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Kamala Harris’ appointment as Vice President of the USA comes in the midst of rising activism for equality and during a pandemic which has put a spotlight on social inequalities.
Kamala Harris’ election as the first Black woman to be Vice President of the USA has drawn many news headlines about ceilings being shattered. It is certainly a major step forward and comes at a time of concern that Covid-19 could drive working women backwards, with reports of women losing their jobs and dropping out of the workforce in large numbers. But it also comes at a juncture when the struggle for equal rights has been at a high with the Black Lives Matter movement and the #MeToo movement galvanising many people, particularly the young.
Covid-19 has accentuated the inequalities that exist in every part of our societies. It is people in often low paid, frontline jobs who have kept the country functioning who have had to bear the brunt of the Covid risks and exhaustion [speaking to friends in social care and education the sense of fatigue is crystal clear] and it is likely to be people from the most disadvantaged groups who will face the worst of the economic recession that will follow.
We are at a time of much change – every day there is turbulence, whether it is related to Covid, to recession, to automation, to climate change or to all the social elements linked to these…It is vital that, as uncertain as things are, there is some sort of vision that gets us through this, an idea of who we are and who we want to be.
When workingmums.co.uk we have talked to progressive employers at our virtual roundtables during Covid, several things have been clear. That engagement with employees – all of them – is vital, that developing resilience is essential and that well being initiatives have to be totally embedded in the workplace, that Covid has, to some degree, flattened hierarchies [the idea that on Zoom people are more on the same level than in formal meetings, although clearly not everyone can operate remotely and many have issues with remote working], that those who understood the benefits of diversity and inclusion are still committed to it – and more so after BLM – and that operating in an agile manner is something that is here to stay, with those who were prepared finding the transition to Covid working the smoothest.
You can shout and rail against the turbulence, but it is clear that it will do no good. The only way forward is to adapt. That means being prepared to pivot on the everyday things, but also to have some solid sense of where you want to go, to offer a sense of hope and to take people with you. As the US elections show fear and division don’t get you anywhere positive.