EDI During the Pandemic

The current #COVID-19 pandemic has without a doubt exacerbated existing #inequalities and biases in society. Below are the top 16 challenges, that I have come across, in terms of #EDI within the workplace. So how do we address situations like these, and ensure we are not returning to a 'normal' that ignores the need for structures and cultures that resolve these challenges?

  1. Harassment of Chinese population

  2. Staff and students with carer responsibilities

  3. Mental health implications

  4. Staff and students with ageing / vulnerable parents

  5. Diverse living / working environments

  6. Staff and students with underlying health conditions

  7. Poor access to the internet and IT

  8. Childcare / home-schooling

  9. Accessibility of web app tools

  10. Access to faith needs

  11. BAME community vulnerabilities & support

  12. Domestic violence support

  13. LGBT+ community vulnerabilities & support

  14. Financial support

  15. Displaced individuals

  16. Bereavement and counselling.

We are undoubtedly living through extraordinary times, and the challenges that organisations, leaders and managers now face are unusual. The 'normal and traditional' ways of working have been disrupted and may never return. Many organisations will have understandably been caught off guard by the pandemic. This will have been evident in organisations that had focused EDI efforts on events, lip service and simply trying to achieve diversity without inclusion. Although many may not initially attribute their challenges to the lack of focus on EDI.

The workplace is responding to the challenges of delivering their products and / or services, supporting individuals with specific needs, concerns, and circumstances, whilst operating in the wider context of increased anxiety, uncertainty and inherent risks. And then we have our own personal situations to deal with.

When dealing with the challenges identified above, and more, perhaps a good framework could look something like this:

It would be great to think that EDI rather than being something 'nice to do', or lip service being paid to business, financial and reputational impacts, that it might come out of this crisis with renewed vigour and understanding. This situation will provide case studies of discrimination that go beyond the normal thoughts of 'gender' and 'BAME' that some associated as EDI. The fears some companies had around home working might be negated, flexible agile working practices might become the default, data may have been updated to give a realistic understanding of workforce demographics and needs, remote tools might become the norm, and so forth. All these things would contribute to removing some of the barriers and obstacles that certain groups face to a fulfilling career.

Like everything in life, this situation is transient, but if we don't learn, change and adapt, we will be susceptible to future challenges. This pandemic has given us an opportunity to change, an opportunity to examine our conditioned approach to the workplace, a chance for us to recognise that we all have individual needs, and they require an appropriate response for staff, products, services, and businesses to flourish, by recognising the importance of inclusion and the value of that diversity.

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