Can remote work foster workforce diversity?



By Sonji Young:


As millions of workers continue to adjust to the dynamics of working remote due to the pandemic, many companies are wondering what impact this shift may potentially have on their ability to attract and recruit diverse talent.


Since March, employees have been thrusted into adjusting to the new normal which has had varying impact upon job searches, interviews, and available career opportunities. Prior to the pandemic, most companies were adamant about "working from work", leaving little flexibility around the notion of working from home. For some, working from home was seen as the antithesis to productivity and posed an erosion of corporate culture.


Nearly nine months into what seems to be lasting much longer than anticipated, corporations are realizing that remote work is likely here to stay. As a result of that change, recruiters and talent acquisition teams are working to identify ways to use this time to ramp up their diversity recruitment efforts.


In past recruitment scenarios, most roles were restricted to operate out of a company's corporate headquarters or affiliate offices. At times, this aspect alone limited the capacity to attract diverse talent, especially for corporations that operate in more non-diverse communities. In addition to location, employees grappled with long commutes and extended time away from home.


One advantage that these times offer is the ability to potentially widen the net of diverse talent. Now that most corporations are operating on a work-from-home basis, those companies that would typically struggle with access to diverse talent can now use remote work as a key selling point. The option to work from home is appealing to diverse talent, and is ideal for those who are eager to stay in their respective geography.


Working from home also poses some challenges for recruiting diverse talent. One issue in particular is the invasion of safety, something that simply compounds the hurdles faced by diverse talent. While in-office culture created a clear demarcation between home and work, remote work now impedes upon boundaries that employees could once use to create identity and psychological safety. The influx of video calls and meetings can open up more critical, unforgiving judgement of the socioeconomic aspects and cultural differences that exist between employees.


Whether remote work will continue to enable the development of more diverse workplaces remains to be seen. Corporations that are eager to realize the benefits of remote work must continually observe the impact it has on connecting with diverse talent, but also what is needed to mitigate the challenges it poses upon diverse talent.


Disclaimer: The views and commentary shared in this blog article are the opinions of Sonji Young.

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