It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that remote teams automatically equate to a diverse workforce. However, although hiring a more diverse workforce can be easier with location independent employees, it doesn’t just happen by itself.
Yes, it’s true that remote businesses can cast a bigger net when hiring and recruiting, which gives them access to talent coming from different localities. However, achieving diversity and inclusion still needs to be intentional, even among remote teams.
Having a diverse workforce isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s a business advantage, plain and simple. Over time, advocates of workplace diversity and inclusion have built a strong case to persuade business leaders to adopt more diverse and inclusive policies in their organizations. Here are just a few of the most recent additions to the growing list of evidence that supports the need for diversity:
Diversity isn’t a new ideal either—not as a societal ideology, and definitely not as a workplace concept. In fact, a number of scholars credit President Truman as the pioneer of workplace diversity when he desegregated the armed services in 1948.
Any way you look at it, remote teams—whether they’re part of a startup or a more-established enterprise—benefit from the competitive edge that diversity and inclusion bring in measurable business metrics such as profitability and productivity.
To reap these benefits, remote teams should be mindful and strategic of their hiring and human resource management practices. Here are 5 ways remote teams can ensure they build and leverage diversity and inclusion.
Without the restrictions of hiring from a single location, it’s perplexing to see how some companies limit hiring for their remote teams to one country, or even one city or geographic region.
This could be driven by three primary factors:
First, there’s a preconceived notion that fields of expertise are confined to a specific region. For instance, Eastern Europe is known to have really good programmers while Asia is known for its writers and digital marketing virtual employees.
The second is operational concerns. For instance, a number of businesses will only hire remote employees from specific locations so the time zone difference isn’t that big. Language is also a key consideration for some.
The last is budget. Currency exchange comes into play. It’s natural for companies to try and save on wage costs as much as possible.
Companies with the resources should build a globally diversified team, however. While it’s true that certain regions or countries are known for specific expertise, this shouldn’t limit you from posting your job openings in channels that have a global reach.
To address these concerns, here are a few best practices:
Companies that minimize their operational issues as much as possible will also minimize the hurdles to take their hiring global.
Buffer, a 100% remote company, assembles a yearly report called The State of Remote Work. Through the years, one of the recurring challenges that remote workers report is the feeling of loneliness.
A distributed team may be diverse, but it still may not be inclusive. This can exacerbate feelings of loneliness that remote workers are already predisposed to. This is especially true for foreign remote workers and those who belong to minority or underrepresented groups. Without an inclusive culture, they could feel like they’re “second class citizens” in an organization.
An alienating culture may be deliberate or unintentional. Either way, companies with remote teams should take it upon themselves to guarantee that all employees, regardless of background, feel valued and are treated equally.
Here are a few strategies to jump start a more inclusive workplace:
Diversity and inclusion are difficult to establish and all the more challenging to practice and maintain. When remote employees start feeling discriminated against and unsafe, diversity and inclusion fail. Business leaders must continually strive to spot cracks in their diversity and inclusion efforts. One of the best ways to do this is to give employees a voice through safe, judgment-free channels where they can speak openly, express their thoughts, and bring to light any grievances.
Remote teams are primed to benefit from diversity and inclusion, but strategic and thoughtful efforts need to be taken, especially among heads of business, and HR leaders. Diversity and inclusion should form part of a remote organization’s core hiring and HR management pillars through global hiring practices, training to foster inclusive behaviors, and creating platforms where remote employees can speak up.
Dean Mathews is the founder and CEO of OnTheClock, an employee time tracking app that helps over 10,000 companies all around the world track time.
Dean has over 20 years of experience designing and developing business apps. He views software development as a form of art. If the artist creates a masterpiece, many people’s lives are touched and changed for the better.
When he is not perfecting time tracking, Dean enjoys expanding his faith, spending time with family and friends, and finding ways to make the world just a little better.
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