The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been felt in all sectors of life, from loss of lives to the emotional turmoil that many are now struggling with. The economic sector has not been spared either with millions of job losses recorded globally. The Asian-American community has been a significant contributor to the United States since it was founded. Today, they make up to six percent of the total American population or slightly more than 20 million. The Asian community is well known for its entrepreneurial spirit, contributions to science and academia along with popular culture.
Over the years, the Asian-American community has been an integral part of the United States of America's rich history. However, since the Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the revelation that the virus started in Asia, many Asian-Americans have been the target of hate crimes and discrimination. The Asian community has faced harassment from other Americans taking direction from former President Donald Trump, who referred to Covid-19 as “Chinese virus” or “Kung Flu.” This rhetoric by the former president created a lot of fear and encouraged discrimination against the Asian-American community.
Surprisingly, the harassment has reached unprecedented levels from social places, workplaces, and especially on social media. A loud minority of Americans have been convinced that Asian-American community is responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic. Although there are no facts to support that Asian-Americans are at all responsible for the deadly coronavirus, the perception is powerful and people have become emboldened to express their hate against Asian-Americans.
Where is the solution to this anti-Asian violence?
The anti-Asian violence seems to be deep-rooted in many Americans' minds most likely because the hate started from the top government officials and influential people in American society. It might take time to neutralize the hate against the Asian race in the United States of America, but that doesn’t mean we stop taking the proper measures. If the hate is left to continue unchecked, it could risk the peaceful co-existence of the American people. Typically, we can’t avoid working with or even living with people who hold these inaccurate views. We have to find a way of respectfully disagreeing with them regardless of fierce allegations against them. Racial bias and political interests are two of the strong forces behind demonizing the Asian-Americans that won’t change overnight without action.
Unfortunately, the state and federal government authorities have little capability to address the anti-Asian violence that happens locally. The failure by the US leadership and trusted state agencies tasked with responsibilities to ensure a smooth and peaceful transition of power could be the weakest link in addressing the race war in the United States of America. However, at a personal level, we can make a difference by advocating for equality and fair treatment and calling upon the authorities to end the hate.
At workplaces, employers and employees should work together to promote diversity within the working environment. Employers have a vital role to play in helping the US in fighting anti-Asian violence. Creating an inclusive work environment, employing workers from different races and backgrounds would be a great effort to win the war against racism.
How can the employer create an inclusive working environment?
Typically, people spend more time in workplaces than in their homes. That means a toxic workplace can do serious damage to an employee's life. Therefore, as an employer, it is always your duty to create a safe working environment for your employee to be productive and help your company reach your business goals. If you have employees that feel insecure, neglected, or hated, this will also affect their productivity.
These are important ways to create an inclusive working environment for your employees:
1. Fair hiring practices
Recruiting best practices are fair, reduce conflicts between employees, and create the diversity needed to attain the desired inclusivity. When you employ staff from different races and ages, this creates trust in your workplace. In many cases, employees must consult with each other on various duties and responsibilities. Therefore, having diverse races in your team promotes a healthy and inclusive working environment. Also, make sure your employees don’t feel neglected or mistreated due to their race, age or sex. Fairness is vital in promoting a healthy and inclusive working environment. Hire professionals who understand the need to have a diverse team.
2. Regular team building activities
Employees also need to have time together, understand each other, and spend more time understanding each other. In some big companies, you may find that many employees don’t know each other due to the company's large size or a deliberate effort through the workplace plans. When a company has over 5,000 employees, it becomes challenging for the employees to get to know each other. As an employer, in such cases, make sure the working shifts have a way of knowing and interacting with each other. When employees are friends, they become more productive, feel safe, and a part of the team. A good manager will build a team of employees to work together and help the company reach its goals together.
Imagine a company where employees don’t want to work with each other and fight all the time. The productivity level will be low, employee morale, and quality of work will also suffer. As a result, it’s always a good idea to make sure your employees are a part of a company culture that treats everyone with respect. Employees may not always agree with each other, but as an employer, you should have a mechanism through which your employees can solve their differences amicably and maintain a mutual relationship.
Team building activities are vital for any company that wants to build a strong employee relationship. When employees spend time together out of work, carrying out different relationship-building activities this creates understanding and improves productivity. For instance, you can take your employees out for work retreats and have time together for a week or even just a few days. While on retreat, employees can participate in different fun activities like playing football, running, and other activities requiring them to work together.
For the best team-building experience, you can hire an expert to guide you on how to carry this out. Although the results from team building may not be visible immediately, after a while the company will a more positive work environment emerge. Team building is a vital exercise worth investing in as a company to motivate employees and enhance productivity.
3. Train the leadership
The leadership team heavily influences the workplace culture across every department within the company. If a supervisor is a racist against any community such as Asian-Americans, there is a high chance that the supervisor will spread this toxic environment around the company. Additionally, department heads are the key decision-makers and problem-solvers anytime junior employees have differences. If the supervisor is the problem, then it will affect the productivity of the whole department.
The best way to create an inclusive and safe environment for all your employees is to invest in training the heads of each department and supervisors. People have different beliefs and perceptions about life and races. Therefore, it’s vital to train your employees and heads of departments on handling other races, gender, and religious beliefs. You should offer to train your company's leadership at least once or twice a year to keep them up-to-date on various matters and how to promote inclusivity at the workplace.
The assumption that senior employees such as managers and heads of departments know how to create an inclusive work environment without training or oversight is dangerous. People have different perspectives shaped by various factors in life. For instance, the anti-Asian violence and hate in the United States of America could have influenced supervisors and leaders in your company to treat a group of employees with hostility. Now imagine this racism is passed on to the rest of your employees at all levels.
It would be challenging for employees of different races to work well in your company. As a result, employees’ productivity will go low, affecting the overall company bottom line.
Who should train the company leadership?
There are different training offered by both the state, federal government, and even private organizations on leadership. Additionally, you can organize a workshop for your employees for seniors, juniors and a joint training workshop. Do your research and consult with companies that already have a strong diversity program to guide you on the best training for employees. Workshops remind the employees what they are expected to do and why diversity is important to help the company thrive. Experienced trainers offer courses that will help both your leadership team and your more junior employees. In the long run, it pays big dividends with a more inclusive, safe, and healthy working environment.
4. Celebrate employee diversity
There is always something good that employees can learn from each other, especially when they come from different backgrounds. Creating a way of celebrating employee diversity in your company creates a feeling of everyone being welcome in their workplace. Make your company a safe place for all employees regardless of their culture, race, sex, or physical appearance. You can have a day to celebrate the different cultures of various employees from different backgrounds. For instance, if you have Muslims in your company, don’t let them feel like foreigners, allow them to attend all their prayer schedules, or maybe even create an opportunity for them to take off on their holidays and worship days.
When having gatherings in your company, allow employees from different backgrounds to participate, even if it’s through prayers and any other way to make them feel included and valued. Being comfortable in the workplace maximizes productivity and makes it easier for the company to reach its set goals with ease. If it is a case of discrimination or racism amongst your employees, make sure the culprits are held accountable and put measures in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again. These actions will make everyone in your company feel safe regardless of their race, gender, religion, or any other cultural differences the employees may have.
5. Involve everyone in company activities
Allow all employees to participate equally in any activities sponsored by the company. For instance, when holding meetings, allow opinions from staff members from different ethnic groups to share their experiences and perspectives. Let it feel as safe as possible to avoid cases of any employee feeling isolated or looked down upon. Additionally, roles in the company should be given out equally to ensure everyone feels like a part of the company's activities and goals.
As the company leader, speak up about the importance of inclusivity and let the employees know that you’re an advocate for diversity. Allow the employees easy access to reporting any issues of racism, isolation, or cases of discrimination either from the management or fellow employees. Communication is essential in providing an inclusive and productive working environment. Have clear communication between different levels of leadership within your company. When the workplace allows free movement of information and everyone is given an equal chance of being heard it becomes easy for all employees to express their concerns. In addition, as an employer, make sure all the issues raised by your employees are addressed in a timely manner. The leadership team’s behavior has a huge impact when it comes to promoting diversity at the workplace.
Inclusivity is critical for any company that wishes to be successful with the best talent in the 21st century. No one feels good when they are mistreated, isolated, or even abused based on gender, religion, sex, or race. Acts like anti-Asian violence and hatred have a substantial negative impact on the workplace. As an employer, it’s your duty to ensure all your staff members feel safe, accommodated, and free from any form of discrimination while doing their work at your company. The above tips will help you create an inclusive workplace environment and motivate your employees to be more productive.