Global crises are far-reaching and disruptive, leaving an impact on society as a whole. But they also affect businesses, workplaces, and personal lives.
In 2020, the world struggled with the COVID-19 pandemic, which the majority finds worse than the 2008 Global Recession. Its aftermaths caused severe problems for the healthcare and financial sector, but they also awoke deep-seated societal issues.
The novel coronavirus disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities as they have higher hospitalization rates than non-Hispanic white individuals. Thus, 25 percent of Hispanic and Black employees work in the essential sector yet encounter more obstacles to getting care, such as a lack of health insurance.
The COVID-19 recession also led to more job losses among women than men, and they are also likelier to work in the healthcare and education sphere. Another issue that the pandemic brought back to the forefront is that females disproportionately took the role of a caregiver due to being associated with childcare more strongly than before.
Hence, the death toll due to the surge of coronavirus infections might be the worst aftermath, but it is not the only one. The pandemic also had a substantial impact on diversity efforts that we must not ignore.
THE COVID-19 IMPACT ON DIVERSITY, INCLUSION, AND EQUITY IN THE WORKPLACES
Even though most companies integrated diversity procedures to ensure inclusive workplaces, nine out of ten executives find it challenging to execute their DE&I strategies during the pandemic. Since the racial and ethnic minorities already struggle with the disproportionate blow of lockdown and pandemic, it is alarming data.
A 2020 research across 11 countries shows that women, LGBTQ+, people of color (POC), and working parents find it more challenging to maintain work-life balance. Although the pandemic doesn’t spare anyone, women, in particular, are concerned about increased household responsibilities.
That indicates that the double shift remains a critical gender question. Females, particularly in emerging economies, still have to endure an unequal burden of childcare or taking care of aging family members.
As a result, women are leaving the U.S. workforce at a greater rate than men due to lack of support, high childcare costs, and gender pay gaps. However, the pandemic affects black and Hispanic females more (nine percent) than their white female coworkers (five percent).
On the other side, employees who identify as LGBTQ+ fear losing their jobs while also feeling a sense of isolation. These individuals also struggle with an overwhelming workload increase and stress over-performance compared to their heterosexual and cisgender coworkers. Moreover, they are also likelier to report mental-health issues and feeling disconnected at the workplace.
POC employees are more worried about workplace health and safety compared to their white peers. Thus, they stress over progressing in their career and taking care of responsibilities at home.
It is no wonder that only one in six diverse employees feel the support from their employers. Undoubtedly, the pandemic has amplified already existing disparities, and workplaces are no exception. Despite the efforts to diversify work environments, employees from minority groups still experience various challenges that hinder their personal and professional lives.
With the global inoculation speeding up, the world is hopeful we are at the end of the tunnel, entering the last weeks or months of the pandemic. Yet, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the post-COVID era will have a substantially better outlook for the minorities.
POST-COVID ERA AND DIVERSITY
Regardless of their size and industry, most businesses found themselves in a difficult position due to the pandemic. However, each company had a different approach, and not all executives consider DE&I to be among the crucial elements of their company culture. For some, diversity is just another task concerning compliance.
The Post-COVID era will likely show what organizations had stable DE&I initiatives before the pandemic and what struggled with execution or fostering inclusion because they felt they had to. Whatever the scenario, employees will suffer the consequences of perfunctory strategies and unstable programs.
Some companies will still have the hiring freeze in place to recover financially from the coronavirus aftermaths. These businesses will likely focus on internal hiring and upskilling, which doesn’t improve diversity. Instead, it centers around reshuffling the same workers inside the company.
The pandemic also accelerated technology progress, resulting in increased automation. But despite its benefits, automation will disproportionately affect black people, leading to a displacement of over four million persons in this group.
These individuals could lose their jobs and struggle to find another due to being overrepresented in industries where automation will be rampant. Other minority groups that will likely become victims of the labor switching are women and Latino people.
Undoubtedly, automation affects minorities more intensely than others. Yet, these groups of people already struggle with the pandemic and lockdown aftermaths.
Although the shift to automation was inevitable, many companies had to opt for this technology sooner than they initially imagined due to the COVID-19. It is why these shifts were often quick, abrupt, and without thorough planning. Because of that, many executives didn’t even have enough time or resources to implement a more inclusive transition to automation.
The data indicate that the pandemic has exacerbated the existing inequalities and accelerated technologies that will further hinder diversity. It is why DE&I is more significant than ever.
Even though the world is reaching the other side of the pandemic, we will have to mitigate its aftermaths for years to come. Business leaders must strengthen their diversity efforts and implement stable and long-term programs to ensure minority groups are not left behind.