3 Inclusion and Diversity Challenges brought on by COVID-19

As an inclusive leader, I have a going concern around inclusion and diversity in the workplace. I want to highlight 5 emerging challenges, in the hopes of kicking-off a dialogue on potential solutions, which may be adopted by Canadian companies. 1) New Canadians, Permanent Residents and disruption of their vacations with loved ones who are abroad For many first generation Canadian employees, vacation time is often dedicated to trips to either visit relatives abroad or stay-cations involving relatives spending some time here in Canada. There's a great sense of pride, re-energy and significant improvements to mental health, as they are able to reconnect with those they love most. I would like to see organizations provide their employees with some flexibility to carry-forward annual vacation entitlements, understanding that travel is temporarily restricted. Moreover, I would encourage organizations to add global corporate social initiatives or donation matching to enable employees to make a difference for their relatives abroad. 2) Corporate social volunteering and festival celebrations have been disrupted. The summer season traditionally brings forward opportunities to get outside and volunteer within the community for charity purposes or to celebrate diversity. This has been significantly disrupted due to social distancing measures. Consider, many employees are staying within social bubbles, rather than encourage mass volunteering, consider providing options to volunteer with others within their bubbles. Don't stop acknowledging diversity awareness dates. Engage with local communities to identify support requirements. Celebrate festivals virtually within the company. Challenge employee resource groups to define new programming. 3) With remote work, unconscious biases are raised; and emotional intelligence principles challenged in new ways. Many organizations are focused on virtual townhalls. Those closest to leaders are more apt to participate in dialogue. Don't depend on year-end performance reviews and annual engagement surveys, which provide a snapshot in time. Hold virtual discussions on inclusiveness. Be vocal that bullying and harassment will not be tolerated within the company culture. Provide examples that are more prevalent in virtual and remote work situations. Encourage leaders to hit pause and hear employee engagement in real-time. Consider adopting crowdsourcing to enable the diverse voice of the workforce to engage. Set goals as an organization and measure in real-time.

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