Many organisations are shifting their working models from office-based to hybrid and remote-first, primarily to offer greater flexibility to employees. But is there also an opportunity to utilise this trend to broaden hiring diversity and inclusion (D&I).
Building a robust D&I strategy is proven to deliver better ideas, solutions and a more attractive place to work, with 70% of employees looking to join a diverse team.
But as teams work away from the office and embrace a remote working model, how can you create an inclusive and diverse working environment? Are there ways to initiate diversity and inclusion activities while working from home? What structural changes do you need to make?
The good news is that scaleups, remote work and diversity and inclusion can actually go hand-in-hand. Here are several tips and practices that you can use in a remote-first or hybrid environment to make inclusivity central to your strategy:
1. Formulate your own D&I policy
A D&I policy is the foundation on which your vision for an open and tolerant workplace will rest. This must sit side by side with your remote work policy.
A remote team is not going to be sitting side by side in cubicles or stretched out over an open-plan office. How personal interactions work is markedly different. Within this policy must be an outline of what it means to be equal and diverse in your company. Respected boundaries, rules and regulations need to be woven into the document. Crucially, the policy needs to highlight how your organisation will implement everything in a remote setting.
2. Create an internal D&I team
Accountability is paramount when it comes to hiring diversity and inclusion. A D&I team should be set up to review and analyse where you have diversity or inclusion gaps in your organisation.
Handpicking a D&I internal team, a member or two from each department, is the first step to keeping your organisation accountable. Employees can be honest and straightforward about ways you could improve diversity and inclusion practices. They won’t back down when it comes to ideas on how to promote an inclusive work environment either.
Not only will an internal team be able to pinpoint where your organisation needs to evolve but also highlight how to achieve these D&I goals – all from their own personal working spaces. Assigning weekly catch-up calls and initiating actions from each meeting, for example, can enable a smooth remote D&I team to function uninhibited and transform your company’s culture.
3. Remove bias
The very nature of remote working actually helps remove certain biases. Think of the office environment and the standard HR hiring processes. Biases of race, religion, gender and more (both positive and negative) can directly or indirectly impact hiring decisions and other decision making in your organisation.
From a remote working environment, you can set up bias training over communication channels, develop reporting mechanisms and more. These can train and monitor remote teams, so they can appreciate the differences that empower team members. Employees can then apply these processes to everyday interactions with teammates, so they are not acting in a way that is unconsciously biased when on video calls, sending emails, or posting in group chat.
Also, with the right talent intelligence partner onboard, you can set up processes that remove bias from your hiring diversity processes.
4. Widen your talent pool
One of the benefits of remote working is your employees can work from anywhere, increasing their levels of flexibility. It also opens the door to a wider pool of talent available to hire. A global workforce is at your fingertips.
Hiring from around the globe enables you to build a diverse team from the ground up that comes from a range of backgrounds. Not only that, different outlooks can drive new ideas, broaden innovation and decision making throughout every department. In fact, diverse teams make better decisions 87% of the time more than non-diverse teams.
5. Actively prioritise D&I in your hiring
Driving inclusion while working remotely should be front and centre, both in your company’s values and your operational strategies.
There are numerous practices that make this possible:
- Review your current hiring practices for bias (unconscious or not)
- Instil practices into the hiring team, including bias training
- Use inclusive language on job adverts
Once implemented, you will have a hiring process that enables you to source talent from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.
Celebrate your diversity
Startups are the perfect environment for empowering D&I practices. So, many of the most successful tech companies have integrated D&I organically, with founders from the US building companies in Europe with a Co-Founder from Latin America and Asian investors, or any other number of combinations.
At a scaleup you need to create a culture in which diversity is native to your processes, allowing you to access top talent from all sources, and accepting differences as opportunities for growth. Having diversity as a part of your company DNA puts you closer to the people you want in your team, and it allows you to walk the walk when it comes to D&I values.
There is no world in which we are blind to differentiators what we can do is face them head-on with the goal of closing gaps and giving others a seat at the table with hiring diversity, a space in the engineer’s lounge, and a chance a being part of creating the future of tech.