As many organizations continue to address threats to business continuity and recovery, making meaningful efforts towards diversity, equity, and inclusion has become a top priority. The reason? This leads to increased financial performance, greater levels of innovation, and a thriving business.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, however, during the pandemic might not be so clear-cut. It can be a challenge for business leaders to give employees that sense of belonging especially when many are working from home and collaborating remotely.
As long-term virtual work arrangements become the new normal, here are seven ways leadership can sustain a diverse, equitable, and inclusive remote work environment:
- Understand and address unconscious bias The first step towards real change is having awareness of unconscious personal biases and assumptions. According to an Insights 2020 study by the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), associations or feelings of bias do not necessarily align with declared beliefs. It is important for business leaders to help employees identify and analyze their own unconscious personal biases and assumptions. As they become more aware how those biases influence their decision-making and actions, they can avoid stereotyping individuals in the workplace and refute or replace those biases.
- Exercise cultural humilityFostering a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment involves remaining curious and humble about cultural differences. Leaders and employees alike must accept the fact that they are on a continuous learning journey when it comes to showing tolerance and respect for other people’s experiences and realities.
According to one Harvard Business Review article, technology can provide guidance on actions for becoming culturally competent and moving forward. “Internal bias training can be designed to reduce defensiveness by explaining that we don’t have unconscious biases because we’re bad people – we have them because we are people.”
But internal bias training isn’t a one-time session; it entails long-term structural organizational changes. After being educated of a combination of strategies, leaders and employees are expected to use what they’ve learned as they interact with each other. The more these strategies are practices, the more effective they will be in helping people to develop empathy, diversify their networks, and inspire change around the workplace.
- Promote pay equity
Organizations can leverage analytics to level out the playing field and pinpoint ay pay gaps that may exist within teams or departments. Managers must identify patterns or trends that reveal which employees are underpaid for similar responsibilities or roles.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, “By ensuring employees are paid equitably, employers can increase efficiency, creativity and productivity by helping to attract the best employees, reduce turnover and increase commitment to the organization.”
- Develop a strategic training program Diversity training isn’t just about understanding how cultural differences can impact how employees interact and communicate in a virtual setting. It should also focus on training that aligns with the organization’s initiatives and plans for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Leaders must also clearly communicate the reason behind such training programs to keep virtual workers motivated on how the learnings tie back to broader company goals.
- Listen to employee needsIn a work from home setting, business leaders must work harder to establish direct communication to get to know employees on a personal level and to make them feel sense of belonging in a remote work environment. Acknowledge stressful situations that may affect employees, allow people to share openly how they are feeling, and assure them that they can get the support they need.
- Promote the formation of ERGsEmployee Resource Groups (ERGs) are voluntary, employee-managed groups that aims to support colleagues, tackle company-wide issues, and drive business goals. Virtual ERGs bring together those who share commonalities such as gender, background, or lifestyle to help increase employee facetime, identify leaders in the making, and improve cross-departmental collaboration.
- Track progress over extended periods of timeThe success of DEI efforts can only be evident as time passes by. Organizations, therefore, must set benchmarks and track their progress to assess what strategies are working, and which ones are falling short. By addressing areas of the business in which discrimination can exist and replacing company policies with more positive ones, this will be a move towards diverse, equitable, and inclusive remote work environment.
With more employees working from home, business leaders recognize that diversity, equity, and inclusion is not an option – it’s a necessity. If you need expert advice on DEI strategies and plans for your remote teams, contact ClinkIT Solutions today.