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Diversity and Inclusion

5 Ways to Champion Diversity and Inclusion in Remote Teams

  • 11/05/2020
  • Sarah Parks
  • 4 mins read

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) are crucial aspects of today’s workplace, but the sudden shift towards remote operations has, unfortunately, put these issues on the back burner.

Now that the UK government is recommending that businesses continue remote work for the foreseeable future, it’s high time that businesses revisit their operations to ensure that their remote workforce is properly taken care of.

To that end, below are a few practices to ensure diversity and inclusion remains a priority within remote teams.

Create an actionable roadmap

Businesses who say they champion diversity and inclusivity need to tailor their actions to suit. Provide a concrete plan that demonstrates how you aim to tackle diversity and inclusion amidst this new normal.

A crucial start point is admitting the work to be done to become a truly diverse and inclusive workplace. Over the summer of 2020, many businesses held their hands up and acknowledged they had not done enough to achieve diversity, and redeclared their plans on a public forum. This needs to happen so businesses can be made accountable. In every facet of an organisation, management should be creating D&I plans and roadmaps that will lead to the overall changes the business is aiming for including inclusive hiring practices and creating pathways into leadership that are accessible to all.

Digiday maintains that companies need to start by championing diversity during the recruitment process by making onboarding practices as inclusive as possible. The best way to do this is through gathering feedback from current employees, as they can help you see how these processes can be improved.

We discuss revisiting hiring processes to make them more inclusive in this article.

Don’t forget about freelancers

Depending on the nature of your work, your team might include a few freelancers. This setup is more common than you think, as it can be seen in various businesses from creative agencies to logistics companies.

While not full-time, freelancers are just as vital to your company in order to ensure your regular staff don’t get overwhelmed. This means you need to treat them with the same respect as your full-time workforce, something that doesn’t always happen.

A study on gig workers presented by Verizon Connect found that only 62% said that they had received the same level of care as permanent staff. To make matters worse, a measly 33% have been provided with adequate health and safety training.

With the gig economy continuously growing year by year, businesses need to honour the impact and diversity these workers bring to the table.

Celebrate important holidays

Celebrating cultural practices are part and parcel of diverse establishments, but it can be hard to do when you’re dealing with a remote team.

While granting holidays or days off is up to the management’s discretion, even something as simple as greeting your team members via messaging platforms (i.e. during religious holidays) shows that you are paying attention to the little details, and are making an effort to try and learn about cultures different from your own.

This will have a positive impact on company culture, and ensure that everyone feels seen and recognised at work regardless of religion, race, gender, and ability.

📖 Read our article on LGBTQ+ mentors in history to celebrate 📖

Prioritise mental health

Thankfully, this year has seen an increase in public discourse around mental health, particularly within work environments. Increased feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression as a result of Covid-19 made mental health a widespread issue for businesses to address.

Working remotely can take its toll on mental health in many different ways. And so organisations need to go beyond mere lip service and make sure that a thorough wellness action plan is put in place. This may include allowances for mental health leave, appointing mental health first aiders, community groups, flexible work arrangements, and even mentoring programs.

Read up on 10 ways to encourage your people to focus on self care with our guide

However, what’s even more important is that managers read up on the various forms that mental health illnesses can take, in order to avoid reducing these issues to mere stress. People are affected differently by mental health issues, and a truly inclusive workforce factors all of these differences into their solutions. The more these issues are openly discussed and encouraged, the more diverse solutions will evolve.

For more tips on supporting employee mental health while working from home, check out this blog.

Diversity and inclusion
Diversity and inclusion

Acknowledge there’s always room for improvement

Last but not least, it’s important to always keep in mind that championing diversity and inclusion is a long game. You can’t build a diverse workforce overnight, especially if it’s something that you haven’t looked into before.

In line with the first point, your action plan should leave plenty of room for goals to be met down the line—which could mean years from now. Being upfront with this knowledge also shows employees that diversity remains a top priority for your company rather than just a mere gimmick.

Businesses who want to thrive next year should start looking into their remote operations as early as now to see what else can be improved. Creating a diverse and inclusive remote work culture can make your current team a lot happier while also helping you attract top talent.

Guest Author: Sarah Parks
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