We are as strong as our weakest link.
Updated: May 6, 2020
// Salvador Acevedo
As the COVID-19 epidemic unfolds we all are trying to make a sense out of this situation. Yet it is still too soon to really grasp the ramifications of this global crisis. Nevertheless, one thing that has become very clear is that this virus doesn't discriminate based on gender, ethnicity, race, or socioeconomic status. In other words, we know that for this virus we all are equal. It seems ironic, and I say this with a bit of fun, that this virus knows more about equity than a lot of us seem to.
One of the facts that emerges from this crisis is that we are all interdependent. We are experiencing a situation that makes us realize in no unclear terms that we need each other. We are bigger than our individual beings, we are all connected through intricate systems that have unsuspected links between the privileged and the under-privileged, the haves and have-nots, the educated and uneducated. This is why now more than ever it’s important to adopt an equitable approach to the work we do because we can see in front of our eyes how we are only as strong as our weakest link.
The word “crisis" at its core implies a decision-making moment. It is the crossroad between health and sickness. Yet, it also represents an opportunity to behave in a different way. We have an opportunity in front of us to adopt “equity" as a matter of sound business practice, knowing that anything and everything that we do to create systems in which everybody can grow will only benefit the whole.
Take our school districts for example. If the system could ensure that every student has access to a computer and broadband internet connection, and every teacher access to online educational resources, classes could have transitioned into online learning much more easily. Yet, because not every student and teacher has access to these assets, especially in under-resourced communities, many school districts have had to cancel classes and wait for the pandemic to end in order to resume classes. As Tamsin Woolley-Barker says “Crisis requires agility and innovation, and that requires structures, systems, and cultures that support them.” If we hope to live up to our ideals of supporting equity and inclusion, these structures, systems, and cultures must have equity embedded in their DNA.
Thanks to COVID-19 we now know that business-as-usual is no longer an option. It is clear that extractive and inequitable models will not help us overcome this or any future crisis. The best possible way forward is by understanding that we live in an interconnected environment and making sure that every part of the system is as strong as the next. In other words, equity will only make us stronger, healthier, and more resilient as a whole.