When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, it forced many of us to reassess our priorities and make changes. This significant reassessment of the workforce, in general, led to a transformation of work, but it also left women—and especially women of color—behind.
When the pandemic and its surging variants finally become a background concern for the businesses and parents struggling to balance all of life’s obligations, reaffirming diversity and inclusion in hiring efforts will be more important than ever. Diversity in the workplace has the power to improve a company’s capacity for innovation as well as its reputation. These are benefits that most businesses could use in the post-COVID economy.
But for businesses looking to revitalize their diversity and inclusion recruitment practices, it’s important first to understand the impact that COVID had on the workforce. From there, you can reaffirm your inclusion efforts to build a diverse and empowered team.
The impact of COVID-19 on women and minority workers
First, it’s important to address the problems that existed long before the pandemic regarding workplace representation. While some sectors did better than others at recruiting diverse teams, others faltered significantly. In computer engineering, for example, only 30% of workers were either women or ethnic minorities. These failures of businesses to promote equitable structures typically meant that women and people of color received the short ends of the stick. COVID-19 only exacerbated the issue.
According to the Center for American Progress, women have experienced a net loss of 5.4 million jobs throughout the pandemic recession. That’s almost a million more jobs lost than those held by men.
And, as is too often the case, minority women had it even worse. The numbers for December of 2020, for example, showed all the job losses for that month going to Black, Asian, and Hispanic women. These losses came with an increased pressure on women worldwide to take on increased caregiving roles at the expense of their positions in the workforce.
But the post-pandemic economy owes it to women and minorities to make the adjustments needed to recruit them back into their dream jobs. After all, a diverse team’s insights and innovation potential are well worth it, and representation is key. So as recruiters prepare to enhance their efforts to hire women and minorities, you must consider all the needs of the post-COVID workforce.
This means reaffirming a commitment to diversity and inclusion and structuring a working environment complete with benefits that will bring in new talent.
Reaffirming diversity and inclusion efforts in a post-COVID world
Fortunately, you can improve your hiring efforts to accommodate all kinds of recruits with the help of a few simple strategies. Here, we’ll explore a few of these strategies and how they can be used to create a more inclusive post-COVID world.
For a streamlined diversity recruiting strategy for the modern era, consider:
1. Getting educated
Building an inclusive workforce starts with education. The right diversity training program in the workplace can be enough to revitalize the way any business thinks about inclusion and culture, making it easier to form a comprehensively welcoming environment that will attract diverse talent.
For success, your diversity training program should:
- Raise awareness of the issues
- Make inclusivity a value of your company culture
- Build proper understanding among employees.
With a functional training program, the hiring and recruitment processes can work much more effectively and inclusively than what might come from blind approaches. But to succeed, your focus should be on inclusivity from the start.
2. Focusing on inclusivity, not just diversity
Reaffirming your inclusion efforts won’t be effective without authenticity. This means crafting an empathetic and open culture across the company rather than adopting diversity as just another metric to be tracked. Inclusivity requires tolerance and welcoming of individuals that is not based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other identity marker. Such an approach will be highly valuable in structuring the kind of workforce people want to return to.
3. Assessing your messaging
The way you word and structure your job listings can make a big difference in the candidate pool you have to draw from. For example, some language often put into job postings can directly discourage female candidates from applying to the position.
Studies have shown that women tend to only apply to jobs where they were 100% qualified, while men will apply if they meet only 60% of qualifications. Since this is the case, gendered language that carries implicit bias can damage the inclusiveness of your recruitment efforts. Words like “strong” and “competitive,” for instance, can keep some women from applying.
Reassess your job descriptions to reduce gendered language and implicit bias.
4. Engaging with the community
One of the best ways to build an inclusive and diverse workforce is to reach out and engage with your larger community. This can mean a locality or even an online assemblage of those interested in your industry. Community engagement is key because it allows recruiters to make a genuine presence and find talent out where it exists rather than viewed behind a resume.
Here are some ideas for effective community engagement and inclusion:
- Charity work
- Sports and local event sponsorship
- Online contests
These and more are effective ways to show that your company is an inclusive and caring member of its community. In the post-pandemic environment, you can still engage in these events with safe social distancing to improve the sense of comfort and inclusivity for all those who want to participate.
5. Exploring new avenues for improvement
Finally, your diversity and inclusion efforts should include a litany of new outreach practices that open up your business to new pools of talent. In the remotely-working world, this can be easier than ever, as geography is no longer as significant a barrier as it once was. Now, you can explore a world of talent through digital events, Zoom meetings, and hiring platforms.
Find new methods of attracting talent and make sure to invite feedback from every potential candidate. Sometimes it can be all but impossible to know where we’re failing to be inclusive due to limited life experiences. Conversations with people from every walk of life can help us break out of these bubbles.
Why diversity and inclusion is more important than ever
When the pandemic struck, 27% of inclusion and diversity leaders paused their programs to address other concerns. However, the impacts of the pandemic have created a less diverse workforce. To reaffirm hiring efforts for the post-pandemic world, recruiters will need to understand the problems and get women and minorities back to work in environments that support their needs.
From education to engagement, a more inclusive workforce is waiting for us.