Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in a post-COVID Workplace

The year 2020 may be considered a revolutionary moment in our history, one which will have long lasting effects on organizations when hiring. Because of COVID-19, working remotely has become the norm for many businesses, leading employers to realize they can deepen their available talent pool by searching for new hires in markets that include not only more candidates but more qualified and diverse candidates.

The risk of new markets and increasing diversity

The key questions and challenges around diversity in a post-COVID workplace are many. And without careful thought and planning, employers with good intentions may create problems they didn’t expect.  

You may face a division where your in-office staff becomes less diverse, not only from shifts in hiring in remote markets, but also in which employees, particularly Millennial and Gen X women, continue to work predominately from home. How will you promote an equitable and inclusive culture when your diverse population is not seen in-person?  

Consider the impact of women leaving the workforce due to pandemic-related school or childcare closures or increased caretaking stress. In 2020, around three million women dropped out of the workforce in the United States, pushing women’s participation in the labor force to a 33-year low. How has this impacted diversity, and how can employers draw women back into the workforce?  

While there is opportunity to hire a more diverse workforce by including remote markets, a risk to hiring a remote team that skews to a minority demographic can arise if you’ve also chosen to benchmark salary to the local market. If the benchmark is, say, 30 percent less than your commutable market, the result may inadvertently create the perception that you are discriminating against a particular group by paying them less.  

What COVID has taught us is that not only can organizations survive by working remotely, they can also thrive with large portions of their workforce outside of the office. They can deepen the available talent pool by seeking diverse applicants in markets that include not only more candidates but more qualified candidates. A wide expansion of your organization’s talent pool will bring in more candidates with skills and experience and potentially a lower salary expense based on the cost-of-living differences between major metro markets and the markets where businesses find talent.  

A post-COVID workplace will allow organizations to straddle between two strategies, by considering diverse candidates that will be 100 percent remote, ultra-qualified, and possibly less expensive than their in-office peers.

How business leaders can foster diversity and inclusion across remote teams

reating an inclusive workplace, wherever it physically exists, begins with a commitment to listen to your employees. You can gather their thoughts and opinions through an employee survey, a focus group, and interviewing your leadership. The results of the information gathered may not be what you expect. And that’s okay. You can continue growing and moving forward embracing diversity and inclusion.  

A diverse and inclusive workplace is one that makes everyone, regardless of who they are or what they do for the organization, feel equally involved in and supported in all areas of the workplace.  

Bringing in an outside expert allows your organization to address sensitive topics while still encouraging your employees to be their authentic selves. Learn how OperationsInc can provide you with the training and support you need.