Diversity, equity, and inclusion is a growing priority for HR in companies of all sizes. A remote workforce can make some aspects of diversity easier, and others harder. So, how can you ensure that DEI is a priority for your company, especially while most people are working remotely?
Loss of Visibility
The networking that goes on in the office is important for everyone. However, employees of color and LGBTQ+ employees notice the lack of networking the most. Diverse employees may find that a lot of their social support is at work, especially if you have been doing things right by them and ensuring a supportive office environment.
When working from home, they may feel isolated. It’s particularly important to touch base with these demographics. Everyone should be getting check-ins and one-on-ones, but it’s good to pay special attention to those who might be particularly affected by the isolation.
Supporting Working Parents
Working parents face a particular challenge with remote work. Childcare may be extremely hard to get and in some cases parents may be trying to work and children study in the same room. Working mothers are more likely to reduce their hours or quit their job in order to take on childcare and homeschooling. Working with valued employees on childcare and school-related difficulties can help reduce turnover and get everyone through the crisis. It’s also worth considering that permanent work-from-home, considered by many companies, may affect this demographic negatively.
Continue DEI Workshops and Training
It’s easy for workshops and training to get forgotten, especially ones which aren’t related to core competencies. DEI practitioners are still offering these sessions in a virtual format, which is useful through these times and may be useful after them by allowing you to choose a consultant without regard to geography.
It’s important not to lose ground on your DEI efforts just because people aren’t in the office.
Difficulty Creating Space
There can often be a blithe assumption by managers that when they put employees in remote work, the employee has everything they need to make that happen. Some employees may struggle to have good internet access. Even people close to large cities can sometimes be far enough “out” to make good access a challenge. For that matter, not being able to use a Zoom virtual background to hide clutter can make the employee seem “poor” or “careless”.
Others may not have the space to convert to a home office. For some employees, their office ends up being a corner of the living room, with a negative effect on workplace balance. These challenges tend to disproportionately affect diverse employees. You can support your employees by consulting with them on ergonomics, discussing their issues, and accepting those challenges. If you are returning to the office, consider these factors when deciding who comes back in a staggering return. Providing a telecommuting allowance or improved equipment supports employees who might not have equal access to space or technology at home.
Benefits play a major role in diversity initiatives. Benefits equality means everyone has access to health benefits, including part-timers.
Benefit equity goes a bit beyond that. It makes sure that not only do people have access to health benefits, but they have equal opportunity to use them. You achieve benefit equity by ensuring that your plan contains the ability to optimize benefits, rather than being simply one-size-fits-all. You also achieve it through education. For example, low earners may choose a plan with a lower deductible. An equity audit is a good way to find out whether your benefits are equitable.
Benefits and Diversity & Inclusion With a Remote Workforce
Including employee benefits in the DEI discussion is key. From worse than average health outcomes to less use of benefits, this group deserves your attention. Some employees may need more support than others to navigate these challenges. Providing benefit equity can make a huge difference that will carry on even when and if you return to the office. Contact us to learn more about how we can help. With Benefits Zone, you can educate and capture key data about these groups for a more inclusive benefits offering.