D&I in the COVID-19 ERA

The D&I arena has long been the voice of black and other ethnic minorities. Well, that is what we are led to believe. There is also a school of thought that D&I is to be seen as a good area to get into as you can make lots of money. I would like to think that people work within D&I because they want to be a part of shaping an organisation to be more people focussed.

During these challenging times of COVID-19, I have started to ask myself, where are the D&I voices discussing why black and other ethnic minorities are dying of COVID-19 in such large numbers? I have seen commentary within my own social network, but these are by no means mainstream media sources. One of my theories is, D&I professionals are talking amongst themselves choosing not to air their views in public. I have heard and seen some of the people that have made mention of the issue, but I believe it has come as an after thought which underlines the point that inequality exists.

Naipaul BMA Council Chair wrote; ‘The ICNARC report found that, despite making up 13% of the population, 35% of people critically ill with Covid-19 are BAME.’ These concerns are echoed by Lord Woolley, Founder and Director of Operation Black Vote and many other high profile individuals.

Discussions at community level are rife. Young and old are very concerned about the sudden death of their loved ones and those on the front line are feeling exposed because of the lack of PPE, with black and other ethnic minorities also feeling targeted to work on Covid-19 wards, as reported by Nursingtimes.net. A statement made by someone in the profession notes: “Some are saying they are being taken from the wards that they usually work on and put on the Covid-19 wards and they feel that there is a bias – the same bias that existed before they are feeling is now influencing their being appointed and they are terrified, everybody is terrified”.

I wrote an article in 2019 suggesting that D&I should be viewed as an external and internal issue. I used the PESTLE analysis (Political, Economical Social, Technological, Legal, Environmental) to demonstrate how the issues that occur within an organisation, permeate from the external environment. The prejudices we see in the workplace are perpetrated in daily life. The concerns that are being demonstrated around Covid-19 and the high proportional deaths of Black and other minorities shine a light on the disparities that exist.

Now we find ourselves looking in ernest at the disparities between black and other ethnic minorities would this not be a good time for people within the D&I arena to look at how they can support their staff who are already aware of the disparities that exist. How can the D&I community build trust and confidence to show support to those who are feeling marginalised?

Now more than ever D&I needs to be at the forefront of organisations and I would argue that this should be in conjunction with wellbeing support. D&I is not a nice to have or a bolt on that you contribute money and resources to on occasion, it needs to be looked at as fundamental.

Covid-19 has highlighted not only that we are disproportionately dying, it also highlights we are key workers who are important and have a value to society. Without us the UK would barely function. We can no longer accept being an after thought, a mandatory action plan to address inequality is imperative to make black and other ethnic minorities feel valued and respected as all human beings should.

Let us not forget those black and ethnic minorities who have passed doing their jobs some of whom are listed below;

Mr Manjeet Singh Riyat, Rajesh Kalraiya, Krishan Arora, Amrik Bamotra, Lourdes Campbell, Ade Raymond, Linnette Cruz, Gladys Nyemba, Amarante Dias, Dr Peter Tun, Josiane Zauma Ebonja Ekoli, Melujean Ballesteros, Maureen Ellington, Nahima Bibi Sidhanee, Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapon, Gilbert Barnedo, Oscar King Jr, Charles Kwame Tanor, Amor Padilla Gatinao, Leilani Mede, Donna Campbell, Elbert Rico, Dr Edmond Adedeji, Dr Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, Dr Fayez Apache, Elsie Sauze, Donald Suelto, Alice Kit Tak Ong, Leilani Dayrit, Jitendra Rathod, Dr Syed Zishan Haider, Glen Corbin, Dr Anton Sebastianpillai, Areema Nasreen, Elvira Bucu, John Alagos, Dr Sami Shousha, Dr Eric Labeja-Acellam, Dr Alfa Saadu, Thomas Harvey, Amged El-Hawrani, Pooja Sharma, Adil El Tayar, Dr Habib Zaidi