Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are not new concepts. However, as the threat of COVID-19 shifts, it’s important for businesses to not simply have a plan, but fully embrace those concepts. People have gained new and varied perspectives while living through and preparing to emerge from the pandemic.
Although often used together, diversity and inclusion represent separate ideas. Diversity is the actual makeup of the business, including but not limited to age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and disabilities. Inclusion is how diversity is integrated.
The goal for business leaders is to make employees feel like they belong and can be themselves — both in virtual and in-person workplace settings.
Why Does It Matter?
The coronavirus pandemic has and continues to elevate disparities and highlight other challenges. For example, a subtler form of diversity is whether somebody is a parent or caregiver. No matter what the difference or situation is, business leaders should expand their empathy and compassion for employees as work-life challenges evolve.
There’s a positive side of the pandemic as diversity is addressed in new ways with employees working from home. For example, those who may have trouble getting around the office due to physical limitations have been able to work from the comfort of their home.
When discussing employee well-being and engagement, diversity and inclusion should be a part of the conversation as well.
Making It the New Normal
If we’ve learned anything from social distancing and isolation, it’s that humans are their best when connected and engaged with each other. The benefits of diversity and inclusion remain the same as they were before the coronavirus pandemic, but this is a good time to revisit business strategies.
Business leaders can use their power, platforms and resources to help employees feel heard and respected. Now, more than ever, employees need and deserve that in the workplace.
The MBA now offers a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) workshop! To learn more, visit https://www.mbausa.org/hr-and-legal-services/hr-training/.
Stacey Bruce, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, is the director of HR Services at the Manufacturer & Business Association. Contact her at 814/833-3200, 800/815-2660 or email@example.com.