Diversity | Twitter commits to D&I despite coronavirus

Twitter commits to D&I despite coronavirus

Social media behemoth Twitter has announced new plans to focus on building a diverse talent pipeline during the coronavirus crisis.

In a recent blog post penned by Twitter’s Vice President of People Experience and Head of Inclusion and Diversity, Dalana Brand, explained that by 2025 the company hopes to have women represent half of its workforce and for ‘under-represented minorities’ to comprise a quarter of its US workforce. According to the business, the percentage of women in leadership roles has increased to 36.9%.

Brand added in the blog post that Twitter’s commitment to D&I has never been stronger: “Although the world doesn’t look the same since our last post, our commitment to inclusion and diversity at Twitter has never been stronger.

“Since our last update, we transitioned more than 5,000 'Tweeps' [Twitter employees] to a fully virtual workforce, introduced new programmes and benefits, and doubled down on inclusion in the age of COVID-19. We’ve accomplished a lot – and learned some important lessons along the way.”

This news comes after Twitter recently told its staff that they can work from home ‘forever’ if they choose to. The firm stated that this decision was made after its working-from-home measures had proven to be a success.

Brand added: “Our priority has always been our 'Tweeps' [Twitter employees], their safety, wellbeing and security. In February, we were one of the first companies to announce a global WFH policy – for us it was an easy decision. But it still required a massive amount of work to operationalise.”

During this time of uncertainty, Brand also highlighted the importance of regular, open communication between employees and their employer. As such she revealed that Twitter created Slack channels ‘specifically to answer questions related to COVID-19’. This was also launched alongside a COVID-19 focussed global survey in order to gauge how employees were feeling and working during the crisis.

She explained: “We created Slack channels specifically to answer questions related to COVID-19, launched a COVID-19 focussed global survey to take the pulse of our Tweeps, hosted more global all hands meetings to check in on everyone, and increased opportunities to connect virtually across teams – especially our Business Resource Groups (BRGs).”

Brand also pointed out the importance of offering a variety of benefits for a workforce that is now remote. As such, the company revaluated its offering to ‘identify opportunities for enhancements’. “In addition to reimbursing expenses associated with Tweeps’ WFH set-up, we also increased our investments in mental and physical health benefits and explored ways to better support caregivers learning to navigate our new reality,” Twitter’s VP continued.

Promoting D&I in a remote working world isn’t as straightforward as HR would hope, as it presents a number of new challenges and hurdles for employers to cross. This is echoed by Jill Miller, Diversity and Inclusion Adviser at the CIPD, who told HR Grapevine that HR must recognise that every employee will be impacted in different ways during this time, meaning HR must roll out an extensive D&I strategy that is inclusive of everyone.

Miller added: “Recognise that people will be impacted differently by the current situation and have different needs and concerns. Remind employees of any wellbeing support on offer, for example an employee assistance programme or counselling service, as well as signpost to expert sources of mental health support.”

She went on to express the importance of technology during this time to help keep employees and their line managers in touch with one another, something that HR should constantly be encouraging to help boost the feeling of inclusion among staff members while working from home.

“Technology is helping people stay connected in their work and social lives. Video conferencing can be very effective, being the closest alternative to face-to-face meetings. But it’s important to be aware that not everyone will feel comfortable using it or be adept with the technology. Managers need to know their team and ask people how they prefer to work to get the best from them,” she concluded.

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