Student opinion: Equitable recovery needs structure and strategy

The world, as we know it, has changed. As the closure of borders has drastically impacted trade, commerce, and core company functioning, it has also provided an opportunity to review business goals, internal operations, and leadership structures. With the rising levels of global unemployment and concerning unequal social impact, businesses play a paramount role in just economic consideration. With massive aid packages and trillions of dollars in bailouts in the works, equitable recovery must be the crucial lens that corporations and policy makers adopt in order to balance immense short-term priorities and redefine the path towards a sustainable long-term future.

For organizations, leadership in times like these will be about value creation in domains of business, society, and our planet. Flexibility and experimentation will become core components of leadership in the management of large home-based workforces. This brought me to the realization that in the dire need to create a strong workflow and provide essential services, corporations have to take care of their strongest asset, i.e their human resources.

During my time in quarantine in India, I started researching all the EFL fundamentals and learnings gathered from Dr. Kellie McElhaney and the Equity Fluent Leadership: The Value of Inclusion and Diversity course. That research, combined with my passion for structures, frameworks, and platform creation lead me to develop the Equitable Recovery Platform and Strategy Framework.

These platforms and strategies are intended to improve an organization’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic and stitch the path toward equitable recovery. The platforms of Inform, Unity, Together, and #Withyou incorporate the essentials of information, culture sharing, open suggestion, and interaction in a structured manner. These platforms act as an adhesive for a company, amongst the chaos, and use shared value system enhancement as a recovery toolkit. In trying times like these, the platforms play an important role in creating a sense of community, security, and accessibility. They also use the tools of collaboration and culture sharing to make a sensitive, healthy, and united culture at home.

These strategies also focus on the value creation that adds to monetary support and contingency fund initiatives. They emphasize core resource utilization and also take various vulnerable sectors into account. These strategies cover the utilization of potential through mindful recruiting and a provision for mental health services that support a healthy workforce. They emit inclusive leadership by recognizing the responsibilities of homemakers, caregivers, elderly support, and social workers who contribute to the community and are a part of the larger workforce in the pandemic.

The combination of platforms and strategies highlights the essence of equitable recovery and creates a sustainable corporate future for success and contribution to the larger society. For more information and a detailed report on the Equitable Recovery Platform and Strategy Framework, visit this link.

The Equity Fluent Leadership class played a crucial role in the development of the Platform and Strategy Framework. It also provided me with the power to incorporate inclusive leadership in all my professional roles and be an accelerator for positive change.

Next steps: I see a challenge for India. I believe that the existing socio-economic inequalities in the second largest population in the world pose an extraordinary challenge, and opportunity, for the leadership in India’s corporate sector.

A major part of India’s workforce is in the unorganized sector. The sector’s large migrant population now faces drastic consequences with the increasing number of layoffs and significant decline in economic activity due to the lockdown measures. Indian corporations recognize the extreme diversity in purchasing power and cater to all segments of this unequal and widely distributed market. The pandemic conditions now make them vulnerable around internal functioning and service provisions due to the middle class and marginalized population’s diminished ability to work and spend.

The unexpected loss of income and disruptions in the standard delivery system is a major push into poverty for a large part of India’s socio-economic fabric. Indian corporations and leaders have a responsibility beyond the norm to provide job security to the educated urban middle class, and food and shelter for the migrant and blue-collar workforce. Amongst this leadership challenge, the provision of an Equitable Recovery Platform and Strategy Framework can play an important role as a lifeline in the short term, with the intent to help the most severely affected with food and shelter. For the long term, it can be an opportunity to revitalize a healthy business ecosystem for the unique conditions of India. Those benefited can be active resources for the future by participating in the workforce and consumer base.

To support the recovery in India, I am planning to share this blog and the detailed Equitable Recovery Platform and Strategy Framework with the business leaders and media contacts I met at the 4th US India conference at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. I also intend to contact media outlets in order to reach a wider audience and business community in hopes of building awareness and creating an appropriate impact.

A note from Professor McElhaney

I started one of my recent Equity Fluent Leadership classes with this quote from Sonya Renee Taylor:

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequality, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”

And I thought of an equity fluent student who was no longer able to attend classes remotely due to weak internet service and my class now being held in the middle of his night — Tushar Narula. He had two choices when his exchange program was cut short due to this global pandemic and had to exit immediately to quarantine in his home country. He could wallow in frustration and sadness, and spin on how unfair the world is. Or he could think about what an Equity Fluent Leader would do. Brilliantly, and in one of the most pride-inducing experiences of my 18+ years teaching at Haas, he sent me an email with his strategy and said he “has been thinking about COVID and my class.” I am in awe of this generation and how they are working their bums and brains off to use their power to make the world a more equitable place.

At the heart of UC Berkeley's Business School, the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership educates equity-fluent leaders to ignite and accelerate change.

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