To remain successful as the COVID-19 pandemic wages on, organizations must continue to help employees navigate as they blend home and work responsibilities. But with employees facing so many different challenges at the “home office,” how can a company stay sensitive as issues arise?
The practice and mindset of diversity and inclusion can hold many of the answers. Two diversity leaders joined the FIU Business community for “Leading Teams Through Uncertainty: How Diversity and Inclusion Impact Team Roles,” the second installment of Wertheim Wisdom Wednesday. The Wertheim lectures, endowed by Herbert Wertheim in 1993 and moved to Zoom in the wake of the pandemic, are designed to share insights of organizational leaders with the FIU Business community.
In the May panel, Ken Bouyer, Americas director for inclusiveness recruiting for EY, with 280,000 employees worldwide in tax, assurance and consulting, spoke from his home using a powerful background message: “If you don’t push boundaries, how will we break them?” He was in Miami when word came down to send everyone home and halt all travel. “We acted very quickly,” he said, noting that the CEO’s decisiveness put minds at ease.
Sleeplessness and anxiety ran throughout the EY workforce. Bouyer found that communicating his own anxiety in the first few months helped calm others. “As a leader, you have to be vulnerable,” he said. Virtual happy hours with the team allowed for communication.
“Trust is also very critical,” he noted. As leaders, we’re real too … you have to express that in a very vulnerable way,” he said.
Bryan Lovy, senior manager of recruiting at tobacco firm Altria, said transparency is an important part of modeling healthy habits in the new normal. For example, the sales organization’s CEO’s calendar, visible in the background for a recent broad communication on the screen, had a daily time period blocked off for time with his daughter.
“People know when you’re being authentic, when you’re trying to understand where they’re at.” he said. “If you’re doing what you were doing before the pandemic, there’s probably a miss.”
Under current conditions, Lovy said, “We all have to deliver things we’re accountable for. Empathy and flexibility are critically important.”
Asked what made a difference in fostering a more effective transition and working situation, Lovy cited Altria’s Black and Hispanic resource groups as particularly important in raising the conversation.
“Our employee resource groups are helping to build the skill of empathy and telling the story of how this pandemic and its issues is impacting different communities,” he said.
To view the full Wertheim Wisdom Wednesday conversation, visit this link.