The results of our study suggest that COVID-19 has helped set the stage for more open communication, frank and honest dialogue, and a kind of transparency that is rare in corporate America.
Psychological benefits experienced by leaders and employees will not only improve work-life but will set the stage for individuals to work together to mitigate social and racial injustice both inside and outside of the work setting. Here’s how:
Communication is more open and inclusive than before.
Communication in the past often involved surprisingly few people and was largely impromptu and improvised.
Meetings have become much more intentional and planned.
The forced structure and the intentional communication has proven to be very powerful.
The sense of urgency that erupted enabled leaders to gain consensus quickly and streamlined the decision making process.
Leaders have been reminded of what’s important.
The crisis has reminded leaders of the importance of:
Frequent, authentic and genuine conversations;
Maintaining a culture that makes it easy for employees to do the right thing for the right reason without fear of reprisal or retribution;
Acting in a fair and just manner, i.e., unbiased and unprejudiced; and
Ensuring employees possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities to make “good” value-driven decisions.
Transparency has created the opportunity to build new and strengthen trusting relationships. In addition, new policies and procedures have reduced ambiguity and uncertainty about what’s right, proper, and suitable and have reinforced appropriate and consistent behavior.
The crisis has changed peoples’ perspectives.
It’s time to take the dialog on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and turn it into a strategy with clear objectives, actions steps, owners and timelines.
In other words, transparency, commitment and accountability are required, and companies have the opportunity to build employees’ skils in these areas through coaching and mentoring.
As corporate leaders continue to focus on their customers and clients, many are now determining if—or to what extent—the COVID-19 crisis might alter their relationships and agreements with partners, e.g., community councils, governments, investment representatives as well as their own brands. Some recent examples are Quaker Oats, Mars and Conagra who are considering evolving their brands of Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s and Mrs. Butterworth.
This broadened perspective serves as the basis for a call-to-action.
A call-to-action to the “titans” of corporate America:
How will you and your organizations leverage the COVID-related improvements in communication, transparency and accountability reported above to impact the greater good?
What will you and your companies do to assure your employees of your personal commitment to social justice?
Are you willing to lobby the government to adopt new legislation and raise the funds needed to equitably provide affordable housing, education, career training and the other “privileges” the victims of social and racial injustice have been denied?
Your words and actions matter to your employees and customers and can make a difference in the world.
Next Article: COVID-19 Related Changes: Implications for Strategic Leadership (Part 1)