Diversity and inclusion – not just a stop-gap solution for COVID-19

The diversity and inclusion space is seeing many debates – on one hand women are fighting for equal opportunity and pay, on the other, men are fighting the stigma of prioritising care over career. There’s one commonality between these two conversations – it’s the cry for change in the workplace. Both sides have gotten a taste of what it’s like to balance career and care over the last few months. They want more and they’re determined to make it happen for themselves. So the question to organisations is: are  “diversity and inclusion” and “flexible working benefits” still buzzwords and nice-to-haves? 

2.7 million¹ Australians are balancing career with some form of unpaid caregiving (with that number creeping up to 43 million² in the U.S.) COVID-19 was a wake up call for all companies on how important it is to support them to help them thrive. In a recent call with more than 2,000 ANZ bank employees, CEO Shayne Elliott posed a question to us:  Do you think COVID-19 will be the great equalizer for parents? Our answer was a resounding, “Yes!”

At Circle In, we work with companies globally to go beyond policy and create more parent friendly workplaces. Our customers had the unique benefit of being set up to support their working parents way before the onset of COVID-19. During this time, we noticed some phenomenal trends on our platform:

Since February, our platform experienced a 68% growth in subscribers, proving that working parents needed more support than ever before. Our customers recorded spikes in usage from their parents with school-age children searching for possible leave options, ideas to engage their children while working, and rosters and planners to share the load at home.

We recorded a 20% increase in managers signing up to access our manager resources. There’s always been a gap between what parents need and the support they received from leadership – activity on our portal showed that this is now being acknowledged and acted upon. 

Empowering supportive leadership for a stronger employer brand

More and more potential candidates want to know about the benefits on offer before they walk through the door for an interview. 62% of job seekers in a 2019 PWC study said they’re more likely to apply for a job where a company is openly committed to improving diversity and inclusion in their workforce. Candidates in the same study were willing to give up 12% of their salary in exchange for greater flexibility and training.³ The decision to work for a company has become so much more than the brand name, and career progression. 

The demand from our customers now is around providing greater support to their leaders to respond to this trend. They came to us looking for simple tools that will help them better role model flexibility, build trust and create a positive experience in their teams. In response, we created a dedicated manager hub with resources to help them fulfil their crucial role in the employee experience.

We did not have to wait long to see the results. Our customers are already unlocking a more satisfied and productive workforce. 90% teams at Officeworks said they felt just as productive or more productive working from home with better support from their managers. Coca-Cola Amatil reported a whopping 274% increase in average time spent on the Circle In platform because of the high relevance and practical nature of the content. 

In the coming months we will see leading businesses seize the moment to construct new organisational models, re-think work design and build fully empowered and productive flexible teams. This is also organisations’ opportunity to contribute to improving the mental health of it’s workforce, reducing carbon emissions by reducing transportation and increasing workforce participation for the economy. 

On any given week, we speak with leaders like Shayne and companies with anywhere from 500 to 100,000 employees. They all have one thing in common – they acknowledge support for their working parents as business-critical and are serious about investing in their people. It is these companies that will retain employees, have a stronger employer brand and higher engagement in the years to come.

¹ Carers Australia
² Family and Caregiver Alliance
³ The future of recruiting

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