5 ways tech leaders can address racial inequity, from diversity expert and tech CEO Cheryl Ingram

cheryl ingram

Dr. Cheryl Ingram has seen the statements from tech companies this week, expressing outrage over the death of George Floyd and speaking out against the racial inequities in our society.

Now it’s time for leaders to go beyond talk and take action, she says. Actually, the time was long ago. But now would work.

Tech has “a huge responsibility,” Ingram said, not only due to the prevalence of bias in the industry against women, people of color and people with disabilities, but because of the potential for tech companies to have a positive impact.

“If the tech industry comes together and really starts to fight for change, we’re going to see change happen much faster in our country,” she said.

Ingram is the CEO and founder of consulting firm Diverse City and tech startup Inclusology, which is developing a tech platform for diversity, equity and inclusion assessments inside companies. Ingram shifted Diverse City’s operations to L.A. in 2018 but remains engaged with the Seattle community.

We’re featuring her story on this episode of the GeekWire Podcast, including a conversation from last fall and a follow-up discussion this week in which she addressed the tech industry’s role in the racial inequities in society.

As part of our discussion, Ingram presented several concrete steps for tech leaders to take to start to solve the problem.

Support non-profits run by people directly impacted by these problems. “When you look at the profits that you have in your company, you need to take some of that money and reinvest it in the community in a sustainable way. I don’t mean just giving it to nonprofits that are run by white leaders who have a white savior complex. … Look at the people who are victims, who are doing the work. I’m not saying other organizations are not worthy. But when we think about financial disparities, that even exists in the nonprofit industrial complex.”

Support laws and take action to stop gentrification. “When you move into an area and you push out small businesses owned by disadvantaged business owners, you need to be finding a way to give them stipends so they can afford to exist, or you need to be fighting for the cost of living to be equitable, for everybody that’s impacted, and just not the income that you offer.”

Elevate, empower and embrace internal voices. “Many of you have social responsibility programs and employee resource groups. You need to be giving those groups spaces to not just be there, but to also have impact in the decisions that you make, when you go into communities that fit into their identity. … The feedback that they give you based on the experiences that they have in the community needs to be applied to what you do accordingly, and not just to meeting your business case and your bottom line.”

Invest more money into diversity, equity and inclusion. “DEI is not a program or initiative. It needs to be interwoven into everything that you do. It needs to be in your hiring, it needs to be in your recruiting, it needs to be in your promotion, it even needs to be in the way that you fire people.”

Understand the communities from which you recruit: “If you look at the qualifications and where those are lacking, most of that is because of racial disparities within our communities. If you’re going to go into communities and recruit people from those communities, you need to do some research and development on the challenges that they have.”

Ultimately, Ingram says, she’s optimistic about the potential for meaningful change.

“I think it’s going to take a lot of pain and suffering, unfortunately, which I really don’t want to see,” she said. “Whenever great change happens in this country, it’s because we have to work really hard to overthrow the powers that be that create racial disparities for us. If there are people in powerful positions who don’t see what’s happening in the world, and they don’t acknowledge it, we’re going to have a hell of a time getting them out of the way. But we need to, or they need to change.”

“If you want to see change, first you have to change,” she said, “and if you’re not willing to change, then your position of power needs to change.”

Listen to the full podcast with Cheryl Ingram above, and follow her on LinkedIn

LinkedIn Offers Free Courses in Diversity and Inclusion to Improve Community Understanding

linkedin diversity training

inkedIn has made a range of LinkedIn Learning courses on diversity and inclusion available for free, in an effort to help more people understand how to best address these key issues.

As explained by LinkedIn:

“We all play an important role in moving toward a more equitable workplace and world. We hope these free courses help you on this journey. “

The courses, included within the LinkedIn Learning “Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging for All” stream, cover a range of key elements, including unconscious bias, addressing culturally sensitive issues, how to hire and retain diverse talent, and more.

LinkedIn has long been working to address economic inequality, which touches on many similar points, with outgoing CEO Jeff Weiner now taking on a new role in which he’ll make this his key focus.

By facilitating more opportunity within all communities, and providing more pathways to improved understanding, LinkedIn can play a signficant role in improving the various elements within the chain that can contribute to broader inequality. Providing more ways for people to use its learning platform to develop their understanding of the same can also be significant, particularly given LinkedIn’s access to professional and educational insights that can help highlight gaps which need to be addressed.

In addition to this, LinkedIn is also looking to support the #BlackLivesMatter movement by sharing perspectives from black employees on its social media profiles.

LinkedIn

@LinkedIn

Being a strong ally begins with listening, so we are sharing stories to amplify perspectives from the Black community. https://lnkd.in/dGqW5Gj 

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Education is a key element in improving the situation, and providing pathways to improved understanding is essential to facilitating progress.

As such, this is a good move from LinkedIn, and may provide a means for more people to educate themselves on the essential concerns of the movement.

You can take the free “Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging for All” courses here.

Remote work will be a legacy of pandemic; job losses may not be over, survey finds

remote work

KEY POINTS
  • Companies expect an increased portion of their workforce to remain working remotely even after the pandemic passes, according to a Conference Board survey released Wednesday of 152 human capital executives.
  • The survey revealed that most employers have implemented some form of workforce cost reductions, and many plan to continue to do so this summer.
  • Additional workforce cost reductions are more likely in organizations that employ mostly industry and manual services workers.
  • A majority of companies surveyed expect to return to pre-pandemic revenue levels within the next 12 months.

Remote work may be the most influential legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic. That’s according to a survey released Wednesday by the Conference Board.

The nonpartisan think tank polled 152 human capital executives from April 15–28, primarily from large U.S.-based companies, to gauge how organizations are reacting to the changing business environment in the context of their workforces. Executives responding were from a broad range of industries, with more than 60% representing business and professional services, manufacturing and health-care sectors.

The study, titled “From Immediate Responses to Planning for the Reimagined Workplace,” found that 77% of respondents expect that the number of employees working primarily from home (at least three days a week) will increase post-pandemic.

Prior to the pandemic, respondents said that less than 10 percent of their workforce primarily worked from home, now they anticipate that number will greatly increase, with at least a quarter of their workforce working from home a year from now.

Percentage of US full-time employees working primarily from home (at least 3 days a week) before Covid-19 and expectation 12 months post pandemic

The anticipated increase in remote work will likely have broad implications for the economy — particularly consumer spending. The reason: Less commuters heading into work means there will be fewer patrons in restaurants and less people shopping in the surrounding retail stores. Further, demand for housing and office space in major metropolitan areas could also decline.

“One positive of this shift to long-term remote work is that the pool of talent to choose from will be greater,” explains Robin Erickson, Ph.D, a principal researcher in human capital for the Conference Board and an author of the study.

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According to the study, it is unlikely that hiring will see a meaningful uptick anytime soon. The survey found that over the next few months, most companies polled plan on requiring employees to take paid time off or vacation time, defer pay and implement furloughs. Few respondents indicated they expect to implement furloughs without benefits or reduce 401(k) contributions. While major restructuring is unlikely for most of those surveyed, 9%  plan to implement a large-scale change in organizational structure.

The survey also revealed that organizations with more industrial and manual services workers are much more likely to implement furloughs with benefits, conduct permanent layoffs, require employees to use paid time off or vacation and cut salaries and wages than organizations with more professional and office workers.

Workforce responses to Covid-19

“Top factors that determine the severity of a company’s workforce cost reductions include the ability to continue doing one’s job remotely and the ability to safely return to the workplace,” said Conference Board economist Frank Steemers, who also co-authored the study.

Respondents were surprisingly optimistic when it came to the economy: More than 55% of respondents from organizations that experienced a decline in revenue after Covid-19 expect to return to pre-crisis revenue levels within the next 12 months, with the balance of respondents saying they believe it won’t snap back until after April 2021. Only 4% do not anticipate revenue ever returning to pre-Covid levels.

When will US-based revenue return to pre-Covid-19 levels chart

Covid-19 is also likely to profoundly affect companies’ policies and structure even after the worst of the pandemic passes. When asked to prioritize the five most significant changes that will take place at their organization during the recovery phase, most respondents listed, in descending order, remote work, disaster recovery plans, health and safety measures in the workplace, flexibility and remote work policies and employee engagement.

 

These two charts show the lack of diversity in the House and Senate

house senate diversity

KEY POINTS
  • Both chambers of Congress are largely composed of white people.
  • But the number of nonwhite lawmakers has gradually increased in the House at a faster rate than in the Senate.
  • The 116th Congress overall is the most diverse since 1930, according to a CNBC visualization of data from the Brookings Institution.

The House has become more diverse at a faster rate than the Senate, a CNBC analysis shows, but both chambers are still predominantly white.

The number of nonwhite lawmakers has gradually increased in the House at a faster rate than in the Senate.

Congress overall is the most diverse it’s ever been, according to a CNBC visualization of data from the Brookings Institution.

In the House and Senate, at least 114 lawmakers are either African American, Asian or Hispanic, meaning that more than 1 in 5 lawmakers in the 116th Congress is a person of color and nearly 8 in 10 are white.

The data also shows there are far more Democratic than Republican people of color.

Here is a breakdown of the number of people in Congress by race:

  • African American: 53 representatives, 3 senators
  • Asian American: 12 representatives, 3 senators
  • Hispanic American: 39 representatives, 4 senators

Since 1870, 162 African Americans have served in Congress, according to congressional data from EveryCRSReport.com. Of those, 152 have served in the House while nine have served in the Senate. One has served in both chambers.

Though both chambers appear to be getting more diverse with each election cycle, the number of white lawmakers still remains disproportionate to the racial breakdown of Americans in the United States.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that in 2019, 60.4% of Americans identified as white only, excluding those who identified as Hispanic or Latino.

But about 79% of Congress is white, according to the Brookings data.

Nationwide Protests Highlight the Need for Greater Diversity in Media

protest media diversity

Over the past two days, publishers across the media industry have responded to protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd by issuing statements of solidarity with demonstrators calling for equality before the law and an end to racial injustice. Here’s another response they ought to consider: a firmer commitment to diversity and representation in their own ranks.

In many communities, protests this week have remained civil. But in others, demonstrations were met with violent force by police, or hijacked by others more interested in rioting and vandalism than peaceful expression. All of this played out as news outlets scrambled to cover the chaos unfolding before them faithfully and accurately, while in many cases reporters themselves were targets of pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets or other projectiles. Observers, including the President, have been quick to assign blame. Spin is everywhere. How is the public to make sense of it all?

Inevitably, much of the TV news coverage has emphasized destruction—images and footage of businesses engulfed in flames, smashed storefronts and burning vehicles—rather than the reasons people had taken to the streets to begin with. As they always have, magazines and other outlets that prioritize long-form journalism provide the necessary real estate for more nuanced discussions that can reset popular narratives when they begin to stray too far from the truth, but they can only do so effectively if their staffs and leadership accurately represent the communities they cover.

If America is to heal, the collective outrage that is now boiling over must accelerate a national conversation about implicit bias: not overt racism that requires little courage to reject, but that which lies deeper below the surface. The blind spots. The failures of understanding. The disparities in the benefit of the doubt.

A 2018 study from Pew Research Center found that newsroom employees in the U.S. are significantly more likely to be white and male than U.S. workers overall, and indications suggest that this disconnect was only exacerbated by layoffs that have ravaged the industry over the past two years.

“A lot of times, those people tend to be the last ones hired and the first ones to be laid off,” said Gregory Moore, editor of The Denver Post from 2002 to 2016, in an interview with Democracy Now last month. “And so, one of the things you begin to see is the whitening of the media.”

The phenomenon described by Moore has already been borne out at Sports Illustrated, where layoffs have unbelievably left the publication with no black writers, according to a May 29 statement from the magazine’s union.

“Newsrooms must amplify voices of color to better cover the systemic racism that led to George Floyd’s death,” the statement reads. “The layoffs of the last year have left SI with no black staff writers—we are part of the problem. We will bargain for practices to improve our diversity and inclusion.”

For emphasis: a national publication devoted to covering sports, so often the venue in which the most visible challenges to society’s status quo have played out, has no black writers on staff.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the media industry, it’s also disproportionately impacted black communities, an economic and public health crisis that has laid bare systemic inequality and can’t be ignored as the backdrop to demonstrations across the country.

“The obstacle course black business owners have to navigate to get federal aid—compounded with climbing unemployment rates—foreshadows an economic depression in black communities,” wrote Patrice Peck, founder of the weekly newsletter, “Coronavirus News For Black Folks,” in a New York Times op-ed this week.

Peck continues:

The diversity reports that a few historically white publications release each year show that black writers, data journalists, editors, designers, illustrators, photographers, and audience and social media strategists are wildly outnumbered by their white peers. So we often become the go-to person when our colleagues need “sensitivity checks,” an invisible labor that typically goes unpaid, even though outside consultants charge exorbitant fees for it.

We are celebrated for our contributions during heritage months and given leadership positions in employee resource groups. But we are still glaringly underrepresented in management roles. All of this in a workplace where microaggressions, biases and discrimination occur as often in conference rooms, in Slack groups and even during happy hours as on sidewalks patrolled by police officers and in hospitals where black patients exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms are sent home.

One solution for helping ensure a better, more just future for all Americans could be other outlets following the lead of SI staffers and auditing themselves, a practice still extremely rare in the industry despite the consistent lip service paid by executives to the importance of diversity and inclusion.

Asked for tangible results, magazine publishers will often point to success at reducing or eliminating gender-based pay gaps, or broader representation among cover stars and speakers at conference panels—all important, admirable and necessary considerations, but the road shouldn’t end there.

“The common solutions to the failures in diversity follow a well-worn path,” wrote LaSharah S. Bunting, director of journalism at the non-profit Knight Foundation in August. “Convene a diversity committee to provide a set of recommendations for its leadership to choose from; focus on hiring more journalists of color, but essentially disregard why others can’t be retained; or appoint a leader to address diversity and inclusion, but in a role that often lacks true power and resources. While these approaches can have some positive impact, they rarely address the institutional racism and unconscious biases that pervade many news organizations.”

If one of the few national outlets that willingly provides a glimpse into the makeup of its newsroom and management, The New York Times, indicates that it still has work to do in assembling a staff that reflects the diversity of the communities it covers, what does it suggest about the rest of the industry?

I recognize that this column is published on a website whose full-time editorial staff consists of two white men. To date, our efforts with regard to inclusion have largely focused on equal representation of men and women as sources in our coverage and speakers at our events. That isn’t enough, and we pledge to do our part to make sure our coverage better represents the broad industry we serve.

As arbiters of narrative and gatekeepers of information, more publishers with large national platforms should join The New York Times, as well as others like NPR and Buzzfeed, in providing transparency and assuming accountability for the makeup of their editorial teams and executive leadership. If nothing else, added pressure to think proactively about why existing policies often fail would be a good start. Diversity and inclusion aren’t blue sky ideas that can be abandoned when times get tough; they are an imperative that the industry needs to prioritize in order to ensure its future.

Michael Dell On Racial Injustice: “I’ve Always Believed Diversity Is Power”

dell

The murder of George Floyd is an atrocity. We all stand in horror, grieving as a nation alongside his family and his community. To see a man killed, a life ended cruelly and senselessly is something that will haunt me forever’ says Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO, Dell Technologies

Dell Technologies Chairman and CEO Michael Dell on Monday took to Twitter to share a letter sent to all Dell employees in which he asked them space for tough conversations on how to drive positive socio-economic change for communities of color and find ways to make the changes to be an employer of choice for everyone.

Dell, who normally stays behind the scenes with his philanthropy, publicly addressed the issue in what is for him was uncharacteristically strong language.

“The murder of George Floyd is an atrocity,” he wrote. “We all stand in horror, grieving as a nation alongside his family and his community. To see a man killed, a life ended cruelly and senselessly is something that will haunt me forever. But for people of color in communities all over this country and around the world — that footage is not a surprise, it is all too familiar. The fault lines of our society are laid bare. From the devastating and disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 to the devastating impacts of police brutality, the long-standing racial injustice in America that began 400 years ago is impossible to ignore. And the people who have been ignored are now demanding to be heard. We are listening.”

[Related: Andy Jassy, Other Tech Leaders Denounce Racism After George Floyd’s Death]

Dell wrote he recently had a meeting with black employees to get their views on how the company is doing in terms of creating a company where all team members feel safe and valued.

The key lesson was the need to create space for tough conversations, have greater leadership accountability, and take actions to help drive positive socio-economic change for communities of color, Dell wrote.

“I am optimistic about what we’ve built at Dell, of our culture that’s designed to support every team member in reaching their full potential, and of our vision for where we’re going,” he wrote. “I am optimistic about what we’ve built at Dell. … I’ve always believed diversity is power. It’s how we win and win the right way. We can lead by example into our inclusive culture. We can lead by example and surround each other in love and support when we need it most.”

Looking forward, Dell is encouraging employees and partners to join its Black Networking Alliance employee resource group in an upcoming moment of reflection to hear from those most affected by the recent violence. In addition, Brian Reave, Dell Technologies’ chief diversity and inclusion officer, will be talking with employees and partners to find new ways to invest in ways to help drive measurable positive change.

“Because for all the work we do within our own company, there will never be true justice or equality until we root out the rotten underbelly of racism that is eating away at the most cherished values we hold dear,” he wrote “Real change requires us all to actively participate in the hard work that lies ahead … the hard work that has to be done for our nation and our world to heal, grow stronger, and for us to move forward as one people with a shared voice.”

Dell’s comments echoed those of some of the IT industry’s top executives who are concerned about both the issue of racial injustice and the riots that have followed.

This includes comments from Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware, which is also owned by Dell Technologies. Gelsinger Monday said via twitter, “During this time of great global hardship, even more acutely within the black community, we’re all deeply reminded how much we must be neighbors. Today my prayer is for equality – there is no time or place for racial injustice.”

Michael Dell should be applauded for taking such a strong public stand on this issue, said Michael Tanenhaus, principal at Mavenspire, an Annapolis, Md.-based solution provider and Dell channel partner.

“It’s rare to see the CEOs of large public companies take such a stand,” Tanenhaus told CRN. “CEOs typically take PR (public relations) training to be neutral about politics and similar issues, and leave it to others to take the stands. But now the dam has burst. Dell and others are taking a stand. We’re seeing some pretty awful stuff. We need to be together on this.”

Society of Women Engineers: Taking a Stand For Diversity and Inclusion

take a stand

We must stand together to demand justice and work together to turn our pain into purpose.

The Society of Women Engineers is angered and saddened by the recent events in Minneapolis that led to the death of George Floyd.  As an organization we vehemently denounce racism!  Systemic racism faced by those of color in our communities across the United Sates has become all too familiar.  We must stand together to demand justice and work together to turn our pain into purpose.  Nothing will change if those outside the impacted communities stand by and do nothing.  We must be true allies, standing shoulder to shoulder, asking the tough questions of our civic leaders.

To support increased participation of women and minorities in engineering, SWE became a founding member of the 50K Coalition.  Since 2015, together with the American Indian Society of Engineers and Scientists (AISES), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), we have been working together, using the collective impact model, to increase the numbers of engineering graduates from underrepresented populations to 50,000 by 2025.  Moreover, we have Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the above-mentioned groups supporting initiatives like joint membership, research and public policy.  This year we are working on additional agreements with NOGLSTPoSTEM and SASE.

We also recognize that as an organization we have our own work to do. The lack of visible diversity in our leadership is palpable.  For the past several years, SWE leadership has focused on creating a more welcoming and inclusive environment within the Society.  While our efforts may not always achieve the goals we have set forth, we cannot hope to accomplish those goals if we do not actively focus on them.  And we acknowledge that as an organization we still have a lot of work to do. 

As an organization we are committed to our diversity and inclusion principles:

  • Developing women in engineering across socio economic strata and occupational focus
  • Encouraging interest in and active participation of women and girls of underrepresented groups including (but not limited to) African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans
  • Supporting women and respecting their differences in family status, sexual orientation, sexual identity, age and physical ability
  • Work collaboratively with men to confront gender bias and create a more inclusive engineering community

This year our SWE Senate has convened a sub-team to address the lack of diversity within our leadership pipeline.  And that work will continue in the next fiscal year.  We want to be solutions driven.  Our KPI metric dashboard tracks the diversity demographics of both our membership and our leadership. Details will be shared on swe.org and in the State of SWE conducted every spring. We are holding ourselves accountable and we expect our members and partners to hold us accountable as well.

SWE is a place for women of all backgrounds to come together and share unique perspectives and advance both themselves and the field of engineering. To members who are not happy with our lack of diverse leadership, we challenge you to be the change you want to see in the world.

Twitter Details Its Inclusion and Diversity Efforts During the Covid-19 Crisis

twitter diversity image

The company is leaning even more on its business resource groups

Twitter’s Inclusion & Diversity Report for May 2020 focused more on highlighting initiatives the company has put in place since the Covid-19 crisis than on data about hiring and workforce percentages.

Vice president of people experience and head of inclusion and diversity Dalana Brand said in a blog post, “Although the world doesn’t look the same since our last post, our commitment to inclusion and diversity at Twitter has never been stronger. Since our last update, we transitioned more than 5,000 tweeps to a fully virtual workforce, introduced new programs and benefits and doubled down on inclusion in the age of Covid-19. We’ve accomplished a lot––and learned some important lessons along the way.”

She added that Twitter’s efforts in the time of the coronavirus pandemic have been driven by four key principles:

Put people first––and really listen: Brand said Twitter created Slack channels specifically for questions about Covid-19, issued a global survey, hosted more global all-hands meetings to check in on employees and increased opportunities to connect virtually across teams, especially via the company’s business resource groups.

Brand wrote, “Working from home and trying to work at home during a global pandemic are different. So, we re-evaluated our global benefits to identify opportunities for enhancements. In addition to reimbursing expenses associated with tweeps’ WFH setup, we also increased our investments in mental and physical health benefits and explored ways to better support caregivers learning to navigate our new reality.”

Lead with empathy and flexibility: Twitter found that employees were having difficulty focusing, impacting their productivity, and this was especially true for people from communities of color, caregivers and those at higher risk of infection.

Brand said the company introduced resources to help managers prioritize their own well-being while performing their duties and to foster deeper empathy between managers and their direct reports.

Twitter also suspended 2020 performance ratings and took steps to enable the company to operate with a reduced workforce, if necessary.

The company teamed up with @TwitterParents on a special listening session for parents, finding that its recently introduced supplemental child care benefit was not helping due to shelter-in-place orders, so the alternative was flexible work schedules to enable employees to juggle work and family responsibilities, as well as coaching managers on dealing with asynchronous work.

Brand wrote, “And since there’s no keeping the kids out of the home office, we launched a weekly storytime with Twitter leadership to give everyone a break.”

Cultivate allyship: The company teamed up with @TwitterAsians to host “Flock Talks” for the entire company about Covid-19 and racism, and it brought together a cross-functional group of leaders from its BRGs and product, policy and trust and safety teams to a #TwitterTeamUp to discuss efforts to prevent misinformation about the coronavirus and anti-Asian rhetoric on the platform.

The social network also kicked off an #AllyshipRightNow campaign to address hate speech, encourage allyship and create a space where personal stories from the Asian community could be shared.

And the company has hosted a weekly series in which underrepresented communities call attention to the unique challenges they’re each facing during this crisis.

Double down on BRGs: Brand said membership and participation in Twitter’s BRGs is up over 30% since the beginning of the year, and it is taking steps to enhance new member onboarding, invest more in virtual events and accelerate expansion.

Twitter

With plans for Women’s History Month scuttled by the pandemic, @TwitterWomen hosted a virtual party featuring the stories of women from intersectional backgrounds worldwide, reaching over 400 employees across the globe.

The company’s newest BRG, @TwitterFaith, hosted its first-ever Ramadan 101 workshop, giving Muslim employees the opportunity to build community, and also giving their colleagues, team members and leaders a way to learn and practice allyship.

Brand wrote, “Spring, for so many people across the globe, marks holy months centered around faith, fellowship, family—and food. And so, @TwitterFaith launched #FaithFoodies. In the spirit of social distancing, tweeps opened their homes to host cooking demos for traditional dishes, sharing stories of their family’s holiday traditions.”

Finally, Brand addressed hiring during the pandemic, writing, “We’ve recently evaluated all of our open roles on our Careers site to ensure that those listed align to our most urgent business priorities. During these uncertain times, we’re being even more deliberate about hiring, development and promotions throughout the business in order to ensure that we’re still advancing our workplace representation goals … Our teams have been working hard to ensure that we can continue to bring the best and brightest talent to fill essential roles at Twitter. We know that times are tough right now, so we want to make it easier than ever to connect with us because we want you to #JoinTheFlock.”

TIME’S UP REVEALS NEW DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION GUIDELINES FOR THE PANDEMIC

times up

Working from home is not created equal for everyone,’ says head of ad industry efforts

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, American businesses were dealing with a diversity problem, struggling to hire and retain talent from underrepresented groups. Agencies and brands, hurt by the downturn in spending across the economy, are in danger of losing the gains they’ve made. Many companies have frozen new hires, promotions and raises—the very tools they rely on to promote diversity. And nearly 40 million Americans have lost jobs or income, with women and people of color disproportionately affected by layoffs, furloughs and salary cuts.

New guidelines released today from the Time’s Up Foundation, the organization created in the wake of the #MeToo movement, offer advice for businesses looking to protect the diversity of their workforces, even as they may be downsizing or restructuring work schedules and policies.

“This is an opportunity for businesses that pride themselves on being progressive in diversity, equity, inclusion,” says Christena Pyle, vice president and head of Time’s Up’s efforts in the advertising industry. “This is a chance for them to double down on the work that they’ve been doing as part of their economic recovery and resilience strategy.”

Companies should regard layoffs as a last resort, according to “The Time’s Up Guide to Equity and Inclusion During Crisis,” as those often hit new and low-level employees hardest—who are more likely to be women, people of color or LGBTQ. Instead, they should consider salary cuts for executives and employee retraining. Delay performance reviews or factor in the effects of the pandemic, including new stressors from working at home, illness, family responsibilities and new assignments employees have taken on due to reorganization.

“Working from home is not created equal for everyone. Some people may be unsafe working from home,” Pyle says, referring to the rise of reports of domestic violence globally during lockdown. Other employees may not have access to the right technology to work from home effectively.

Even plans to return to the office can inadvertently worsen existing inequities, due to the requirements of social distancing. The guidelines include information about “making decisions on who’s returning back into the office and how you’re physically spacing the office so that you’re not moving women and people of color into positions that are not close to leadership or into places where people just don’t want to sit,” Pyle adds. “So you will find guidance in here around flexible work schedules and paid sick leave. The document is meant to match the moment. It’s meant to be practical.”

Many of the recommendations are best practices for companies during better times, too. Comprehensive sexual harassment policies protect workers all the time, but perpetrators may take advantage of a crisis when victims are removed from their typical support systems, like the open door of human resources or affinity and employee resource groups that usually meet in person. Transparency is also key, especially since furloughed workers or rehired staff may have missed important communications while they were gone or just be out of the loop on projects or policies.

The pandemic, however, can also be an opportunity for progress. “Now, in this moment of crisis, we as employers have a responsibility to rebuild our economy and society to be more inclusive and equitable—not just for women, but for all of us,” said Tina Tchen, president and CEO of Time’s Up Foundation in a statement. “Leaders must recognize that COVID-19 impacts each of their employees differently—and keep diversity and inclusion integral to their economic recovery strategy.”

Since companies are already reevaluating partnerships, it can be a good time to develop new relationship with minority-owned suppliers and vendors. Keeping one eye on the demographics of the workforce not only prevents a loss of diversity but can identify places that need improvement—and a time of change is perhaps the best time to implement those changes.

“There are companies who have always wanted to push themselves to improve and who feel like now is certainly not the time. We can’t afford that,” Pyle says. “I think we can’t afford not to. When we talk about the future of work, we know that decisions are being made in this moment that are going to have implications in the future. They’re going to have implications on attracting the best talent. They’re going to have implications on consumer sentiment. And people are going to be held accountable for the values that they espoused in the moments before and how they operated and navigated their companies through this crisis.”

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