Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. The transition from office-based teams to remote teams. These are two of the biggest trends to affect companies in recent years, and they have caused organizations in nearly every industry to reexamine the way they do business.
In many cases, managing remote teams and launching new DEI initiatives have cost companies money, and both trends have been known to cause anxiety among company leaders. But neither of these changes looks likely to reverse any time soon.
This is actually great news for businesses, and those that still approach these trends with trepidation or frustration are likely overcomplicating matters. New technologies are making it easier for companies to manage remote teams and accomplish their DEI goals.
And these technologies offer distinct benefits for just for employers, but for employees.
The Benefits of DEI and Remote Work
A study conducted by McKinsey has found that companies with strong DEI initiatives are financially outperforming companies that are not. The bottom line is a strong case for DEI programs. Many argue that businesses are just that, businesses. Their purpose is to make money so they should focus on initiatives that will help them increase profitability. But companies who are investing in DEI initiatives are doing just that, according to the study.
When businesses broaden their recruiting efforts, they can tap more diverse candidates that they otherwise would have missed out on. And when it comes to recruiting the best talent, employees today are looking to work for companies that prioritize diversity.
“Hiring for diversity will help you better understand your customers’ needs. The more diverse your workforce is, the greater the chances are that your employees will be able to cater to individual customer needs,” says the Academy for Improving HR. This is well said, because recruiting a well-rounded and diverse workforce will only help a business reach more customers.
Moving from work entirely based in the office to a hybrid or remote model can also bring financial benefits. Distributed workplace dynamics can empower companies and their employees to accomplish more.
DEI initiatives often involve making an investment. But the companies that launch these initiatives see a return on this investment.
Companies reap many of these same benefits from embracing the move to remote work. Offering flexibility means recruiting and retaining the talent that is necessary to keep a company on the leading edge. When geographic boundaries disappear from the hiring process, businesses get a much deeper talent pool to fish from. This, like DEI, has a positive impact on the bottom line.
New HR technologies can streamline these substantive workplace changes for employers, helping them manage teams that are based in far-flung locations and ensuring that the company is keeping its DEI programs on track.
And rolling out these technologies can happen without friction, because new HR programs have distinct benefits for employees too.
Why Employees Love The New Workplace
Remote work and DEI programs offer tangible benefits for employees. Increasingly, they are demanding both. And there are important reasons why they are.
Social bias is real, and it can affect our workplaces in a significant way. A primarily white workplace can feel isolating for employees of color. A religious minority may feel misunderstood or left out. Members of the LGBTQ+ community can grow quickly exhausted by the difference in treatment or feel the need to hide or explain their identity constantly. Hybrid work—enabled by new technologies–can vastly improve the workplace for these groups. Social bias tends to grow in the margins of social interactions—which are limited and more intentional in a hybrid working environment.
Women worldwide are still assuming the lion’s share of childcare and housework. There is a substantial gap in pay and leadership when it comes to women in the workplace, and it’s hurting businesses of all kinds. Hybrid work is one way that women have been able to level the playing field.
People with disabilities make up 15% of the global population. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 created a baseline for accessibility in the workplace, making it easier for disabled employees to successfully apply, obtain, and perform their jobs. However, this doesn’t mean it’s always a comfortable and productive environment. For employees with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities, a rigid and in-person working environment can be impossible at times.
Hybrid work allows each employee to create an environment and a hybrid working schedule that allows them to shine. When your company offers flexible hybrid working, you’re signaling an environment that can be catered to the needs of employees with disabilities and you’ll get the very best from these talented employees.
Visual bias has also been rampant in the modern workplace. Tall people are perceived as more capable than short ones, while larger bodies can be judged as less intelligent as we associate intelligence and leadership with more physically fit bodies (although there are no concrete reasons why we should). Visual bias based on attractiveness, body type, ethnic and racial features, and other physical traits can creep into our business dealings and negatively impact our actions—not to mention making our colleagues uncomfortable.
When employees are allowed to work remotely or choose the times they work in office, we can decrease much of that visual bias. People don’t need to rely on their physical presence to positively impact their chances for promotion, or worry that they’re being unfairly labeled due to the way they look.
Technology is leveling the playing field for employees, which is something that can also help businesses meet DEI goals and properly manage remote teams. So with this in mind, what are the technologies that every business needs today?
The Tech Necessities
There are a range of HR tech tools available today, and every company has its own unique needs. But there are some tools that have become indispensable for any business with DEI goals and a need to manage remote teams. They are:
Zoom. Video connection services are essential for hybrid employees to stay connected. The ability to see one another can help to increase connections amongst team members. When individuals feel seen and heard by their peers, they are more likely to thrive.
Slack. This popular tool allows for specific groups, as well as individuals, to communicate instantaneously. This opens up communication channels to give every employee a voice, a chance to ask questions, and an opportunity to give feedback in a safe, secure environment.
Kudoboard. This is a platform that makes appreciation and celebration accessible for employees in a distributed workplace. Individuals and groups can be recognized for personal and professional achievements in an inclusive way.
Slido. Taking a company’s temperature is important. This voting application makes it easy to quickly gather responses to a question, weigh options, and keep your finger on the pulse of workplace engagement. Employees who are underrepresented or feel they are unable to speak up in meetings can share thoughts anonymously via polls.
Many companies have struggled to launch effective DEI programs and manage teams based all over the world. But the key to making both work smoothly is the adoption of new technologies. The good news for employees is that many of the tools they need will help them accomplish both goals at once.
Aaron Rubens is the Co-founder and CEO of Kudoboard.