Panel Recap: Navigating the Virus Crisis

Categories: Diversity & Inclusion, Global Leadership

Aperian Global recently had the pleasure of hosting the first in a series of “Conversations That Matter” webinars tackling some of the big issues going on in the business world today.

In the premiere webinar, “Navigating the Virus Crisis: For Leaders and Managers,” Mercedes Martin (Aperian Global Practice Group Leader, Inclusion & Diversity) and Dr. Ronald L. Copeland (Senior Vice President of National Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Strategy at Kaiser Permanente) discussed how those in positions of leadership can best keep their organizations on track through the current crisis.

Here are some of the key insights from the discussion.

Interested in the full webinar? Listen to the on-demand version here

Dr. Copeland believes this Vivian Greene quote is appropriate for these times. A crisis like the current one can enable organizations to find out what’s working — and what isn’t — throughout their corporate ecosystem and encourage adaptivity, flexibility, and creativity. 

“If you’re operating from a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset, then every experience is an opportunity to “Learn, transform and innovate,” he says. “Just as the good times give us feedback about our progress, challenges offer opportunities to innovate and gain experience to manage our fears and anxieties under pressure.”

The traumatic effect of the current crisis should not be understated.

The all-encompassing nature of the pandemic, and the societal and economic challenges that come with it, can have a significant effect on the psyche of employees. Leadership needs to fully grasp the scope of the problems and develop compassionate and inclusive solutions. 

“People are very fearful,” Copeland says about the current workforce. “Some have lost their jobs. Their ability to maintain personal and family independence is being threatened. Tremendous adaptation is required to get through this crisis, given the restrictions that we’re all functioning under right now.”

As the conversation slowly turns towards re-entry and rebuilding, equity, diversity, and inclusion need to be a part of the business conversation.

Making an effort to keep up with diversity and inclusion practices will help cement a trusting and productive employer-employee relationship. Make sure you’re at the table and have an opportunity to inform the restructuring and planning sessions. 

“I think that most leaders would agree that the most precious resource we have in our work environment are the people — the human talent that we bring to the table,” Dr. Copeland says. “If that’s undermined, if that’s not available, then most of the businesses and services we provide in our current form would not be available. So it’s high-stakes protection of your investment.”

Human beings have very specific needs and are vulnerable to different biases, elements of discrimination, or socioeconomic inequities.

Leadership and management need to be aware of these elements that influence the daily lives of employees — especially during times of crisis.

“Bring that in conversation,” Dr. Copeland says. “If it’s not on people’s radar screen, if they’re not at that level of awareness, you can begin to have that conversation. I think that’s one of the most important roles that equity, diversity, and inclusion leaders can play in this particular situation to help change and inform the conversation to make it more inclusive — as opposed to strictly business terms.”

Think about your “trust bank” with your employees; what was its level before, and what is it now? 

As Copeland explained, a “trust bank” is built up between employees and management through positive words, actions, behaviors, and policies. It plays a significant role in the crisis management process.

“If there’s a high trust bank during this crisis, you’ve been leveraging that trust — making withdrawals from that account in order to sustain the business, keep people performing, and creating daily value despite tremendous challenges,” Copeland says. “If you haven’t been able to achieve that, the first place you’re going to have to start is rebuilding that trust.” 

Looking to operate with a growth mindset?
Aperian Global can help.


Roland L. Copeland, MD, FACS
Guest Practitioner - Kaiser Permanente

Ronald L. Copeland, MD, FACS, is senior vice president of National Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity strategy and policy and chief equity, inclusion, and diversity officer for Kaiser Permanente. Through multiple collaborations, he leads Kaiser Permanente’s program-wide efforts to ensure the organization’s strategic vision for equity, inclusion, and diversity is successfully implemented to drive strategic business and mission outcomes, empower communities that they serve, and result in all Kaiser Permanente members achieving health and health care outcomes that are high quality, equitable, and increasingly more affordable. Dr. Copeland is a member of Kaiser Permanente’s Executive Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Council, a group composed of the Chairman/CEO and other C-level leaders who oversee executive accountability for embedding the equity, inclusion, and diversity strategy throughout the organization. Additionally, he is chair of the Kaiser Permanente National Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Council.

Mercedes Martin
Practice Group Leader of Inclusion and Diversity

Mercedes Martin is Aperian Global’s Practice Group Leader of Inclusion and Diversity and has over two decades of experience with Strategic Business Consulting, Inclusion Coaching, and Global Leadership Development. She sheds new light on the topics of business transformation, inclusion, and innovation.

Ms. Martin holds an MSc in Leadership Development from the University of San Francisco and a BSc in Transcultural Nursing from the University of Miami. She also holds numerous executive coaching and consulting accreditations, including Master Corporate Executive Coach (MCEC), Center for Creative Leadership 360 Assessment, and Coaching for Results Certifications.

Connect with Mercedes on LinkedIn