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Let’s Continue the Dialogue: Achieving Inclusion in the “New Normal”

At EPS, we have spent the past two years facilitating workshops (“From Diversity to Inclusion: Breaking Down Barriers on the Path to [Un]common Ground”) throughout the country that provide open dialogues about how to increase inclusion within organizations. In each workshop, together we learned more about the different challenges leaders and HR professionals face, and also about practical solutions for achieving a more diverse and inclusive organization. We invite you to continue the dialogue with us.

With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, organizations have had to change and adapt significantly, which has brought new challenges and potential new barriers to inclusion. There have been many reports of outright discrimination against Asian Americans and individuals of Asian descent. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) warned early on, "[s]tigma and discrimination can occur when people associate an infectious disease, such as COVID-19, with a population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region is specifically at risk for the disease (for example, Chinese-Americans and other Asian-Americans living in the United States).”[1] In turn, EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon issued a statement acknowledging the reports of discrimination against Asian Americans and others of Asian descent and reinforcing the EEOC’s commitment to eradicating discrimination in workplaces.

Employers, of course, must continue to proactively address any discriminatory conduct but also be aware of the more subtle ways in which employees may feel marginalized or not included in this “new normal.” Many employees are now working at home, which has benefits, but also can lead to new and different barriers to inclusion. For example, with the increased use of Zoom and other video technologies, employees’ different economic and private family situations may become more apparent (including the availability of needed technology), creating sensitivities and barriers. Video calls can tend to favor certain personalities and, as a result, more introverted employees may not be given as much of a voice. There could be gender implications as well. With less face-to-face interaction, some managers may rely on those employees with whom they are most comfortable, thereby denying others similar opportunities. The list of potential concerns continues to unfold. 

Indeed, there are countless ways in which this “new normal” has impacted the workplace. It has not, however, changed our commitment at EPS to helping organizations promote more inclusive environments. So, let’s continue the conversation together. We invite you to view our online conversation where we brainstorm and strategize together on ways to break down any new barriers to creating more inclusive organizations. As Chair Dhillon said, “[o]ur collective efforts to create respectful workplaces for all our nation's workers, even during these trying times, will enable us to emerge from this crisis stronger and more united.”[2]

[1] Reducing Stigma, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19),

[2] Message From EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon on National Origin and Race Discrimination During the COVID-19 Outbreak, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission,