With most of us having been in lockdown for more than a month, changes have happened in almost every organisation and workplaces, especially in the Tech industry. A very obvious change of COVID19 is the reduction and even absence of face-to-face meetings. This comes with some positive and negative impacts when it comes to diversity, inclusion and equity in the workplace.
Some positive impacts include that disabled people, who had less access to the workplace, now can work remotely and with companies accommodating working remotely during the coronavirus outbreak, this brings more opportunities for disabled people to access the workforce. Remote-working can also be beneficial for employees, often women, with caregiving responsibilities for children, elderly and chronically ill family. Another positive impact of the coronavirus pandemic is that many events are now virtual, offering people with less access to financial strength and wealth to access those events and conferences without having to spend money on travel and accommodation, as well as people living in remote areas. One additional positive impact of COVID19 on diversity is that we are seeing more collaborative leadership forcing leaders to make changes that were long overdue regarding diversity and inclusion.
COVID19 also comes with negative impacts regarding diversity and inclusion. The pandemic will have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities and disadvantaged communities will be disproportionately affected; there is no doubt that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities. Teleworking simply isn’t an option for the millions of people who are working minimum wage or other low-income jobs, including those who work on an hourly basis or who rely heavily on tips for their income. Another negative impact of COVID19 on diversity is that some companies are de-prioritising diversity and inclusion initiatives because of COVID19; to start saying we are not going to focus on inclusion is dangerous, because the impact of Covid-19 will disproportionately affect already disadvantaged communities, and therefore it is not a factor that can be overlooked.
In summary, diversity and inclusion have never been more important for businesses. It's important that leaders understand the diverse range of impacts the coronavirus crisis is having on their employees. The presence of diversity and the practice of inclusion is essential to challenge us to look at problems differently and consider a wider range of financial issues and impacts that we might not otherwise. I genuinely hope that we will all take steps that will have positive repercussions for these vulnerable communities in the long term.