Being the agile environment that it is, the IT industry seems to have fared better than most with a shift to remote working. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges. One of these is creating an inclusive workplace while your team is socially distanced.
If you’d like to ensure your employees all have a level playing field when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, here are three ways.
1. Start At The Top And Secure Buy-In
How does your leadership team score on the inclusivity scale? This is the ideal place to begin when building an equitable workforce (remotely and in-person).
There are many ways to uncover this information but unfortunately, unconscious bias can get in the way. To negate that, consider turning to some tech solutions.
The first might be using AI-driven assessments to understand how your leaders fare when it comes their views about inclusivity.
The next could be utilising VR technology to allow them to actually feel what it’s like to be someone of a different gender, race or ability level. This is particularly powerful in securing their buy in about the importance of a diverse workforce. It can be taken a step further by using it as a safe space to practise learned inclusive behaviours.
Another area might be using software solutions to gently remind the user to practise inclusive behaviour at key times, for example during recruitment or at performance review and bonus time. These solutions embed inclusive learning tutorials and tips into social platforms aligned directly to the employee’s daily workflow.
2. Create And Implement A Company Inclusion Policy
If you haven’t already, draft your company diversity, equity and inclusion policy. To be inclusive in this process, invite employee input. Do it anonymously online if you feel that will garner more honest responses.
Ask employees what they would like to see embodied in this policy. Consider also using this as an opportunity to uncover what you can do to be more inclusive, especially while working remotely.
You might like to add on questions about how employees view inclusion at work, as well ask if they have all they need at home to be able to get their job done, physically and emotionally. For example, do you need to now juggle caregiving for a sick relative or parental responsibilities while trying to work from home?
Use the feedback you get to not only inform your policy, but adjust your remote work practices too.
Once your policy is ready, ensure it’s prominently posted online for all employees, as well as publicly on your website for potential hires.
3. Think Of Unique Ways To Embody Your Inclusive Values
There’s no point instituting an inclusive policy without actions to support it. There are many ways you can embed these values into your remote workforce, and here are three ideas:
Engage Employees Through Charitable Works
Hold a virtual team meeting to explain the company is keen to donate funds to a different charity or cause each quarter, focusing on those that champion diversity, equity and inclusion.
Ask employees to submit ones that are most important to them. You can then donate or provide pro-bono services as a company, or encourage employees to start a virtual fundraiser.
Up The Ante For Online Socialising Opportunities
When working in an office, there’s ample chances to catch up for a coffee or chat over lunch, and slowly uncover the person behind your colleague. Virtually, the opportunities are limited.
As an employer, think about some novel ways to connect that suit your team’s socialising style. A virtual coffee catch up or happy hour at the end of the day, or perhaps a weekly team breakfast or trivia event at lunchtime.
Create Virtual Spaces For Employees To Share
In real life, you gradually get to know colleagues and understand a little of what makes them unique. But during remote working this can be difficult, even more so if you’ve welcomed a new member during lockdowns.
Establishing non-work related online interest groups is one way to address this. Depending on the makeup of your remote team, you could consider adding specific groups, such as one for women in leadership, LGBTQI+ support, working parents and so on.
These will enable employees to connect in a time when they most need it, help them learn more about each other, as well as offer support. For example, those juggling parent life and work life might appreciate tips others have to offer.
Those are just three ways to foster inclusivity in your workforce while working remotely. If you’d like some further assistance in nurturing this important aspect of your business, or help in formulating an inclusion policy, please let us know.