Business priorities naturally shift during times of uncertainty—the novel coronavirus pandemic we’re currently living through has meant no shortage of unpredictability. This article from our D&I partner, Teleskope, looks at why organizations shouldn’t abandon their diversity and inclusion programs—especially during times of crisis.
With supply chains drying up, potential customers stuck at home, and the global economy entering a recession, it’s understandable for business and company leaders to be hyper-focused on survival in the short term.
Prioritizing survival often means allowing other, less pressing aspects of running a company to temporarily fall to the wayside. Unfortunately, many corporations see diversity and inclusion programs such as maintaining Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) as one of those aspects that can just be set aside for now.
We’re here to affirm that this is absolutely the last thing you should be doing.
Are Organizations Tempted To Ignore ERGs In A Crisis?
ERGs are a space for employees of all different identities and backgrounds to be able to connect and find resources and community. This is something that’s more important now than ever before.
Diversity and inclusion are often lumped in with many of the “softer” attributes of running a company, such as company culture, employee morale, etc. The thing is, none of those attributes are actually any less important than the more measurable aspects of company success, like revenues and quarterly metrics. If your employees are unhappy and your company culture is toxic, those issues will eventually surface in lower revenues and less impressive quarterly metrics.
However, in the midst of a global pandemic like COVID-19 (where morale can fluctuate, with many in survival mode), perhaps those aspects of company management can be lower on the priority list. But this is not the case with diversity and inclusion programs.
Employees Remember When ERGs Get Forgotten
We all know diversity and inclusion is a hot topic in business today. Discussions of identity have been dominating political discourse, higher education systems have been shifting to accommodate students from diverse backgrounds, and our society as a whole is becoming more and more varied in terms of gender, race, sexuality, nationality, and any identity category you can think of.
A lot of these discussions around diversity and inclusion have a particular focus on morality. Companies and organizations need to become more welcoming to people of all backgrounds because it’s the right and just thing to do, and we no longer want to live in a world where women, or people of color, or people identifying as LGBTQ+, for example, are considered lesser.
Of course, this is the ideal to strive towards, and it should be the main motivating force towards any company’s efforts to diversify and promote inclusion initiatives. While the majority of Americans are a little bit distracted right now with their own survival and needs, don’t think that the American public is not going to take note of which companies did not take care of their employees of color, female employees, and other marginalized groups during this crisis.
D&I’s Contribution to Your Top and Bottom Line
Beyond the moral imperative, diversity and inclusion programs can actually have more of a direct impact on a company’s top and bottom line than almost any other factor.
In 2017, a study by the McKinsey Global Institute found that companies who rank in the top quartile when it comes to levels of gender diversity amongst their employees averaged 21% higher financial returns as compared to industry competitors. It also found that companies demonstrating concrete efforts to increase racial and ethnic diversity have 33% higher returns!
Clearly, diversity and inclusion initiatives are not insignificant when it comes to a company’s financial success—meaning that if you let diversity and inclusion fall by the wayside during this time of crisis, it might just come back to bite you, and could actually worsen your financial situation.