A more diverse workplace means a more flexible, agile, and innovative workplace – something no company can afford to be without in the current crisis. And modern tech makes even unconscious bias hard to hide.
As we return to work, we have an unprecedented chance to stop excluding women and minorities. We need to think not ‘back to normal’ but ‘better than normal’. Here are four ways to do that.
The need for strong inclusion protocols has become starkly obvious. Zoom calls, for instance, have a way of letting you know exactly how well you’re doing at making the quietest or most marginalised employees heard. Letting a few people dominate is no longer acceptable – managers need to level the playing field. It’s also been suggested that the sudden wealth of Zoom recordings could be a useful database for research on inclusion and exclusion.
When performance and pay evaluations and feedback are based on personal opinion, they’re going to be biased.That means we need to start doing this by the numbers. Right now, when that one employee who keeps stopping by the boss’s office to brag about their achievements is stuck at home, managers have a chance to become fairer decision-makers. They need to take it.
While tough leadership is still important in a crisis, soft skills like empathy and active listening have proved just as vital to teams’ survival during COVID-19. While these skills have traditionally been shown as feminine – and belittled accordingly – we’ve seen male leaders show tremendous heart in these times, and female leaders show tremendous grit. That needs to continue. From now on, to meet employees’, customers’ and stakeholders’ needs, a good leader has to be both hard and soft.
4. Women's participation
The untapped potential of working women has also been thrown into sharp relief, as barriers to women’s achievement at work have done tremendous damage during coronavirus. In Japan, for instance, just 20% of doctors are women. With an ageing population overwhelming the young’s ability to care for them, there’s no doubt that lives have been lost to the virus that could have been saved with more doctors.
The situation is worse in other countries, where many roles that have been vital in the pandemic, like firefighters, police officers, and bus drivers, are completely closed to women. Ironically, women have been overrepresented in equally essential but underpaid roles such as nurses and grocery clerks, and have taken a disproportionate financial hit. The 2020 World Economic Forum Gender Gap report shows that financial and political equality are still very far off.
On the upside, teleworking has shone a new light on the extra, unpaid responsibilities women carry, and many dads have learned a new respect for their wives, as have bosses for employees who routinely work from home and juggle care responsibilities with professional ones.
Soon the pandemic will be over and it will be time to learn lessons. They shouldn’t only be about science and crisis preparedness; diversity is vital to our survival too.