COVID-19 Reopening Tips to Help Businesses Prepare

Small businesses have found creative ways to keep moving forward despite closures during the coronavirus pandemic, from yoga studios, shifting classes online to local brewers pivoting to hand sanitizer production. But now as cities and states prepare to re-open, many small business owners are asking, “What’s next?”

There’s no question that the coronavirus pandemic will change the way we do business. If you’re wondering how your business can safely reopen and stay competitive after COVID-19, use these resources to learn what matters to employees and consumers and how you meet, but exceed their expectations.

Socially Distant Workplaces: The New Norm

Fewer people in your business means fewer opportunities for illness to spread. Use these resources to learn how you can maintain social distancing without sacrificing output.

  • Consider keeping some staff remote even after re-opening. With the right collaboration tips and tools, you won’t sacrifice team cohesion.
  • Need employees on-site? These social distancing tips explain how to keep staff safe.
  • Employers can also implement shift patterns to reduce on-site employees.
  • Whether employees are on-site or off, always make sure you’re taking steps to promote an inclusive working environment.
  • Staff members aren’t the only ones entering your business. To limit customers without turning people away, consider switching to an appointment-based system.
  • Businesses can also offer curbside pickup for customers who prefer to shop from the safety of home. Of course, this requires building an online store.

Keeping a Clean and Healthy Business

When customers patronize your brick-and-mortar business, they expect an environment that puts health and safety first. Here’s how you can ensure they walk away satisfied.

  • Learn the basics of cleaning and disinfecting your workplace.
  • Motion-activated doors, wipeable covers for electronic devices, and high-efficiency air filters are three upgrades that can keep your business clean with less effort.
  • Don’t forget clean hands! Require regular hand washing for all employees and supply touchless hand sanitizer dispensers.
  • It’s hard to convey a pristine image if your interior is worn and dated. Install new carpet to freshen up your business and save money doing it!

Get Financial Help to Keep Your Business Running

What if your small business needs more than a smart strategy to survive coronavirus? If you’re in need of a cash infusion to keep your doors open, here’s where to look.

  • Several federal, state, and city relief programs help small businesses, including tax credits, grants, and loans.
  • COVID-19 relief isn’t limited to the public sector. ZenBusiness is just one company offering grants to support small businesses.
  • Women and minority business owners can also find financial assistance.
  • Even with assistance, changes may be necessary to stay afloat. These steps will help businesses financially rebuild after COVID-19.

It’s never too soon to start thinking about what’s next. Whether your state is starting to lift lockdown measures, or your doors remain closed, make sure you’re planning for the future of your business. By developing a smart strategy for your business’s re-opening, you can get back to business while putting health and safety first.

This article contributed to Filsan blog by Elena Stewart

Inspire an Inclusive Climate


Demographic shifts in the U.S. population clearly underline how our future relies on fostering a genuine inclusive climate in the workforce.  Many organizations’ top management teams strive to diversify their workforce and talk a lot about ways to promote an inclusive environment in the workplace. But the questions we need to examine first are, what’s inclusion? Why is it important to have an inclusive working environment? What are the benefits of an inclusive workplace? How do we create such environment?

Before we answer those questions, let’s examine the intersectionality between diversity and inclusion. We have diversity in our community which is not reflected in our public and private sectors. This means we have employees from different backgrounds, whether they be along lines of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, geography, accent, disability, mental health, economic status, education, etc. However, hiring diverse talent does not mean inclusion.  The yardstick with which we measure company’s inclusive working environment are manifold. We look at whether we are allowing employees with minority backgrounds, women, and people with disability moving up the corporate ladder.  Are they being promoted or demoted?  Are their voices being valued or despised, their differences respected or disparaged? Are their ideas solicited or stolen without being properly credited?  Sadly, some organizations and companies that hire a diverse workforce have yet to embrace inclusion.

Let us start with what inclusion means in the workplace. Unlike diversity, inclusion is a state where companies

  • Ensure equitable access to resources, promotions, and opportunities for all.
  • Create a fair, inclusive, equitable, healthy, and respectable climate where employees from different backgrounds could feel safe, respected, engaged, determined, and valued for who they are and for their perspectives and contributions toward their company, organization and community.

For our empirical knowledge and experiences, Filsan team realizes that inclusion entails two components:

  • Employers are experiencing some sort of belonging where they feel that they’re valued, their perspectives respected and solicited and that
  • They feel that their uniqueness is valued.

When employees feel like an outsider because of their uniqueness or difference, then the company fails to foster an inclusive working climate.

Importance of an Inclusive Working Environment

When companies are committed to promoting inclusive working behaviors, they witness their employees regardless of their differences report higher levels of trust, interactions, teamwork, excellent engagement and performance. Also, companies can reduce turnover and increase retention when their employees feel that their uniqueness and a sense of belonging treasured.

Countering Unconscious Bias

Much of what we do on a daily basis is unconscious. This means we are not always conscious of why we do the things we do and what we say about others who don’t look like us. We all know biases come in many forms and can impact all of our interactions, including those occurring in the workplace. So, let us first explain what unconscious bias means. Unconscious bias refers to specific attributes and traits that we quickly assign to other people based on their social categories. Because of our prior prejudice and assumptions, we tend to make negative and snap judgments or decisions about others. And then, prejudice and discrimination arise suddenly.

Why Does It Happen?

As humans, we make irrational decisions based on what we hear from the media or people we meet on a regular basis. Then, our brain involuntarily generates either positive or negative thoughts, assumptions, choices, and decisions about who can feel safe or threat around us, who is likeable, competent, and fit for certain tasks. This is when you start showing preconceived views which are biased and prejudiced towards one gender, race, ethnicity, faith, etc. Undoubtedly, we all have an unconscious bias regardless of our gender, age, and country of origin.

Does Unconscious Bias Affect the Way We Think and See Others?

Naturally, bias is a normal human prejudice that we all have, regardless of how open-minded we consider ourselves to be. In this section, we will examine how our bias affects the way we think and see others, and how such assumptions reward or penalize, promote or demote certain groups of people.

For example, people have a propensity to possess both a positive bias towards their in-group, and a negative bias towards an out-group. Many studies divulge that we favor or prefer the sort of people by whom we are surrounded. When such stereotypes towards certain groups of people are formed, our bias will impact the way we see and interact with others.

Many studies have been written about ways our brain works and processes information in a certain way. Naturally, we gather millions of bits of information and instinctively categorize people according to their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, age, body size, and profession, accent, social status, and job title at the unconscious level.  When we list random social categories, we are creating social labels and stereotypes. So, the information we receive from those around us may have both positive and negative views and interpretations based on our relationships with others. For example, if people around us look and sound like us, then we categorize them approachable, amicable, positive, knowledgeable, polite, and enlightened. If people around us don’t share a similar background, then we see others different, incompetent, and unsocial, and associate them with a host of other negative attributes. One example is that when hiring managers believe women do not have the same ability, then they favor male candidates over female candidates with similar education and experience. Such status differences to which people often cling may not be grounded on actual differences in person’s competence but are based on our implicit assumptions about their ability because we tend to believe certain groups of people don’t possess such competence. 

There is no doubt that the presence of unconscious bias affects recruitment, retention, and promotion of those employees deemed minority.

How Can We Counter Unconscious Bias?

When considering approaches to mitigate or counter the negative consequences of unconscious bias, one must study two components that impact the continuation of our individual and institutional biases.

Individual strategies that address unconscious bias include:

For Women / Racial Minority

  • Recognize your own bias first
  • Challenge your assumptions
  • Speak out when you see or hear gender biases
  • Encourage people around you that men and women are equally effective leaders
  • Pay attention to language or use inclusive language
  • Avoid generalizations
  • Don’t let women be talked over by men
  • Respect women’s ideas
  • Publicly acknowledge the accomplishments of women
  • Encourage women to contribute in meaningful ways  
  • Teach your own family diversity is our strength
  • Get people used to hearing from women and minorities

To address unconscious biases institutionally, employers and companies should use:

  •  Structured interviews in which all candidates regardless of their skin color, sex, language, and religion are asked the same questions
  • Hire, retain, and promote women or people from different backgrounds
  • Make sure your company is not only accepting applications from those who have a white-sounding male name
  • Make sure your hiring department and HR are not excluding particular candidates based on their assumptions of competence
  • Make sure promotions are not accorded to employees based on preference / favoritism
  • Mentor employees from the community of color,
  • Conduct bias awareness training
  • Hire consultants who will train your HRs, managers, and supervisors about cultural competency
  • Include the importance of diversity and inclusion in your employee handbook
  • Increase transparency and accountability. Hold your staff accountable if they refuse to disrespect other underrepresented employees because of their race, creed, sexual orientations, disability, age, and language
  • Be vocal in and advocate for gender parity, and inclusion
  • Don’t hesitate to nullify doubts that other people might have about their competence
  • Encourage the staff around you to use a clear and non-biased language

Even though numerous studies confirm that unconscious biases emanate from the way that our brain is structured, and we are also cognizant that biases are deeply entrenched within us all, but that does not mean we can stop them.  None of us was born with a bias. Anything people learn from through socialization, they can unlearn them.

Because of persistent diversity and inclusion initiatives in place, some companies and employers are committed to investing in formal diversity training to change attitudes and behaviors and diversify their workforce. Filsan Talent Partners consultants and certified coaches are confident that our training sessions will drop bias in hiring and firing. Employers and management teams who took our customized training said that their implicit biases dissipated considerably. Let us not our unconscious bias plague our company’s good image. Together, we can make the world a better place for all of us to live and raise a family.