6 Ways Telecommuting Helps Businesses Champion Diversity & Inclusion

champion diversity

Diversity and inclusion are two main features of our society that will define the new era of economic growth. Set the stage today to be a pioneer of tomorrow by utilizing telecommuting to champion diversity and inclusion in your business.

6 Ways Telecommuting Helps Businesses Champion Diversity & Inclusion

Telecommuting can be a doorway into increasing your business’s diversity score. When it comes to embracing the benefits of a diverse workforce varied in ethnicity, culture, sexuality, gender, and ability, just to name a few examples, remote work options are a seamless way to engage professionals from all backgrounds.

This kind of inclusion not only benefits the work environment, but also increases your potential for growth, your talent pool, and your access to viable markets by engaging a wider audience for your product or service.

To put it simply: champion diversity and inclusion and your business will be better.

Here are six ways telecommuting can help your business champion diversity and inclusion.

1. Telecommuting and Professionals with Disabilities

Professionals with disabilities are innovative, talented, and can bring a variety of underrepresented perspectives to your business, yet, like with many candidates, transportation and comfort within the office space can deter some star applicants from considering your business for future employment.

A survey by Think Beyond the Label found that out of 200 workers with disabilities, 65% held bachelor’s degrees and noted remote work as the second most desirable consideration when choosing a job. However, don’t play into the misconception that the preference for telecommuting options is directly related to disability. Professionals with disabilities are just as likely as any other worker to accept a job without remote options and only need special accommodations about 30% of the time.

Telecommuting increases access to the technology, workplace flexibility, and work-life balance in high demand by workers of all ability levels.

What remote work does especially well is level the playing field for all workers to have the opportunity to showcase their skills regardless of ability. Greater workplace integration of professionals with disabilities through telecommuting can help reduce blanket misconceptions, stereotypes, and falsehoods about the capabilities of workers of different ability levels.

But remember: it is not up to professionals with disabilities to help able-bodied workers understand and respect them as equals; it is up to those who harbor misconceptions and prejudices about professionals with disabilities to seek the truth and educate themselves.

An inclusive, remote work space is an environment that encourages equality and the breakdown of stereotypes that limit everyone in achieving quality collaboration across differences.

2. Diversity and Hiring

Traditional hiring practices rely heavily on in-person interviewing, the sense of a candidate’s fit into company culture, an applicant’s ability to verbally articulate potential contributions, and often, the hiring manager’s own instincts. However, a gut feeling isn’t based in measurable data. In fact, those instincts can be rooted in unconscious biases that impact hiring decisions and bypass valuable talent for more familiar options. Telecommuting and online hiring practices can help to bring standardization, quantitative measurement, and diversity into your candidate decision-making process.

When choosing to conduct interviews completely online, there are many options such as online skills testing, that can help you select the top talent for your business. Projects, articles, and creative assessments assist in hand-picking choice applicants in a way that relies less on how well they present themselves in an interview and more on how well they perform on job-related tasks. This is not to say that cultural fit is not important, however, pushing the culture of your business toward diversity in terms of race, gender, and physical presentation is vital to keeping up with a continuously evolving world.

As we’ve noted, people from diverse backgrounds come with a wealth of information and innovative ideas that can help grow and sustain your business for years to come.

Discrimination is not only illegal, but also limits your business’s ability to sustain itself as buying power of underrepresented groups shifts.

There are major trends in the economy that you may be missing if you’re not keyed into a variety of sources in authentic ways. Due to an out of tuned sense of your customers’ wants or ideals, your brand could easily misrepresent your products or services to a key audience or miss the target when it comes to a marketing campaign (Kendall Jenner and Pepsi, anyone?)

3. The Multi-Generational Office

The divide between generations is often facilitated by the lack of exposure beyond one’s core age group. As older workers reach retirement age they may still want to contribute to their field, but not commit to an office space. Meanwhile, younger employees are looking to establish careers that revolve around flexible arrangements.

Regardless of one’s age and motivation to work remotely, according to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, 37% of professionals would take a pay cut to work from home. This provides some pretty solid common ground among people of varying generations who could both benefit from the skills each bring to the table. Younger employers will benefit from the experience older workers have garnered within their industries, whereas more seasoned professionals can learn from the intuitive technological know-how of younger workers.

Providing a space where people can connect over shared passion for their work without a heavy focus on age is a great opportunity to bridge the gap between generations and see substantial growth through collaborations.

Studies show that intergenerational connections are beneficial on many levels and diversity in age within the workplace increases the potential for innovation. Mentorship, mutual respect, and a larger web of ideas and ways of thinking about the world lead to an environment pulsating with creative energy on which your business can capitalize.

Related: Remote Collaboration: Methods for Effective Virtual Communication

4. Take Your Team Global

Have a need to reach Mandarin, Spanish or French speaking clients but your local candidate pool doesn’t fit the language requirement? Telecommuting makes it possible to extend your business both nationally and internationally, capturing new markets and benefiting from the inclusion of workers from across the globe.

Hiring from a larger pool of candidates not only benefits your business’s bottom line, but also increases the worldview of your company—keeping you at the peak of creativity and adding renewable energy in the form of a varied, inclusive team.

Competition in the workforce is a good thing; it drives transformation in every industry. In a traditional work space, adding locations to your business means serious capitol. With remote work, you can expand your reach and your workforce with less money.

Connecting your current employees with a network of team members from different cities and countries can be a notable work perk. Acquiring new skills through cross-training becomes much more lucrative when your team is inclusive. Understanding the dynamics of the economies and needs of different locations expands the effectiveness of your team.

5. Women and Remote Work

Although women in the workforce have substantially increased their earnings potential, the pay gap persists—particularly for black and Latino women. Remote work provides a vehicle for underpaid workers to advocate for equal pay and reduces the tendency for lower salary offers by forgoing the in-person negotiations for a purely performance-based model.

Women in the workforce often have to deal with discrimination, harassment, and unfair policies that stem solely from gender differences. Yes, the glass ceiling is real, but embracing the potential of women as leaders capable and deserving of equal treatment in the workplace can push forward economic growth.

When remote teams base their promotion and raise criterion solely on measurable outcomes, all workers benefit.

6. Caregivers and Flexible Work

Women still maintain the primary caregiver role in many U.S. households, and this role affects women’s career trajectories. A New York Times report showed that millennial mothers have lower career expectations than previous generations and generally believe that being a mother limits their career mobility in workplaces that do not support their need for flexibility, sick days or paid leave.

It isn’t just mothers feeling the burden of caregiving. A 2016 Virtual Vocations survey found that 43% of established telecommuters and telecommute jobseekers care for children or a family member in their homes on a regular basis. Many working professionals will have to reduce their hours or leave their jobs to take care of an aging relative. Caregivers commonly called the “sandwich generation” are simultaneously caring for small children and older relatives, doubling the stress and financial burden they face while trying to balance a career as well.

Even with two working caregivers within a household, the load can feel unbearable. The stress and strain of caring for a loved one shouldn’t also come with the anxiety of knowing that doing so could cost you your income.

Flexible work options not only facilitate caregivers to re-enter the workforce, but also give partners of caregivers the ability to take on some of these responsibilities.

Related: Telecommuting Families: Caring for Loved Ones While Working Remotely

Employers Ahead of the Curve to Champion Diversity

The time is now to corner the market on diversity. Ramp up your diversity and inclusion training, infuse equality practices into your mission, and promote remote work practices to lay the groundwork for effective execution of more robust efforts to champion diversity in your company. If you’re looking to increase diversity, yet don’t quite know where to start, there are some amazing role models out there already blazing a trail for equality.

Virtual Vocations notes this list of 10 remote employers that promote diversity. Companies like ADP, Deloitte, and PricewaterhouseCoopers utilize their remote work programs to push for inclusion and stand out among their competitors as cultural trendsetters. These businesses are already leading the way. Your business can join the inclusion movement and help make our workforce stronger and more diverse with flexible work options that bring equality to innovation.

Have you considered telecommuting as a solution for your business to champion diversity and inclusion? Share your story when you connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you! 

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