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COVID-19 and the Emergence of More Inclusive Workplaces

April 17, 2020

Although strategies to slow the spread of COVID-19 mean a number of restrictions and changes to our everyday lives, the need for being physically distancing has also highlighted new pathways to fostering connection. 

In a Forbes piece entitled “Could Coronavirus Have A Silver Lining For Equity And Belonging In The Workplace?,” Rebekah Bastian discusses three main ways in which the new norm for those of us who are able to work from home has unearthed avenues to foster more inclusive work arrangements: work flexibility, normalizing parenthood, and shared experiences. 

The same technological advancements that make remote work possible have the added benefit of reducing the cost of commuting, in terms of costs per ride as well as time spent in transit. It also benefits the environment by reducing carbon emissions. The adjustments we’ve made in the face of the pandemic have also had the added effect of reducing the parenthood taboo — in contrast to our typically compartmentalized personal and professional lives, the rise of video-conferencing from our homes has granted us more insights into each other’s domestic lives. As children crash the Zoom meetings of mothers and fathers alike across the world, the gendered penalty that has historically disproportionately harmed the careers of working mothers is being replaced by increased transparency and a more open dialogue around parenthood.

By adapting to modern ways of working from home, this shared experience has highlighted our capacity for reimagining traditional conceptions of ‘being at work’ to foster greater equity and belonging in the workplace. Despite the gravity of the crisis being confronted by our community on a global scale, there is hope that our shared struggles will develop an enduring sense of connection that leaves us united.