COVID-19 Blog 4: Will corporate diversity initiatives go down the tubes during and after the pandemic?

Are your diversity initiatives going downhill during these trying times?

I really do have a fear that the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts across many organizations will be set back several years during this time of the Coronavirus pandemic. If DEI is truly a strategic initiative for organizations to thrive and grow into the future, why should things stop now?

In January, before all this COVID-19 stuff really started, I wrote a two part blog series:
Part 1 (Link): Huge Gaps in Diversity in Business Leadership – A Systemic Issue Needing a Systemic Approach
Part 2 (Link): Five Tactics to Address the System Issue of the Lack of Diverse Business Leaders

In Part 2, the 4th tactic I shared was “never letting up”. I shared that often executives see a little progress (“we now have an African-American in the c-Suite, women in management has gone up from 18% to 20%”) and then the budget gets cut and work stops. Then things will take their natural course and revert back to the old pattern. Dr. Vida Robertson, professor at the University of Houston, often states “you cannot take the foot of the gas or the vehicle will stop.” In this case, since it is an uphill battle, the car will go backwards once you take your foot off the gas!

Over the past 3 months, I have seen every in-person diversity training initiative I had scheduled between March and June cancelled, with little or no effort to reschedule or consider going web-based. In fact, even one 4-week webinar training series was cancelled since the organizers felt people would have too many other things to worry about instead of diversity.

My largest fear is that when we slowly reopen the country, that many corporate budgets will be slashed to try to turn out a decent annual profit statement, and diversity efforts will be one of the first items severely cut.

And then the ramifications could end up being:
• The predominately white male senior leadership will retain more of the leaders like themselves, impacting employment and promotion opportunities for under-represented minorities. And it wouldn’t be deliberate or mean-spirited, but simply unconscious bias taking its natural course.
• Diversity recruiting efforts may be cut resulting in less hires of qualified diverse candidates.
• Respectful workplace training would be cut, and some employees may revert back to old habits of forming non-diverse teams and making their diverse co-workers feel unwelcomed.
• Some companies may experience additional revenue drop as they fail to effectively sell and market to diverse customers.
• Philanthropic giving to diverse community organizations may be curtailed.

Interaction with diverse people may be less frequent during these days of social isolation.

Organizations need to realize that in challenging days, an increased focus on diversity, equity and inclusion is warranted. Tactics you may want to consider at this time include:

• Offering web-based DEI training to your employees, especially those who may have a decreased workload at this time and capacity to take some online trainings. In fact here is one being offered on June 9th: Introduction to LGBTQ+ Workplace Equity.  Options can include general offerings or having your own customized training.
• Doing some strategic work and planning and how you can advance DEI initiatives in a more virtual workplace.
• Encouraging diversity councils and employee resource groups to meet virtually during this time.
• Encouraging one-on-one virtual employee connections or mentoring relationships be formed with a focus on connecting with dissimilar people.

Embrace diversity even more during these challenging days!

Happy New Year – My Top 7 Blogs of 2019

One of my top blogs of the year just published in mid December deals with how the huge proliferation of robocalls are ruining our lives and productivity.

I am now enjoying this annual tradition of reviewing my website statistics for the past entire year and listing my top seven most read blogs as a New Year feature.  And this year, since there was a tie for 7th, I will feature 8 blogs.

I normally blog about my two areas of consulting a few times each month: Diversity with a specialization in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) workplace and marketplace; and career and skills development based on my innovative Total Engagement Career Mapping process. And once in a while I throw in a more personal blog or rant about something that is irking me.

In 2019, only three of my top 8 were published this year; the rest were first published in previous years, but people are finding them by web searching on various topics. Six of the top 8 dealt with some kind of diversity topic, one was around career development, and one a personal rant about the dramatic disturbing increase in robocalls.

Here are the “Top 7 of 2019” in reverse order:

7) Tied for number 7 was a blog about including people with mental illness in the diversity discussion. It featured a game-changing organization, the Farm at Penny Lane, and its many innovative programs to integrate people with severe mental illness into the mainstream.

Also at number 7 was a blog that reached this height for the year even though it was not published until mid-December and only had a few weeks to run. It’s title: “Help this blog go viral and create a movement – shut down all robocalls.” Robocalls are ruining our way of life and destroying productivity.

6) Blog #6 was also published in December and reached this level quite quickly – In “Five Examples of LGBTQ Equality – It’s Equal Rights, Not Special Rights,” I dispel this myth of so-called “special rights” by sharing five examples.

5) Number 5 was the 2014 – 2016 number 1,the 2017 #2, and the 2018 #3, actually published way back in 2011! As many people search for online resources about diversity training, they found and read my 2011 blog “Three Components of Diversity Training,” where I discuss three major components required for diversity training and exactly who within an enterprise should be trained. I have also updated that blog to include links to more resources including to a blog sharing a sample outline of diversity and inclusion training contents.

An illustration of a partial career map as interest in skills and career development grows.

4) My fourth most popular blog was last year’s number 5 – “Three Wonderful Recent Examples of Diversity and Sports,” in which I provide short summaries with links about an NFL football player with one hand, an WNBA player who is a new mother with her wife, and a college track star who overcame a harsh abusive upbringing in Africa.

3) And a surprising number 3 this year was my blog published way back in 2011 on using career mapping as a tool for career development. This new-comer to the list may signal an increased focus on the importance of investing in skills and career development as a way to recruit and retain the best employees. You may also want to check out my 11-question Skills Development and Career Road Mapping organizational self-assessment.

2) Number 2 for the second year in a row was “Seven Misconceptions or Stereotypes of Hispanic People”, a guest piece written in 2016 by my part-time bilingual consultant on staff, Elsa Maria Jimenez Salgado.

2019 Pair Skating Champion Timothy LeDuc (center with partner Ashley Cain-Dribble, my parents and me) is one of my featured out gay skaters – he’s a great community advocate

1) And finally, by a complete runaway with over 13,000 hits across the two blogs was last year’s Seven More Fabulous Out Gay Men of Figure Skating (and One Bisexual Woman) and my 2016 personal labor of love which included several personal photos that I took, “Seven Fabulous Out Gay Men of Figure Skating.”

Thanks to all the readers who enjoy and share my blogs. In 2020, if you want to be notified each time I do publish, you can like my business facebook page (Link), or if you subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter, I include a short summary and links to the past month’s writings.

Wishing all my readers a wonderful 2020 filled with much contentment, success and probably a wild and crazy US Presidential election year!