Diversity in current times – Covid-19 is no longer an excuse

Diversity in current times – Covid-19 is no longer an excuse

Diversity and inclusivity practices in the workplace are often cited by organisations. Although not foreign to employers, it is important to consider how these practices must be enforced even further within their organisations especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. What the Covid-19 pandemic has done is to highlight even further the inequities which have long existed in our society and amplified the necessity of diversity and inclusive practices in the workplace.

Diverse hiring affects the makeup of the workforce – whether a workplace includes people of all ages, races, genders, religions and disabilities. On the other hand, inclusivity is how diversity is integrated into the workplace. For each business leader, the goal is making employees feel like they belong while being themselves unequivocally.

The toughest challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic have been faced by largely women and migrant workers. Firstly, women face a disproportionate level of stress as a result of Covid-19 than men, as the separation between work and home life is blurred, and women have to balance demands of the workplace and at home even more. Some women have had to go to the extent of choosing to prioritise the demands of the home and leaving their employment. Besides women, migrant workers also faced the brunt of the pandemic. Migrant workers in Malaysia often have to live in poor living conditions, cramped with many other people with poor ventilation and putting them at risk of infection. What this does is create a domino effect when one person is infected living in close quarters with others, and making it impossible to properly isolate themselves and being at risk of infection. Not only that, this has caused a stigma that migrant workers are likely to bring infection of the virus to others.

For employers, this means making an assessment of how their business can create more diverse hires and tapping into the market of people that have suffered at the hand of the pandemic. Employers and businesses should take the time to understand the plight felt by the group of people who suffer from the pandemic. In doing so, employers can see the root of the problem and improve upon their diversity and inclusivity practices in the workplace. Besides employing diverse and inclusive hiring practices, offering support to employees who fall into the category of diverse hiring will boost morale and create more trust in the workplace.

Businesses must also focus on advancing diverse talent into executive, management, technical and board roles. Representation is becoming increasingly important, and diverse hires bring a host of benefits to a business such as bringing different perspectives to a business and can drive innovation and productivity.

Besides that, businesses must offer adequate support to diverse employees. The challenges faced by diverse employees may be in the form of lack of access to technology or employees that have to both work while giving care at home. To foster inclusivity in the workplace, businesses must offer structural support and mental health support in order to maintain workplace productivity. On the other hand, for businesses that employ migrant workers who may face even more discrimination due to their circumstances, may need to reaffirm that discrimination at work and from their employees’ surroundings cannot be tolerated. Even further, employers must ensure that their employees are provided with good living conditions and measures to ensure that they are distanced from the risk of infection.

Above all, employers must exercise compassion and empathy to diverse employees in their business. While productivity is at the front-end goal of every business, employers should remember that their employees are human with human needs and expectations in the workplace. If importance is given in protecting diverse employees and fostering a good work environment, it will only bring returns to the business which is beneficial in the long run.

As the paralysing effects of the pandemic are starting to fade, businesses stand the most to gain if diverse and inclusive environments are created and maintained. This will foster trust amongst employees and the company, and this sense of loyalty will translate into lower attrition and better performance.



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FirstWorks Group is a Recruitment Agency in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, that specialises in matching the best people with the best companies.

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