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Prioritizing Inclusion During COVID-19 With Dean Delpeache

In a world of social distancing and working parents developing new routines to juggle everyone at home, COVID-19 has opened up a wider space for inclusion. No longer can employees control if a dog barks or a child pops on their Zoom during meetings, and many companies are shifting their strategies to be more about how to create continuity given new hurdles employees might be facing. 

That’s why I turned to a leading expert in diversity and inclusion best practices, Dean Delpeache, Sr. Manager of Talent Acquisition at Fiix Software. When I asked Dean how he came to specialize in diversity and inclusion, he told me about how he completed an Executive Master’s in Human Resource Management at York University, a certificate in Leadership and Inclusion, and how he’s a recognized recruitment/talent and diversity speaker. He even still teaches at York University on this very topic.

In a new world where inclusion is tested daily, here’s all the important questions answered by a leading expert on the matter. 

Q: What should companies prioritize right now when it comes to maintaining an inclusive environment during COVID-19?

Delpeache: Priority one is to ensure employees are safe and healthy during this time. The shift we are trying to make is changing the language from social distancing to physical distancing.  Reason being is that it’s important to still be social to remain productive in this new world. One thing you can do during this time is to find a way to just reach out to all employees individually.

Q: How do you recommend reaching out to each person during this time?

Delpeache: The best thing employers can do is have access to mental health resources. Ensure everyone is taking care of themselves. If you can’t be as productive from a work perspective, employers need to support and have empathy for each employees’ situation. Allow them to take the breaks they need, and ask what would be helpful for them to be more productive in this unusual time.

Some tips offered to our employees are:

  • Take 30 mins in the morning of free time 
  • Take a lunch break
  • Get away from your computer throughout the day
  • Take a walk with your family

Telling employees it’s ok to take care of themselves at this time is what’s needed most for companies, and that looks different without commutes and each individual’s work from home situation.

>>Pro Tip: Lever and many other companies offer EAP (Employee Assistance Program) to employees, as part of our benefit package, and it’s a great resource to tap into for mental and emotional wellness. Here is a link to find more information.

Q: What advice would you give to someone trying to figure out where to start to improve inclusion at their company?

Delpeache: In order to have an effective inclusion strategy, you must have senior leadership in the C-suite and even the board to buy in. That is the #1 thing. Everything will get done with buy-in. Two things that have worked for buy-in is to build a relationship with your leaders, and then apply the reasoning why to your organization. That relationship will stem from getting to know them and how they receive information. If they are business focused, you may need a business case. If they are moved by empathy, you need to give examples of that within the org. Ultimately, leaders understand that it’s a part of strong business performance, but apply the “why” for your organization.

Q: Which Lever tools have helped you most to keep inclusion in mind during this time?

Delpeache: Even though like many companies, our hiring is paused as we monitor the situation — we also want to ensure that we can reach out to all candidates we were talking to prior to COVID-19. We’ll prioritize segmentation and messaging going forward through nurture. Mainly because we need so many candidates and they can fall through the cracks during busier times. Setting up automated messages will help engage our existing talent pipeline and let them know we’re a company that’s inclusive during this time to keep the process going forward when we’re ready.

Q: What other companies do you look at that are doing this well and what have you learned?

Delpeache: We are grateful to have this partnership with Lever. Not only because it was a great product, but also because it has the values as an organization to prioritize bringing in a diverse pipeline of candidates within the product. You really can’t do this without sourcing and nurturing that talent during this time. The more people you can reach during a crisis, the better it reflects on your culture and brand to show that you care. One other company I admire is the Royal Bank of Canada. They have an elaborate D&I program that’s public for companies to look at and follow. It’s important as talent leaders to really step up and remain inclusive to employees, candidates and all people in this crisis. 

To learn more about Lever’s sourcing and nurturing capability, tune into our next demo webinar to get an overview of the product suite.