4 opportunities to open up on diversity after the coronavirus

Here are some ways to promote diversity in a post-coronavirus era:

1. Inclusion

The need for rigorous inclusion protocols becomes patently obvious on long video-conferencing calls. It is no longer acceptable for a few people to dominate, interrupt or appropriate ideas. Managers running calls have a duty to ensure a level playing field when they mediate conversations. What’s more, recorded conferences could become a gold mine of anonymized data in the future when researchers analyze the rhythms of inclusion or exclusion.

2. Performance

Feedback, performance and pay evaluations – processes often driven by bias – should become more analytical and metric-based. When the person who casually stops into the boss’ office to brag about his or her accomplishments can no longer swing by, managers have the opportunity to be less partial in their handling of important career decisions. They should take it.

3. Leadership

Leaders of today must also exhibit more nuanced skills. The old-fashioned, hard-power style of command and control still plays an important role in crisis. But other abilities – showing empathy and appreciation, listening and supporting – take on equal importance, as this seminal Judy Rosener article pointed out as far back as 1990. Such relational skills have typically been seen as soft and less valued traits practiced by women as members of the non-dominant group. Today’s most effective leaders will have to embrace both hard and soft powers to address the needs of their employees, customers, communities and investors, as KPMG’s 2019 women’s leadership report makes clear.

4. Women's participation

Women’s potential remains vastly untapped. The pandemic brings into stark relief the damage that can be done when countries put barriers between women and the workforce. In Japan, just 20% of doctors (13,400 of 67,000) are women. This low rate may be a legacy of culture, economics, education or political leanings. But with an ageing population and not enough young to care for them, imagine how many more people could be treated if women joined the profession.

The obstacles for women are greater in other countries, where they are exclued from becoming police officers, firefighters, bus drivers, and grocery clerks – essential jobs during the pandemic. Ironically, in many countries, it is precisely the underpaid, mainly women, who are the caregivers, nurses, grocery clerks. The 2020 World Economic Forum Gender Gap report makes clear that economic and political parity are distant goals. As thousands of people die from the coronavirus, the global health crisis shines a harsh light on the consequence of either excluding women from full participation in the workforce or being disproportionately represented in essential but underpaid work.

Extract taken from World Economic Forum