Pre-pandemic, diversity and inclusion was a key agenda item. But with more pressing concerns, it has had to take a backseat. 27 per cent of diversity and inclusion leaders report that all or most diversity and inclusion initiatives have been put on hold during COVID-19.
Tech is one of the fastest growing sectors in UK industry, yet it has long struggled to keep up with the rest of the economy when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Minorities and women are often underrepresented. Women hold just five per cent of tech leadership positions, and only four per cent of the tech workforce is black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME). Greater diversity and inclusion benefits everyone, not just employees. McKinsey’s Diversity Matters report found that companies with high levels of diversity were 33 per cent more likely to outperform their competitors.
As organisations move forward into 2021, it is time to revisit diversity and inclusion initiatives, especially regarding the new benefits of remote working. Remote working is now becoming a permanent feature in industry and has the opportunity to benefit diversity and inclusion. Firms should continue to use this shift as an opportunity to create a permanent change in the workplace.
So, how can remote working benefit diversity and inclusion?
Eradicates hiring bias
Remote working promotes diversity and inclusion from the beginning of the hiring process. It allows organisations to hire outside of their typical geographical location and reach more diverse talent.
Embracing online communication gives organisations an opportunity to open up their recruiting processes and hire outside their typical employee profile. It can help create more innovative ways of appealing to diverse talent and create a culture of inclusivity.
Common perception biases can often prevent diverse candidates from being promoted or even hired in the first place. Although organisations still need to address these issues, there is less chance that these biases will have an impact when working remotely. Prospective candidates and employees are judged on their productivity and the value of their work and what they can bring to the business.
COVID-19 has shone a light on people’s varied situations and needs. Many employees are now balancing a greater number of personal and professional priorities, and employers have had to be flexible to accommodate this.
Employees no longer have to follow the nine ‘til five approach, instead they can now fit work around their personal circumstances. Whether your workforce has caring responsibilities, are adapting to a new routine, or are overwhelmed by the extended period away from the workplace, offering a flexible pattern to working will demonstrate that you are an inclusive business.
This new flexibility opens up the workplace to a much diverse workforce and allows employees to flourish regardless of their circumstances.
Prioritising wellbeing and support
As employees work independently, and without the in-person interactions we’ve become so used to, there is a unique opportunity developing to prioritise the wellbeing of your workforce. Employers are now considering concerns around isolation and low morale, putting the safety of their teams above all else.
Extra effort, support and time is being given to individuals within the team. Each person will be having different experiences working from a remote location, meaning that employers can take action to build an inclusive working environment, even though there is no physical contact.
Remote working is an opportunity for tech organisations to reassess and redefine their current workplace. It is crucial that organisations do not go back to outdated practices and instead use remote working as a catalyst to create a more inclusive and diverse future.