Why Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Are More Important Than Ever
COVID-19 is the Black Swan of a generation. Within a few short months, the novel coronavirus has dominated global headlines and instilled fear in our minds and empathy in our hearts. If you have not cycled through the stages of grief and anxiety, and lost friends, family or livelihood to the virus, then you are among a rapidly dwindling population of privileged people on this planet.
The global pandemic has affected the farthest reaches of the world, and those of us who own, lead, or manage businesses have a whole host of new variables to consider. It has become abundantly clear that governments worldwide have to reconsider how they care for their residents. Illness compromises people’s ability to function; unemployment can thrust anyone into actual or relative poverty within a matter of weeks.
How are even the wealthiest nations on Earth leaving behind the poorest, most marginalized, and most infirm people?
The answers are being revealed as unprecedented numbers of people become sick and unemployed. If our collective resources were more equitably distributed, a pandemic wouldn’t cause the level of calamity we are watching unfold.
What does this mean for your business? Well, the imbalances of our national and global societies and economies tend to replicate themselves within the microcosm of our workplace ecosystems. Hierarchies, systems of supremacy, and a general lack of human equity constitute the foundations of our once and former status quo. Our task, as leaders, is to respond to the paradigm shift and recognize that:
- The status quo will never resume. (Why would we settle anyway? Greed?)
- We have the power to recalibrate equitable systems.
- We shouldn’t wait for our broken society to lead the way.
- We can and should be intentionally inclusive in our redesign of equitable systems. (The inequitable status quo was designed intentionally, even if not by us. We inherited it, then opted in.)
We have the power to recalibrate equitable systems.
These differentiators will elevate businesses with empathetic, inclusive leaders into a new strata. These will be the leaders and the companies of the future. We can take cues from the Certified B Corporation and social enterprise movements because it’s not just people we must do better by, but also the planet.
Prioritizing human equity and inclusion now is a prudent and necessary course of action to prepare our companies for the new reality that will emerge post-pandemic.
We exist at a critical inflection point in human and Earth history. We’ve been given a profound wake-up call. More of the same will yield devastating economic, ecological, and biological results. This is the stuff of dystopian fiction. Prioritizing human equity and inclusion now is a prudent and necessary course of action to prepare our companies for the new reality that will emerge post-pandemic.
Will you continue to marginalize the marginalized or will you heed the call to get right with humanity?
Our customers, stakeholders and communities are watching what we do right now. The slate can be wiped clean if we get on the right side of history immediately. What is your business doing to solve the immediate pain being suffered by your community? How is your institution making space for people of all backgrounds and identities? How are you intentionally connecting with and correcting for any past impacts your enterprise has had on people and planet, whether by design or by default? Will you continue to marginalize the marginalized, or will you heed the call to get right with humanity?
Consumers and communities will be reticent to offer anyone a pass for their diversity and exclusion transgressions moving forward. Too many people will be affected by the imbalance to continue to turn a blind or indifferent eye. Now is your chance to realign your company’s values, systems, products, services and perspectives with the increasingly diverse communities and ecosystems that we serve. Even if your company is a nonprofit and boasts a noble mission, you likely still have unresolved equity issues lurking on the margins or worse, at the heart of your enterprise.
B the Change gathers and shares the voices from within the movement of people using business as a force for good and the community of Certified B Corporations. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the nonprofit B Lab.