We would also like to thank featured speaker Braden Marstaller for sharing the ways in which he has been working to support employee wellbeing and DEI initiatives throughout this period of uncertainty at Cogo Labs. If you missed our fireside chat with Braden, you can watch the full conversation and learn more about the amazing work Cogo Labs is doing in our latest post, Data-Driven DEI Strategies with Cogo Labs’ Braden Marstaller.
March 2021 marks one year since the onset of COVID-19 in the United States. We have all witnessed the ways in which this global pandemic has devastated communities, separated employees from physical workspaces, and isolated individuals from traditional support systems.
On February 23, 2021, Pride in Our Workplace invited LGBTQ+ and allied professionals to share their strategies for coping, staying hopeful, and continuing to advocate for more equitable spaces.
We are incredibly grateful for our guests’ candor in speaking to their own experiences and helping inform this post and our Cope & Hope Best Practices.
Following an introduction from PIOW board members, session attendees were split into networking breakout rooms to tackle our first discussion topics. Keep scrolling to read what we learned.
Top Coping Strategies
Pandemic Pets – Whether recently adopted or long-time family members, pandemic pets brought joy to many during quarantine. Dogs, cats, and furry friends of all sizes came in at the top of our list for helping attendees cope this past year.
Extra Family Time – Although many were separated from friends and social circles this year, quarantine and a new work-from-home culture allowed many to spend more quality time with their family unit.
Consuming Content – If not consuming food, attendees had been consuming content. Between news updates, a packed Netflix queue, and family movie nights, streaming media provided a much-needed distraction from COVID stress.
Walking and Exercise – From short walks in the sun to chasing more ambitious step goals, participants shared that getting moving and spending time outside was the second most effective coping tactic.
Cooking and Baking – Quarantine inspired a breadth of at-home cooking, pun intended. Be it banana bread trial and error or whipping up comfort meals, mealtime helped mark the end of our workdays and pushed us to think creatively to keep meals fresh.
Opportunities for Hope
Traveling – Attendees have been planning future trips to keep hopes high. We learned that folks are hoping to return to their favorite beaches and are making lists of new destinations to visit for the first time when the world opens back up.
Hugging – Even non-huggers in the group admitted that they are looking forward to holding loved ones a little tighter once we are given the all-clear to see our friends, families, and support networks once again.
Fewer Zoom Calls – As much as video conferencing has brought us together over the last year, attendees are hopeful that we’ll all get a chance to step away from our screens and relieve the burnout from packed Zoom schedules.
Socializing in Person – Every day, we get closer to a time when we all can socialize safely together. The ability to meet up with colleagues for coffee and reconnect face-to-face with friends from outside of our limited quarantine bubbles is keeping many hopeful.
Dancing – There are few pleasures simpler than getting a group together to unwind and dance the night away. To paraphrase the late, great Whitney Houston, we all want to dance in our post-pandemic lives.
Centering Racial Equity
In our second breakout session, we asked attendees how they are keeping racial justice at the forefront of their diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. Two main themes emerged: collaborating across ERGs and opening dialogues with leadership.
Employee Resource Group Collaboration – Form a united front with diverse groups across your organization to strengthen your collective voices and advocate for company-wide policies that will better support all employees. Create co-hosted event series that feature POC speakers to address workplace and societal issues through an intersectional lens. Partner to exchange best practices in sourcing diverse candidates to meet shared DEI goals.
Open Dialogues with Leadership – Make time to educate yourself about patterns of institutional racism and share this information with others. Open a dialogue with leadership about race, hold space for difficult conversations, and request statements of support from allies when needed. Present organization leadership with a list of agreed-upon next steps to help transition conversations to action.