- A diverse workforce is critical to business success during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Times Up Foundation. The Time's Up Guide to Equity and Inclusion During Crisis released May 27 provides immediate steps business leaders can take to equalize their workplace and show care, according to the organization.
- When leadership makes decisions on layoffs and furloughs, the guide suggested employers examine the impact on workforce diversity and create a task force composed of a cross-section of employees at all levels to advocate for employees. The guide affirmed that empathetic leadership is key in recognizing employees' needs, such as mental health needs, as the crisis evolves. Showing care in leadership goes hand in hand with transparency about business decisions, according to Times Up.
- As workplaces reopen and companies implement social distancing safety measures, a culture of inclusion is important, the guidance said, suggesting that team leaders ensure underrepresented populations including women, people of color, LGBT-identifying people, people with disabilities and older workers are not unintentionally excluded, if, for example, the size of meetings must be limited, according to the guide. Also, if workspaces are reconfigured, management should be aware of which employees are moved "further from amenities, less visible to clients, off the senior management floor, or away from key leadership and collaborators," the guide stated.
The Times Up guidelines called on employers to keep in mind the value of diversity and inclusion even if financial hardship leads to layoffs.
Research has shown that industries hardest hit financially by the pandemic disproportionately impacted underrepresented populations. Leisure, hospitality, retail, professional services and manufacturing are all industries in which women disproportionately lost jobs compared to men, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research. And March 27 information from Pew Research Center revealed that black and Hispanic workers are overrepresented in these industries. Global Disability Inclusion survey results released May 5 found the pandemic has driven disproportionate job losses for workers with disabilities, as well. More than half of workers surveyed were laid off, lost their jobs, or expected to lose their job in the next three months.
Organizations often struggle with deploying diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) goals. "It can be really challenging for companies to figure out where to start," David Pedulla, an associate professor of sociology at Stanford University, recently told HR Dive in an interview.
Companies can use evidence-based insights to create diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and, later on, quantifiable goals, according to Pedulla, who organized the report, "What Works? Evidence-Based Ideas to Increase Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace," released May 13. The report offers guidance for management.
Keeping managers trained and aware of issues staff may be facing is key, in addition to ensuring support from leadership, according to Time's Up.