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Digiday Excerpt: 3 Questions with Stephanie Nadi Olson, Founder of We Are Rosie

by | Mar 1, 2021

Originally posted on Digiday by Lauren Razavi, March 1, 2021.

There is a lot of talk about the urgent need to improve diversity and inclusion particularly in the wake of the civil rights movement last year, but is it leading to real action inside organizations?

There appears to be a lot of intention to make it better, which increased in large part due to the resurgence of the civil rights movement last year. I hope that intention isn’t a fad. There is still a white male normative culture that permeates all of corporate America and excludes many people. It applies to age, race, sexual orientation — anything where you don’t fit into a tidy box. We have Rosies with social anxiety disorder, or who are combat war veterans with PTSD and can’t be around unexpected loud noises and so need to work remotely, then we have others who are transitioning genders — there are a million reasons why people want and need to work in a different way. But we have to peel back all the shame around it. There is no silver bullet. Everyone will have to try and implement a million different things to institute real inclusion into their organizations. On the bright side, it seems to really be sinking in that diversity doesn’t mean you sacrifice quality or efficiency. It’s quite the opposite, in fact.

What three changes should be prioritized at the top, to push forward in this?

We need to get clear and transparent on pay parity in major organizations. Wealth and access lead to power. So the first order of business is getting people paid fairly. And then we look at the mechanics of how work happens — the 9-5 working model was invented for the manufacturing industry a long time ago. We haven’t reimagined the way work happens in decades. It’s time to consider how and when work happens whether it is job shares, giving people summers off, remote working. All these things will improve diversity and retention of diverse talent. We also need to normalize talking about our shortcomings, acknowledging that none of us are perfect. This way people won’t be paralyzed with indecision and fear of making improvements to avoid drawing any attention to just how much work they have to do.

Why is now a good time to push forward?

Amidst the heartbreak and chaos [caused by the pandemic] there are gifts. This is one of them. Covid has accelerated the inevitable shift toward project-based work, to liberated talent. Over the past year, we’ve all shown ourselves as whole human beings, with entire lives and priorities outside of work. Because of what we have been through as a collective, we’re now seeing a global reckoning. People are being much more candid, honest, and empathetic. After a year of this, we’ve normalized whole-human being culture at work. Hopefully it means we are leaving this control, fear-based corporate culture of America behind. This is our time for change.

Numbers don’t lie

  • 100 million workers globally will need to find new jobs by 2030 given the industry-specific impact in areas such as retail and hospitality. In the U.S. 17 million individuals will be looking to transition to a new career [Source of data: McKinsey’s The Future of Work after Covid-19 report.]
  • 53% of 1,115 employees working from home said they felt their manager had become less empathetic during the third U.K. lockdown [Source of data: The Hub Events.]
  • 67% of European respondents are more likely to feel mandated testing will help monitor employee safety and wellness, compared to 53% of U.S. respondents. And 77% of Europeans say mandated testing will help resume business travel, compared to 60% in the U.S. [Source of data: The Global Business Travel Association 2021 Coronavirus poll.]

What else we’ve covered

This newsletter is edited by Jessica Davies, managing editor of Digiday’s Future of Work. Read full article here.