It’s a plain fact; these are strange and unpredictable times and we are all feeling the impacts. For a great many of us, the workplace as we know it is on an indeterminate ‘hiatus’ and we are working in a state of dynamic adaptation. By this I mean that we, the collective we, are floundering and fumbling through this new situation as well as we can until we develop enough knowledge and comfort to feel capable and on track again. It’s important to recognize that working through a pandemic occurring in the ‘information age’ means we’re also working in a persistent state of threat. The degree to which we feel threat or fear is different from person to person and is dictated to a large extent by neurological responses.
Our current situation illustrates yet again how diversity and inclusion strengthen workplaces. In a crisis, a wide range of ideas and prospective strategies is critical in order to identify adaptive solutions. How well these ideas and strategies are received requires that at least some of the people analyzing them are not biased against creativity in the face of threat and that emotion and ego don’t rule the day. Diversity gives us a range of experience, perspectives – and responses to threat. This is critical right now.
Workplaces that have learned how to effectively include diversity are leveraging a wider range of ideas and perspectives, drawing on diversity of thought, experience and culture. Diversity strengthens our problem solving but only if the leadership and work culture value everyone’s voice equally. Workplace cultures that are inclusive attract diverse talent and leverage new ideas creatively to respond to the conditions and forces impacting the organization. This is a sustainability strategy, plain and simple.
Workplaces will need to dramatically improve their diversity and inclusion game over the next ten years; as a huge percentage of our workforce ‘ages out’ the workers who replace them will be from diversity groups – or from age groups that consider diverse and inclusive workplaces to be non-negotiable. One of the most effective ways an employer can improve their capacity for diverse and inclusive workplaces is by working with a service provider agency to hire a person with a disability. The recruitment, onboarding, training and retention of workers with disabilities is supported by these publicly funded service providers, and employers typically find that the direct experience (and attached resources) improve their diversity competencies significantly.
We don’t know how long this current threat will last - or where the next threat will come from. What we do know is that a diverse and inclusive workplace is strong and adaptive in the face of threat.
For more information – or assistance with diversity and inclusion strategy development – contact RealEyes Capacity Consultants.