For all of the pain and disruption that it’s caused, the COVID-19 pandemic has also produced some significant silver linings. Among them is greater awareness and engagement around diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, according to Asif Sadiq, senior vice president for equity and inclusion at WarnerMedia International. The pandemic, he said, has made many organizations realize that these are not just HR issues.
“Companies have started to understand that diversity and inclusion should be addressed through all aspects of the company,” said Sadiq in a recent interview with VISION by Protiviti. “It needs to touch every single department, from employees to customer engagement, product design, and innovation.”
Remote work during the pandemic has been a driving force for elevating diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace by helping coworkers to understand each other better as people. “The pandemic gave us unprecedented insights into each other’s lives … . Now, everyone knows more about each other,” said Sadiq. “Ironically, we’ve probably connected more on the human level in the virtual world the last two years than we did before the pandemic. I think that’s done wonders for us all.”
Sadiq emphasized that as businesses work to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace today and in the future, they must take care to explore “the whole picture of diversity.” He explained, “At most companies, diversity is based on the physical characteristics people see. … We must look at diversity beyond a single dimension.” That includes considering “other elements of diversity that create richness in the workplace,” including age diversity and neurodiversity, he said.
Sadiq sees the decade ahead as a critical time for companies to make measurable progress on diversity, equity and inclusion if they want to stay in business — and not just because those issues will have an impact on their ability to attract and retain talent. “Consumers will no longer purchase goods and services from a company that doesn’t align to their core values,” he explained.
To find out why Sadiq hopes diversity won’t be a topic of discussion in the workplace of 2035 — and why roles like his could eventually become unnecessary — read the full interview on VISION by Protiviti.