Building a Remote Workforce

Traditional Recruitment Is Failing Minorities: How to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in Your Remote Workforce

by Shanea Patterson
Traditional Recruitment Is Failing Minorities: How to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in Your Remote Workforce

Traditional recruitment is failing minorities. It's up to you to lead the charge for change and promote diversity and inclusion in your remote workforce.

Diversity in the workplace has been an issue in the corporate world for decades. Traditional recruitment seems to be the issue, often excluding and overlooking minorities from the recruitment process. Even if hired, minorities are often subjected to toxic workplace culture and environments as a result of them being so highly underrepresented in certain spaces, such as the tech industry.

Despite the fact that there's a clear issue with traditional recruitment, some companies simply haven't made enough progress to push forward any real change. And this issue is further complicated by the new remote working requirements due to the pandemic.

What Is Diversity and Inclusion?

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is the idea that your team should consist of the same demographics as the people in the world around you. That means your staff should come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, as well as gender, socioeconomic levels, religion, race, sexual orientation, and more. Diversity can mean inherent diversity (race, gender, and age) or acquired diversity (experience, values, education, skills, and knowledge).

Why Traditional Recruitment Fails to Promote Diversity and Inclusion

Traditional recruitment fails to promote diversity and inclusion because there are obvious flaws in the processes used to hire people. From reading a name on a resumé to filtering candidates based on which school they went to, there are too many opportunities for inherent bias for or against certain individuals or groups of candidates. Traditional recruitment falls short when it comes to giving every applicant equal opportunity, regardless of their background and experience. And it's probably about time that changed.

What Do Diversity and Inclusion Mean for a Remote Workforce?

Hiring a remote workforce means you can hire candidates with more diverse backgrounds, since you can hire from virtually anywhere. Diversity and inclusion are even more important now than ever because we're in a time of crisis. But it's a bit different than it would be if everyone was operating in a traditional office setting. Since your teams are working remotely, you may have to take a slightly different approach.

You can't achieve an inclusive environment solely by doing things like identifying and addressing unconscious bias and the subsequent unintended consequences in your formal processes. That’s just step one. You have to take things a step further and train your managers, department heads, and other higher-ups to make inclusion a daily practice. Managing people more effectively in conjunction with making necessary adjustments to your formal processes can lead to a more inclusive and diverse workplace.

How to Promote and Sustain Diversity and Inclusion in a Remote Workplace

Promoting and sustaining diversity and inclusion in a remote workplace is crucial to creating a positive and progressive work environment for everyone. Take a look at a few ways you can overhaul your hiring and recruitment processes, as well as make your workplace more inclusive and diverse.

Invest in Your HR Function

One way to ensure you're promoting and sustaining diversity and inclusion within your remote workforce is by investing in your HR function. That means creating a fair and consistent hiring process that allows you to hire amazing candidates while reducing unconscious bias. 

Consider creating a virtual work environment that makes minorities feel safe by cultivating the right company culture and operations so that the people you hire end up staying. You might do that by making sure they're always able to come to HR with complaints and that they're taken seriously. You could also hire executive-level employees of various backgrounds to help reduce bias in the recruitment process.

Diversity and Inclusion Training

Investing in D&I training gives your entire workforce the skills and guidance it needs to be a productive part of the solution. Part of your diversity and inclusion training could be to encourage your team members to make commitments to being inclusive in the workplace every day (even if it's virtually). Have them write out commitment statements that describe the exact steps they'll take to be more inclusive and hold them accountable at annual review time.

The first thing you should do before creating your diversity and inclusion program is to conduct a needs assessment to establish your company's specific challenges and opportunities surrounding diversity and inclusion. Then, develop a diversity and inclusion strategy and customize it to suit your specific D&I goals for your remote workforce. Next, identify and train facilitators who feel comfortable teaching the program online. Now, you can launch your online D&I training program.

When developing a D&I program for your remote workforce, make sure you provide training for all employees, including executive-level employees. Also, it helps to use a variety of teaching methods, as everyone learns differently. Consider using interactive exercises, group discussions, lectures, online quizzes, and self-reflection exercises—anything that would work in a remote setting.

Vulnerability and Empathy

Allow employees to express their vulnerability and show them empathy when they do. Ensure managers know how to do so as well. Let them know it's okay to share their personal experiences by establishing direct communication with anyone who might feel like an "only." Try to draw them into discussions in a healthy, productive way when in remote meetings. And be willing to have open, honest conversations to acknowledge mistakes. Let them know you want to learn more about how you can help them attain success while they're at the company. You can do this virtually by offering chat rooms to all remote employees (group and individual) that allow them to get across whatever they might need to.

Encourage Different Perspectives

Managers and others in higher positions within a company should encourage different perspectives by asking about people's needs, acknowledging them, and then tailoring their actions accordingly. You won't be able to advocate for anyone without understanding what it is they're facing or what they need. Ask your team members to share any challenges, distractions, or unexpected needs they might have through remote workplace surveys. And then use that information to make changes for the better.

Team-Building Culture

A team-building culture is a great way to level the playing field, build commonality, and help ensure that everyone feels included and valued. One way to do that is to set up remote happy hour sessions for the sole purpose of familiarizing your team members with each other. You could also come up with fun games or exercises that encourage interactions between team members who don't know each other.

Keep Going, Keep Learning

Once you have the right policies, procedures, and company culture in place to cultivate a healthy and safe work environment for everyone, keep going. The work of diversity and inclusion is ongoing and doesn’t stop when the feedback session ends.

Traditional recruitment is the old way, and stepping into 2021 means it's time to use the above tips to transform your remote workforce into a more diverse and inclusive environment for everyone. Workplace D&I should be a priority for every remote business this year.