In Part I of our Shecession blog, we laid out the facts on the ground from the latest pieces of research and statistics relating to employment and the societal impacts of the global Covid-19 pandemic on women and in particular women of color.
Here we will be exploring what organizations can be doing to combat this Shecession and prevent it from disrupting the diversity, equity, and inclusion progress we have made in our 21st Century organizations?
As we keep reading, there are mountains of research showing that companies with diverse workforces weather recessions better than those without them. According to Joanne Lipman, former editor-in-chief of USA Today, this month, “a Fortune Magazine analysis concluded that from 2007-2009, stock prices for S&P 500 companies plunged by almost 36%, but the most diverse companies weathered this storm, seeing gains averaging 14.4% instead”.
For HR and organizational leadership to achieve a more fortunate outcome this time round, they need to focus on the following:
Communicate and Support
This is the time for Leadership and Human Resources to seek guidance from your people in preserving your company culture. The latest Lean-In-Survey Monkey Study revealed that fewer than half of employees say that their company has taken supportive action in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Amongst our clients, we have seen that companies conducting pulse surveys on how employees are feeling and what they need during this crisis, and then listening and acting on results, are enhancing trust and reducing anxiety amongst employees.
- Strengthen your community by providing resources to your staff and even those who were recently laid off or furloughed. Perhaps create a social media channel where employees and former employees can check-in.
- Create a company resource page where they can get updated information on available jobs, unemployment benefits, CARES Act, and Families First Coronavirus Response Act (for those who are still employed but need to care for children and/or family members who are sick from COVID-19).
- Starbucks has temporarily expanded its Care@Work program to support employees who need backup care. Ally expanded childcare and eldercare support through paid caregiver leave for employees.
- Google just announced that those employees still working from home until the end of the year, will receive a $1000 stipend to purchase home office furniture.
- Other companies offer weekly food allowance for staff to order take-out/delivery while working from home. While others provide wellness services that give employees ways to feel supported in ways not directly related to work. Stay in high touch with your staff and show them you care!
Flexibility is Key
For industries where male and female employees can work from home, review your work from home policy. In the LeanIn.org and SurveyMonkey.com studies it was revealed that women are getting pushed to a breaking point. As discussed in Shecession Part I, women spend more hours in a day than men towards housework and caregiving to their children and/or dependents on top of the actual job they have to do, which adds up to almost 20-22 hours per week.
We know companies are under tremendous financial pressure during this economic downturn, but helping their teams avoid burnout and illness needs to be a priority. According to Sheryl Sandberg and Rachel Thomas of Lean-In, “employers must work to relieve the stress employees are feeling” around finances, the intersection of work responsibilities and family and personal health. “Only 40% of employees say their companies have taken steps to increase flexibility since the pandemic began, and fewer than 20% say their employer has rejigged priorities or narrowed the scope of their work. “That’s not enough” say Sandberg and Thomas. “Leaders and managers should move any deadline that can be moved, take a second look at targets set before the pandemic, rethink the timing of performance reviews, and remove low-priority items from the to-do list”.
That is how they will get the best out of their employees amid this disruption and retain those workers when the crisis is over.
Your HR Team can help alleviate this burnout by
- providing well-being checks and mental health resources like EAP plans through your benefit carriers.
- HR can work with the executive team and assess the feasibility of reducing working hours to 35-hours per week for both male and female employees to ease their work/home life.
- Additionally, HR can partner with managers from various business units to strategize and allow for flexibility in terms of performance.
- Facebook, for example, recently eliminated performance reviews and ratings. They also allowed managers to reshuffle employee priorities as and when needed to maximize employee wellbeing.
Plan for the Future
Do not cut back on your Diversity and Inclusion programs. According to Lipman on NBC News on May 14th, 2020 “Even more disturbing, is that the damage to women post-pandemic is set to intensify – unless we intervene now”.
Google, again recently made headlines as employees report a well-liked diversity training program called Sojourn, a racial justice program created for employees to learn about implicit bias and initiate conversations about race and inequality, was cut entirely. Cutting D&I programs at this time may seem like an easy choice to make for cost-cutting but it is a costly mistake. Doing so, reduces employee trust and goodwill, when programs like these were important to people. Doing so, gives your employees the impression that there is no true investment in D&I at your company when it should be seen as a long-term investment in your culture.
Diversity, Equity &Inclusion impacts organizations at all levels. They are an essential aspect to building engaged and happy employees, as explained by Sydney Lu in Human Resources Today. Lu states, “Organizations with strong diversity climates are more likely to have employees with increased job satisfaction, higher levels of trust, and that are more engaged”.
- Employees: Teams are 158% more likely to understand target customers when they have at least one member who represents their target’s gender, race, age, sexual orientation, or culture.
- Managers: Companies with higher diversity in management earned, on average, 38% more revenue than companies with lower diversity. That could be because diversity of gender, country of origin, career path, and industry background are highly correlated to innovation.
- Leaders: Organizations in the top 25% when it comes to gender diversity among executive leadership teams are 21% more likely to be profitable and 27% better at creating value.
Finally, now is the time to show compassion, especially when the outside world is in crisis and certain groups are either struggling with extra work or are targeted for their race. Uber’s Chief Diversity Officer, Bo Young Lee, feels now is the time for connectedness. Employees are encouraged to introduce their children and elderly parents during Zoom meetings. Lee succinctly says “we see rising levels of fear, and fear is fundamentally one of the biggest barriers to diversity and inclusion because it breeds othering and labeling. If we do not emphasize understanding and engagement now, it is only going to worsen this issue. This is the perfect time to lean into our shared humanity”.
How is your organization taking care of its people right now? Call us for more compassionate ideas at PeoplescapeHR today.