Remote Work and Diversity: Ensuring Your Distributed Workforce Is Diverse
Diversity has long been a challenge for companies that can’t seem to get past unconscious biases which ensure culture match over culture add. Of the Fortune 500 companies, only 37 are led by female CEOs, and of those, only two are Black women. How can companies do better in diversifying their workforce? It is starting to look like the secret is distribution.
Some (although by no means all) of the issues with non-diversity are addressed by an employee base that is freed from geographic constraints. When the talent pool is enlarged from “the best candidates in NYC” to “the best candidates anywhere”, there’s a chance to shift away from conscious and unconscious biases, and begin to truly diversify.
However, this doesn’t happen without conscious effort. Ensuring that diversity is a cornerstone of a distributed workforce strategy takes commitment and a plan that includes using tools to help attract, identify, and recruit strong remote work candidates regardless of their name, race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, or location.
How Remote Work and Diversity Are Connected
Remote work brings down many barriers traditionally standing in the way of many minority groups. Distributing your workforce means more than having employees telecommute; it’s an opportunity to bring in strong, overlooked talent from everywhere and anywhere.
Remote work and name/race/ethnicity
Hiring for remote work opens the door for non-white applicants by removing many of the obstacles in their way.
- Resumes can be filtered by skill set, instead of name, college they attended, and so on
- Interviews can be conducted first via email or in another blinded format to avoid unconscious bias based on skin color or accent
- References can be weighted based on knowledge of how certain groups rate other groups as a whole.
Diversity pays off. Corporations identified as more diverse and inclusive are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors, and 70% more likely to capture new markets. At a management level, diverse teams can mean up to 19% higher revenues.
Remote work and gender
In early 2020, some 3.5 million formerly actively working mothers living with school-age children left active work as schools shut down. It is anticipated that at least 700,000 will never return to active work, and many more have found their careers derailed, possibly permanently.
The direct tie between women’s ability to work and access to childcare has always been obvious. The expense of childcare is currently at a median average of 15% of a parent's income, more than double the federal standard of affordability (7%). 40% of parents have gone into debt to pay for childcare.
Remote work makes it possible for women to re-enter the workforce without incurring these heavy costs, which are only part of the expense of being a woman at work. Women spend triple what men do on “office appropriate wardrobes” due to gender expectations - they can’t simply wear similar suits, shirts, and shoes every day.
Remote work and age
Age discrimination is insidious and hard to prove. Remote work makes it easier for older candidates to show their worth via skill-based evaluations rather than being judged automatically as past their prime, out of touch, or difficult to retrain due to their age.
Remote work and disability
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was designed to prevent discrimination in the workplace and to provide for necessary accommodations. Unfortunately, the Act isn’t always enforced, and companies find ways to get around compliance. This can leave highly talented individuals without access to the workforce. Remote work makes it possible for many skilled workers with disabilities to more easily enter employment.
Remote work and location
The ability to work from home untethers Americans from big cities, allowing them to move out of crowded city centers or say goodbye to expensive neighborhoods chosen in an effort to shorten their daily commute. Candidates can and do live anywhere and can now apply for work with companies previously out of their reach.
The number of workers identifying as “digital nomads” has recently nearly tripled, rising from 4.8 million in 2018 to 15.5 million in 2021. Many of these workers choose to live and work in areas where the cost of living is low, but quality of life is high. Half make as much or more than before they became nomads, and only 30% report regularly working more than 40 hours a week.
Tools That Bridge Remote Work and Diversity Goals
Embracing tools that encourage diversity can help recruiters build strong remote teams from management to base-level employees. These tools can include robust application tracking systems (ATS), candidate relationship management (CRM) software, internal communications strategies to ensure fast input and signoff from different stakeholders in the recruitment process, and so on.
Digital tools that help automate key recruitment processes should be top of the list. Being able to get high-value candidates from initial application to the offer stage quickly can mean the difference between securing them as an employee and losing them to a competitor with a faster talent acquisition process.
However, fast isn’t the only metric for successful remote hiring. Accuracy is even more critical, to prevent employee churn and the costs of a bad hire — which can easily run into four figures for many employees and much higher for C-suite positions.
Crosschq 360 takes one of the most time-consuming and bias-prone processes in the recruitment funnel and makes it faster, more accurate, and more evenhanded. This digital reference checking option helps recruiters surface candidates with the best-matched skills and get fast feedback from former coworkers and managers.
This can be looked at side-by-side with the same attributes ranked for other candidates by their own references, and compared to the candidate’s own self-reference score. The result is an apples-to-apples view of all top-ranked candidates which can be used to inform hiring decision making, avoid unconscious bias, and improve quality of hire as well as diversity across the organization’s remote employee base.
Interested in learning more about how to achieve diversity goals in a distributed workforce? Request a Crosschq 360 demo today.
From pre-hire to post-hire, Crosschq helps you source, screen, onboard, and measure the best talent. Fast.
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Topics from this blog: Remote WorkBack