The COVID-19 pandemic brought employee wellness to the fore. And, not surprisingly, women have had singular experiences during the public health crisis. According to McKinsey’s 2021 Women in the Workplace report, female employees have experienced a greater degree of burnout during the pandemic than in previous years. This is, in part, due to working from home. Women tend to have a larger share of domestic and childcare responsibilities than their male counterparts.
In response, organizations have extended various benefits such as flexible work hours and access to homeschooling to ease the transition. And there’s been a renewed focus on gender diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), at least in some quarters.
What is DEI?
DEI refers to workplace initiatives that aim to:
- Hire and promote employees fairly
- Increase diverse representation in management roles
- Educate employees and managers about cultural competence, stereotyping, and unconscious biases
- Foster an empathetic environment where employees feel safe (from microaggressions and sexual harassment) and heard
What Are Some Examples of Microaggressions?
Sexism and racism rear their heads in the corporate world in myriad ways and women of color struggle with a dual burden of discrimination. Microaggressions that take a toll on women employees include:
- Being mistaken for someone in a less senior position
- Having your judgment questioned
- Having to work harder than others to prove competence
- Being labeled as an affirmative hire when you merit your role
- Experiencing disrespect and being exposed to humiliating comments about your demographic
What Benefits Are There to DEI Initiatives?
Gender diversity initiatives increase job satisfaction and thus help with employee retention. A diverse workforce that reflects society can facilitate novel ideas and strengthen companies operating in a modern, global business environment. This progressive growth approach helps to attract top-tier talent.
What Are the Current Trends in Gender DEI?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, women leaders did more to further gender diversity and DEI than men in senior positions, even when doing so was not within the ambit of their formal responsibilities. Unfortunately, they weren’t recognized for their efforts.
In addition, burnout has led some women to consider quitting their jobs or dialing back their career progression.
How Can DEI Outcomes Improve in the Workplace?
Ultimately, it comes down to holding regular training sessions, having sincere c-suite buy-in and accountability at the upper management level, and monetary incentives for achieving key performance indicators such as:
- More women in leadership positions
- Job satisfaction among women or genderqueer employees
- More mentorship opportunities and the uptake of them among historically excluded demographics
- Positive perceptions of company culture among workplace minorities
The Bottom Line
Corporates should prioritize the dignity and professional advancement of all employees. Consistent and impactful diversity, equity and inclusivity (DEI) training can turn theory into action and change tomorrow’s workplace for the better.
Jeffrey K. Silverman, 25 years resident of the former Soviet Union, since October 1991, resides in Tbilisi Georgia worked with Radio Free Europe, crime, corruption and terrorism report. USAR, 100th Division Training, Fort Knox and Blue Grass Army Chemical Weapons Depot, ROTC program, University of Kentucky bases: decorated non-wartime veteran, 19D, Calvary Scout. Jeffrey has a track record in breaking through language barriers and bureaucracies to perform due diligence under unconventional circumstances.
He has also served as Editor-in-Chief of the Georgian Times and Azerbaijan Today, whilst undertaking freelance journalism and due diligence for various confidential clients. Has specialized in conflict zones, mostly in Georgia, Azerbaijan, and countries of Central Asia; MSc Degree plus University of Kentucky, provided with full-tuition scholarship based on Cherokee roots and academic standing, family escaped “trail of tears” while passing Ohio in the harsh winter; one set of Eastern European grandparents: Lithuanian-Polish Jews.
Completed advanced degree, MSc plus 40 credits, in cooperation with Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, studied theoretical frameworks for the analysis of political systems, conflict resolution, international science, and technology policy.