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D&I in a Covid-19 world

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As this pandemic exploded, we faced a global health crisis, widespread economic uncertainty, a rapid shift to working from home and the responsibility of #keepingtheworldconnected, in a matter of just a few short weeks.

While we are all still affected by what is happening around the world, we cannot ignore the growing body of evidence that women and people of colour are disproportionately affected. The pandemic acts against diversity & inclusion through the increased burden family & childcare, loss of jobs, salary adjustments, furloughs, layoffs, diversity & inclusion budget cuts, as well as other unmeasured metrics that haven’t come to light yet.

While it is evident that we need to take specific measures to mitigate this adverse impact, we also have an opportunity here to learn from these challenges and further strategise on ways to improve diversity, inclusion and belonging in our workforce. 

Before the world went into lockdown, experts predicted that remote working would rival in-office presence by 2025, fast forward a couple of months, and we’ve surpassed that in the space of 10 weeks. Remote work comes with many benefits for improving diversity and inclusion that our industry can take great advantages of.

We’re suddenly receiving unprecedented visibility into each other’s homes during virtual meetings. Our conversations have noticeably shifted over the last few months and now often include chat around personal challenges and needs, and even workplace policies are changing to include a plethora of accessible resources and practices, taking into account how we all differ as individuals, parents and care takers.

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Working from home also translates into a crucial tool for employees with care responsibilities, who are, according to a recent UN study, mostly women. We know that the burden of care limits the economic opportunities of women globally. Women carry out at least two and a half times more unpaid household and care work than men, which is not accounted for in economic assessments of the impact of COVID-19. Remote work can help companies to tap into this large talent pool while creating opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds to succeed.

Across sectors, companies are recognising that they have the chance to open up positions to a more geographically diverse workforce, therefore eliminating location bias and the talent that was previously excluded. On the subject of recruitment, the current slowdown in hiring is also an opportunity to examine hiring procedures, reduce bias and use this time to develop more equitable hiring practices ready for the next ramp up.

It’s critical that many of these practices we’ve quickly become accustomed to stay in place in order to build on the progress that we, as an industry, have committed to. We should also, as individuals, be exploring the areas where we still fall behind our D&I goals and remain aware that some of our colleagues are facing added pressure and inequalities and try to support them. Through this pandemic, we’ve gained a greater understanding and appreciation for our colleagues and business partners around the world. It’s also highlighted a very important fact – we aren’t just one thing; intersectionality matters and diversity & inclusion should matter to us all.

On 29 September at the Global Women in Telco & Tech Summit, we will take a deep dive into how the pandemic has changed our ways of working and what we can do to keep pushing the movement for equality forward in this new landscape. In the meantime, we are looking to award champions of inclusion and diversity in our industry, through the Global Women in Telco & Tech Awards. Nominations for the awards close on 28 August, so do not miss your opportunity to spotlight the amazing talents of women in our sector and validate your company’s mission to achieve a gender-balanced workforce. Visit our website for more information. 

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