During these months of living through the Coronavirus pandemic, I will continue to writing blogs about my diversity, career development and leadership consulting through the lens of living through this pandemic.
Questions to ponder – how does what we truly think about diversity and inclusion manifest itself differently during this interesting time we are living through? Can some routine daily interactions show us how we may really feel about diversity?
I would like to share a story shared by a Black professional colleague of mine. In a recent trip to a home supply store, he needed some advice about a product he was buying for one of his home improvement projects. He was directed to a middle-aged white female employee who was the expert on that particular product line. As he approached her, when he was maybe 8-10 feet away, the woman stuck out her arm and hand in the “stop” movement reminding him to remember the social distancing rules. He asked his questions standing about 8 feet away.
Ten minutes later, my colleague saw the same store employee having another interaction with a white female customer with about two or three feet of distance between them.
So now some hard questions need to be asked:
• Was the store employee really worried about social distancing, or was it perhaps more of an uneasiness around men, black people, or black men that dictated her behavior?
• Did the store employee perhaps think that it was more likely that she could catch the virus from a black person than from a white person? I hope you all have been hearing about how the Coronavirus is disproportionately impacting minority communities.
• During this time of sheltering at home and social distancing, are we all going to have less and less interaction with diverse people?
• Finally, raising this up from a personal experience discussion to a broader discussion, what can we learn and what can we do about the statistics showing that minorities in the US are catching and dying from the virus at extremely higher rates than the white majority?
Now, on the positive side, I have now started watching the 6:00 World News Tonight on ABC and I really appreciate the wide range of gender, racial and cultural diversity of medical professionals shown and interviewed in the stories.
As our country and the world continues to unite to fight this insidious virus, let’s keep in the front of our minds the continue progress we need to make in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion. As we do more virtual interaction, lets also keep in mind:
1) That we can use this time to set up connections and interactions with diverse people from ourselves
2) To remember the economically challenged people who may not even have the technology or the living space to even connect to outside world.