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Supporting marginalised groups in Ukraine

By Lydia Cronin

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As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, it puts the safety of Ukrainian people and their right to determine their own future at stake. Russian citizens are also isolated through travel bans, barred financial transactions, and being shut out of a range of world events. Impacts have been felt globally, especially in neighbouring countries who have been most affected by the refugee crisis and Russia’s historical actions. Stories of racism experienced by Black people at the border and antisemitism are showing further divisions. 

In times of crisis, people who are already marginalised often face higher risks and can not always count on social assistance. Inclusion has never been more important, globally, at work, and in our personal lives. 

We have gathered some avenues of support and resources for impacted marginalised groups:

Inside our organisations, it’s important to think about how this difficult time can affect our colleagues. It can be difficult to maintain division between our personal and professional lives, and the news may impact people’s wellbeing and ability to work.

Some ways to manage this at work include:

  • Allow space to speak, but do not make contribution to the conversation mandatory. Ensure colleagues are met with empathy.
  • Be aware especially of how Russian, Ukrainian, or Eastern-European colleagues may be feeling. Reactions may be complex and colleagues may be stressed for family members. We shouldn’t assume our colleagues’ opinions or that they will want to share them in the workplace.
  • Provide flexibility where possible, such as flexible working options and time off for affected employees. 
  • Encourage employees to access support such as mental health first aiders and Employee Assistance Programmes. Many companies set up psychological support during the pandemic and these can be reshared with employees during this time. 
  • Think ahead to long-term work ability support that may be required for some employees if there will be significant changes to work or ongoing stress.