Inclusivity vital to pandemic recovery

Empathy and emotional intelligence have become the most important skills for a CIO as a new workforce and a new mission rises from the COVID ashes.

Black lives matter; it's a maxim that in 2020 shouldn't exist. But as the world watches mass violence on the streets of the USA following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis it serves as a further reminder that inclusivity still faces a mountain to climb.  As the world comes to terms with both racism and the Coronavirus pandemic, inclusivity has a more important place in the lives of each and every one of us. If the economy is to reshape and recover from the virus, inclusivity will be essential. 

Quite rightly, inclusivity has been on the board table of many organisations as they seek better diversity in their teams and leadership. An irony, but one I believe that will be positive, of the pandemic is that the lockdown has demonstrated, or reminded, leadership that good leadership is inclusive of every individual and their needs. 

Split days as parents juggle childcare, extended lunch breaks as team members volunteer for vulnerable members of the community and online company social events have become the norm. I have yet to meet a member of the CIO and CTO community that has not benefited from this ‘new normal' of multi-tasking. Technology long ago blurred the border between the enterprise and family life. Today there is a freedom of movement between work and home that benefits both and COVID-19 has smashed down those barriers - for digital and knowledge workers. CIOs are talking openly about how enhanced empathy and emotional intelligence have become the most important skills in their business technology leadership roles. 

These are not easy times for any team member or leader to be calm and inclusive. Many in our organisations and communities are tired, anxious, feeling caged and deeply worried about the future. The world economy is in dire trouble and there are more damaging shocks to come for economies like the UK. But it is for this very reason that inclusivity and caring is important. Hard right heavy booted actions in the USA, UK, some parts of Eastern Europe and Asia will only serve to damage the economy further, deepen divides and halt the opportunity we have ahead of us to build a new horizon. 

In the maelstrom of bad news it is easy to lose sight of the future and just how bright it is. Out of all this health fear and ignorant loathing a new inclusive and super connected community will arise.

The next generation that is now within or entering our working community has grown up with inclusivity and we shaped it. Unlike the tomes, TV shows, movies and toys of generations before, the culture that has shaped the millennials never shies away from emotional intelligence. I read the literature that litters the floors of my daughter's rooms with interest, passion and pride. Through these stories they engage with disabilities, empowered females, all the nations of the world, colours, religions and educational backgrounds. They are not fed on anti-German bias, one dimensional Eton "heroes" or stereotypes of the Chinese.

If we are to return to health beyond the pandemic, we need to learn from those younger than us, applaud their culture, because they respect all backgrounds. We are children of the Cold War and must prepare to pass on a batten that is better than things are right now. To do that means seizing the opportunity of the post-pandemic economy, remaining empathetic, inclusive and always aware that we are the lucky ones. We have space, education, technology and there are many who are sharing a kitchen bench with school kids, partners and frightened family members as they carry out their day job. 

Recovery from the pandemic will only succeed if we become more inclusive and learn from the pandemic and terrifying events in Minneapolis.