As the American Psychological Association has declared, “We are living in a racism pandemic.” Long predating COVID-19, racism is an issue that business leaders can no longer ignore — and a centuries-old challenge extending far beyond marginalization in the workplace. Organizational responses to highly publicized race-related events can either help employees feel psychologically safe or contribute to feelings of mistrust. As Laura Morgan Roberts and Ella F. Washington recently wrote in an article for Harvard Business Review, to create a truly inclusive environment, leaders must find ways to connect with their employees in addressing these topics; their framework for taking meaningful action can help.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically upended the working world, leaving many executives bereft of their usual channels to engage deeply with stakeholders and gain agreement on the path forward. As they face the critical challenge of virtually engaging in key decision-making processes with stakeholders and internal team members — and simultaneously enhancing trust, transparency, and teamwork — savvy leaders will develop new ways of working, new ways of leading, and new strategies for growth.
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Amid skyrocketing unemployment, some organizational leaders are taking unconventional steps to avoid laying off employees. The director of the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas, redeployed employees whose positions were most at risk to tackle new projects during the lockdown, such as having a maintenance worker draft donor thank-you notes, security guards add text descriptions for the visually impaired on the website, and event planners conduct research. These moves have warded off layoffs, boosted morale, and showcased staff adaptability.
Previously developed workplace analytics don’t capture the disjointed realities of digital workflows for remote workforces. Stressed, separated, and challenged to do better with less, people need greater insight into how they’re doing. Companies that want the best from their workers — and for their customers — must recalibrate performance metrics in order to better inspire people, projects, and outcomes.
What Else We’re Reading This Week:
- The pandemic has made online interaction more routine, creating new opportunities for businesses
- Check in on your black employees, now
- The pharmaceutical industry’s lessons of ultrafast innovation amid current challenges
Quote of the Week:
“Your first instinct might be to say nothing to the public or your workforce about the racism of this moment. But silence is not neutral. It supports a status quo of historic and contemporary white supremacy.”
— Michael W. Kraus, assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management, in “How White Managers Can Respond to Anti-Black Violence”