It’s increasingly clear that although the novel 2019 coronavirus does not discriminate in who it infects, it does harm some groups of people more than others. The emerging evidence suggests that people who are Black, are 65 and older, or have certain conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension, are more likely to become severely ill from COVID-19. But income and occupation also play a role. The current pandemic has exposed inequities in society where, for example, segments of the workforce do not have health insurance, paid sick leave, the ability to work from home, or the ability to apply for unemployment benefits. For some, sheltering in place means a stressful, long-term inconvenience; for others, it means putting yourself at greater risk of domestic violence, or maybe choosing between losing paychecks or showing up inperson for jobs that put you and your loved ones at greater risk of being infected.
In honor of Celebrate Diversity Month, the guest for this episode of On the Evidence is Ralanda Nelson, who leads diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at Mathematica. Nelson started her job in March, two weeks into Mathematica’s company-wide shift to working from home.
In the interview, we discuss what it’s like to start a new job while sheltering in place; Nelson’s career path to her current role; and how the pandemic is spotlighting problems related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Listen to the full episode below.
About five years ago, Mathematica set new goals related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Cleo Jacobs Johnson, a senior survey researcher who served as the company’s acting chief diversity officer in 2019, reported on the company’s progress in this blog post.
For more on the history of Mathematica’s efforts related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, read Chief Executive Officer Paul Decker’s blog about creating the chief diversity officer position, employee resource groups, and a mentoring program.