Inclusivity matters as the post-pandemic workplace changes  - Joy Lewis

It’s no secret that 2020 turned the workplace on its head. While most of us have found ways to keep things moving and stay connected, the jury is still out on what the workplace will look like as we recover from Covid-19.

Joy Lewis, CEO, AAI EmployAbility

While some suggested the pandemic would be a “great equaliser”, reporting has shown quite the opposite, and that the socio-economic inequalities that existed previously have only been exacerbated.

As the good news of vaccines and various employment-focused initiatives roll out across the UK, we come to a fork in the road. This is a time to either revert to our old ways or to make changes in our society, rectifying the issues that existed pre-pandemic, such as workplace inequality. I’d like to consider some of the potential positives of a post-pandemic employment landscape, as well as some social lessons we’d be remiss to forget as we look to rebuild the economy.

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Fully embracing remote work

Equality of opportunity depends on us welcoming different experiences

Staff enjoy the autonomy and the opportunity to shape how they work. Technology has helped to keep us connected and by now those companies still hiring have navigated this and are onboarding virtually.

In recruiting, remote working vastly expands available talent pools, allowing for greater access to candidates from underrepresented groups, negating lazy excuses that the talent ‘isn’t there.’ It also offers greater opportunities for people with disabilities to work how they want to, with one disabled candidate I spoke to recently telling me how much more energy they have now they can work from home.

As we consider how a mix of office and home-based work will manifest itself going forward, we must take a remote-first approach when looking for talent, considering how to best integrate them with other team members with regular check-ins, reminders of company values and HR initiatives that help people to feel connected and included.

Gender equality and embracing returners

A recent study showed that women are 1.8 times more vulnerable to redundancy caused by the pandemic than men and, while women make up 39 per cent of the global workforce, 54 per cent of job losses have been among women.

In this demographic, businesses must consider those returning to work after a career break; allowing flexible working around childcare and home life, and not underestimating what this woman returner audience has to offer.

Getting serious about racial equality

Since companies around the world pledged their support for Black Lives Matter last summer, jobseekers, employees, and customers have been looking to see how those promises will translate into action.

The employment rate for minority ethnic groups in Scotland is 15% lower than that of the white population, and significantly worse for minority ethnic women, whose employment rate is 20% lower than white women.

Racial diversity is not a ‘nice to have’ initiative, but a business-critical imperative, and one that employment can lead on.

In summary

By considering how ‘equality of opportunity’ can enrich our teams, and having a more open-minded approach to how we hire and how we work, we can create environments where innovation, resilience and adaptability can come from welcoming different voices, different values, different experiences and approaches to work. I- imperative when navigating whatever the next year has in store for us.

Joy Lewis, CEO, AAI EmployAbility


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