It seems the heady days of Brexit are far behind us, with the Coronavirus filling our newsfeeds and thoughts instead. Where the UK once lamented immigration and hailed the importance of ‘closing Britain’s borders’ and ‘making the UK independent again,’ the opinion is shifting back now the importance of key workers has been spotlighted (for those whom it wasn’t already obvious). The same people we celebrate and clap for at 8pm every Thursday are some of the same people we voted to limit coming into our country in 2016.
Nearly 20% of the 1.3 million people that work in the NHS are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME) – many of them working as doctors, nurses and midwives1. The role of immigrants – be it first, second or third generation – make up these essential workers: not to mention the teachers, shopkeepers and food delivery drivers keeping society educated and fed.
At best, it’s poetic irony. At worst, it’s a grim reminder of the ignorance and entitlement that exists. It shouldn’t take a pandemic to remind us what really matters: that in a crisis everyone just needs to rally together to support and care for one another, regardless of their differences. Viruses don’t discriminate and neither should we.
The ‘You Clap for Me Now’ short film by creative director, Sachini Imbuldeniya said it best. Unsurprisingly, the short went viral – widely acclaimed for celebrating the diversity of frontline workers2.
No, you clap for me now. You cheer as I toil.
Bringing food for your family. Bringing food from your soil.
So, you clap for me now: all this love you are bringing.
But don’t forget when it’s no longer quiet. Don’t forget when you can no longer hear the birds singing.
Or see clearer waters that I crossed for you, to make lives filled with peace
and bring peace to your life too.
Even the way we view certain jobs as ‘unskilled’ has shifted for the better now we rely on them (and can see what the world would look like without them!) ‘Essential key workers’ are being hailed as heroes more than ever before, and we can only hope this universal gratitude and empathy stands the test of time. One thing is for sure: we won’t be forgetting who put their lives on the line to keep us safe any time soon.
The essential role that diversity plays doesn’t stop there. In terms of business, diversity is increasingly valuable during a global crisis. Without the presence of diversity or the practice of inclusivity within our organisations, the way we approach and tackle the issues we face when it comes to managing Covid-19’s impact can have long-term financial repercussions. Right now, the importance of a range of perspectives inspiring innovative ways of thinking cannot be underestimated. Every organisations’ response to the Coronavirus must reflect the complexity and interconnectivity of a global pandemic. Without a group of people who can look at the same situation from a variety of perspectives – including potential solutions – companies are poorly placed to effectively navigate their way through a time of crisis.
Diversity has a positive impact wherever it’s implemented, increasing team and financial performance, and improving general morale. Getting it right now will secure a brighter outlook for companies facing future uncertainty, ensuring they’re better prepared for handling the next crisis.