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Don’t Let the Shift to Remote Work Sabotage Your Inclusion Initiatives

Sometimes it’s easy for things to fall off the radar if they aren’t right in front of us. The latest Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) research suggests that may be just what’s happening to Diversity & Inclusion initiatives in a significant number of companies that have shifted to remote work in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

A new pulse survey of D&I leaders found 27% reporting that their organizations have put all or most D&I initiatives on hold because of their response to the pandemic. The same percentage note a decrease in mentoring and ERG/BRG (employee/business resource group) activity. And 12% say that D&I is less of a consideration when companies are making decisions about such workforce changes as reductions, promotions, special assignments and compensation.

Which, if any, of the following has your organization experienced or initiated during the pandemic?

What has your org done during the pandemic

An all-that-apply response option means total exceeds 100% 

With all the challenges organizations and individuals are facing at present, this is no time to fall back on the tendency to regard D&I initiatives as nice-to-haves (versus business imperatives). Or to forget the returns that investments in D&I can realize in supporting culture, business strategy, leadership diversity, organizational performance, employee engagement and other vital corporate concerns.

 In fact, the good news delivered by the survey findings demonstrates that many organizations clearly haven’t forgotten. On the positive side: 

  • 82% of respondents have increased use of inclusive virtual meeting practices
  • 74% say they’ve gained a better understanding of employees’ personal situations and needs
  • 16% report more mentoring and ERG/BRG activity
  • 6% say they see greater consideration of D&I in workforce-related decision-making 

Companies engaging in those positive practices understand that, while the COVID-19 health threats will, ultimately, pass, organizations’ responses to current work challenges can have long-lasting effects—on talent brand, employee and customer sentiment, and more.

Now is the time to visibly focus on the ROI of D&I to ensure that companies keep in place the programs that help strengthen communication and connections with diverse employees. Those programs will help ensure that you have the capable, dedicated constituents who will help their organizations through the new and different challenges still to come when recovery eventually arrives.

Among other areas of interest explored by the D&I pulse survey: whether companies are providing resources to ensure women and minorities maintain visibility while working remotely (few are), the well-being resources organizations are sharing with their workforces (mental health support tops the list) and whether D&I teams are seeing their job functions change. 

Download the full survey results—due to the current global health and productivity crisis affecting everyone, i4cp is making all related ongoing research publicly available.

We also encourage you to visit for other employer resources including discussion forums, next practices, useful resources, and more.

Carol Morrison
Carol Morrison is a Senior Research Analyst and Associate Editor with the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), specializing in workforce well-being research.