If the Coronavirus has taught us anything about what’s truly real about operating a business in America, it’s that people being available, healthy and happy are vital. Unfortunately there may never be a full proof safe guard against an unexpected Pandemic but people getting sick wasn’t the only negative outcome that many businesses suffered. Mental health challenges, attractive unemployment benefits and travel restrictions led to unprecedented labor shortages that are still affecting many businesses today. One perspective an affected business could have is that there was nothing they could do under such extreme circumstances. Another perspective is that it should be their responsibility as a business to create forward-thinking humanistic policies and put measures in place that keep their employees both happy and healthy. Embracing and creatively employing innovative concepts like this could have value in mitigating future labor challenges.
So when we talk about practical application, we don’t have to look much further than something that’s been around for a long time. That thing is Corporate Social Responsibility. The key however is to reimagine CSR to encompass Employee Resource Groups and Diversity Equity and Inclusion initiatives while emphasizing community engagement. I see this as connecting an action to the responsibility. Creating such a radical paradigm shift demands that we employ it by shifting the way we see leadership and changing the way we cultivate and discuss culture within an organization. Leading with compassion, courage and authenticity gets at the heart of all this. Engaging your workforce with a more human approach could pay huge dividends in the way that people feel valued, making them happier. To be authentically inclusive and to see people as true equals requires a level of compassion. It takes courage to move out of your comfort zone to engage in activities with people that you don’t know, or to have an uncomfortable conversation. Authenticity permeates everything, telling the people you encounter that your courageous or compassionate acts are done because you want to and not because you have to.
As the leader of any organization, leading with compassion, courage and authenticity will create an environment of trust and loyalty that can withstand unforeseen challenges.