How COVID-19 Has Highlighted Inequality in North America

Although most of us can say our daily operations look a little different than they did at the beginning of quarantine, it’s important to recognize marginalized communities are being disproportionately affected by the impacts of the virus.

HERE'S WHY

The current pandemic has amplified many systemic issues in North America and around the world, including racial injustice at the hands of legislative and police systems, the inaccessibility to affordable healthcare and accelerating environmental concerns, among others.

Black, Indigenous and P.O.C. communities have felt the negative effects of COVID-19 differently than majority populations.

Detailed statistics regarding COVID-19 deaths in the United States, for example, have revealed fatal COVID-19 cases in Black and Latinx children, young adults and older patients are far more common than those of their white counterparts. Reports show that these populations are disproportionately represented on the front lines as ‘essential’ workers in low-income service jobs in the U.S. Their greater exposure rates increase vulnerability of fatally contracting the disease. 

In Canada, systemic inequities continue to increase COVID-19 risks for Indigenous communities. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, vocally expresses her concerns: “A single case in any First Nations, Inuit, or Métis community is high cause for concern. These communities are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19 due to distances, access to necessary resources, and underlying health conditions”. 

The inaccessibility of high-quality, well-equipped hospitals and insufficient emergency funding for Canada’s Indigenous communities are long-standing issues, which have only been made more prominent during the pandemic.

Respectfully acknowledging we have all had to adapt to our “new normal” in the wake of COVID-19, we can’t ignore the issues BIPOC communities have and continue to face on a daily basis. Employers must reckon with the fact that on top of dealing with the effects of the pandemic, BIPOC employees are likely dealing with a myriad of other issues. These issues are only becoming more urgent as the impacts of the virus continue.

GO DEEPER

Want to learn more about how you can improve your workplace’s DEI tactics to prioritize BIPOC employees’ concerns? Listen to the newest episode of our podcast, Just One Q with Dr. Melissa Horne and sign up for our weekly Sunday Snippets newsletter to stay up-to-date on best practices for diversity, inclusion and equity in the workplace.

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