The recent spotlight on racial equality is exposing a longtime pattern of systemic racism in America. In addition, the US Supreme Court this month forbade discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender status, bringing attention to workplace prejudice against that community. Adding fuel to the fire, the Covid-19 health and economic crisis is having a disparate impact on working Americans — with minority communities struggling most.

Against this backdrop, with individuals beginning to examine prejudice in their communities, organizations must increase focus on diversity and inclusion in their workforces. Last month, CWS 3.0 discussed fostering a more inclusive contingent workforce that drives a sense of belonging. A more inclusive workforce is important not only for society but for a company’s recruitment strategy, culture and employer brand. Here’s why.

Candidates’ Expectations

A poll conducted in May by Monster found most job seekers, 62%, would turn down a job offer if they feel the company does not value an inclusive and diverse workplace culture.

A separate June survey gauged the influence of companies’ Black Lives Matter responses. The likelihood that respondents would work for a company increased for 62% of respondents based on its response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Of those, 86% said their increased interest was due to a positive company response. Alternatively, for the 38% of employees whose likelihood decreased, more than half, or 55%, noted it was because the company remained silent.

Workers also expect transparency from potential employers when it comes to the diversity of their workforces. When asked what the most important step was for a company to take to demonstrate its commitment to diversity hiring, over one-third, or 36%, cited transparency on the diversity of its employees and 25% noted having an HR team dedicated to diversity and inclusion hiring.

The Pandemic Crush

Women and minorities have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic by both the types of jobs impacted as well as the increased demands at home as primary caretakers, according to the Work Now Report released by WerkLabs, the insights division of The Mom Project, a digital marketplace that connects local corporations with diverse and experienced women returning to work in professional roles.

WerkLabs in April surveyed about 2,000 professionals in a variety of industries to learn how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted work and home life. The research found women are twice as likely as their male counterparts to leave their employer in a year’s time due to their workplace experience during the pandemic. That number is deeply connected to workplace satisfaction during the pandemic with women scoring an average of 15 points lower than men on all drivers, on a 100-point scale — meaning their work experience was significantly more negative.

However, they are taking the time to find the right job, says WerkLabs President Pam Cohen. “They are looking for more supportive work environments; they are looking for workplaces that will care that they are trying to juggle even more significant caretaker roles than before,” she says.

Of the professionals surveyed by WerkLabs, more than one-third reported both their work and well-being have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Many participants noted that leadership believes because social activities are lessened or nonexistent as a result of the pandemic, the employee has more time for work and thus can handle a larger workload — regardless of work-life balance or other responsibilities such as childcare.

So, The Mom Project is advising employers that the kind of support their employees need has changed. “They need to offer a lot more in the way of wholistic support, and job clarity and things that will support the employee as they endeavor to find a new way of integrating work and life,” Cohen says.

What next?

Beyond issuing press releases and tweets in support of the Black Lives Movement and equality, companies will need to assess their own policies and cultures to ensure diversity and inclusion efforts are bearing fruit. General Motors CEO Mary Barra told Fortune that the killings of Black Americans George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery caused her to reflect on how her company could drive real change.

“Let’s stop asking ‘why’ and start asking ‘what.’ What are we going to do? In this moment, we each must decide what we can do — individually and collectively — to drive change … meaningful, deliberate change,” Barra wrote in a letter to employees.

She is now commissioning an “inclusion advisory board” of both internal and external leaders, which she will chair, to foster inclusivity within GM and in the communities in which it operates, as well as within its supply base and in the business world at large.

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