December 3, 2020

Diversity and Inclusion: Sustaining Progress During a Pandemic

Many businesses are aware of the positive impacts associated with diversity and inclusion (“D&I”) in the workplace, including increased revenues, improvements in employee engagement and innovation, and broadened capacity to address customer needs.

Unfortunately, though, due to the global pandemic caused by COVID-19, businesses may feel forced to shift focus from sustaining D&I to more time-sensitive concerns, such as adapting to changes in customer demands, easing employee transition to remote working and ensuring that timely production and development continue. However, keeping D&I at the forefront will likely help businesses address and adapt to these required changes.

How Will D&I Help in a Pandemic?

Not only are the benefits of D&I helpful to businesses attempting to combat the negative impacts of COVID-19, but they may also become essential factors in determining whether and how effectively the business is able to return to its pre-pandemic capabilities.

Effect on Discrimination Charges

As COVID-19 has spread, employment attorneys have witnessed an increase in discrimination charges filed against employers. Ensuring that a workforce has appropriate D&I training, including instructing employees (particularly managers and supervisors) to interact with others in a respectful and positive matter, is likely to reduce discrimination within the workplace.

However, employers must exercise caution when choosing the individual for firm to conduct D&I training, as inadequate trainings may result in misunderstanding and be ultimately ineffective. Although there are ample choices, employers should ensure that the training is tailored with the specific business in mind, paying particular attention as to how the leadership of the business may benefit from such training.

In addition, implementing D&I training will provide employers with an opportunity to revisit and improve existing anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, and anti-retaliation policies and to ensure the business is enforcing and abiding by such policies.

Read the complete article in the November/December 2020 issue of Corp! Magazine on page 6.

About the author:

Olivia HankinsonOlivia V. Hankinson counsels and advises business owners, managers and human resources professionals on various labor and employment related issues. These often involve concerns which may implicate employment laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act. Olivia represents employers with respect to unemployment insurance hearings, MIOSHA violation allegations, EEOC investigations, and other employment law matters. She also drafts employee handbooks, employment agreements, restrictive covenants, and various other employment policies.

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