Though the pandemic is a thing of the past for many people, its impact is still being felt in many areas of our lives. In the workplace, the pandemic seems to have created a permanent shift towards remote working. A large number of companies, Grio included, have kept remote and flexible work hours, citing numerous benefits for both employees and employers.
However, remote work provides its own set of challenges, and it is important that employers take proactive steps to continue supporting their employees. In this blog post, I’ll examine how workplace practices for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) must evolve to remain at the forefront of remote workplaces, and the steps employers can take to successfully implement a virtual DEIA plan.
What is DEI(A)?
DEIA, sometimes referred to as DEI, is a set of practices that are implemented to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. In the workforce, DEIA’s purpose is to ensure that those from different backgrounds are represented and able to thrive.Read more: DEI(A) in Remote Workspaces
While the principles of DEIA are frequently used simultaneously, they are actually four distinct ideas that work concurrently:
- Diversity: Diversity refers to a wide range of groups within a community. For example, diversity may be considered in terms of ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.
- Equity: Equity is the fair and just treatment of groups of people, regardless of how they identify or where they fall within any of the diversity categories mentioned above.
- Inclusion: Inclusion is the active engagement of all of the members of a community. It is about making all people feel welcome and included.
- Accessibility: Accessibility is the quality of being able to be used by everyone. Ideally, accessibility in the workplace isn’t just focused on physical accessibility, but also digital and cognitive accessibility as well.
Why is DEIA Important?
When DEIA is implemented in the workplace, it promotes numerous benefits, both for the employees and the employer.
Diversity Draws Top Talent
Diversity is important to both job seekers and employers. A recent study found that 70% of job seekers consider diversity as a factor when evaluating an employer. That number was found to be even higher among Gen Z job seekers. As a result, employers who focus on diversity are able to attract top talent from various backgrounds.
Studies show that the inclusion of remote and hybrid work options can increase diversity. According to a 2022 study by Future Forum, many minority groups, including women and people of color, prefer remote and hybrid work options. The option for remote or flexible work schedules also increases accessibility and inclusion for neurodiversity and people with physical disabilities.
Diverse Workplaces are More Productive
When you promote diversity and DEIA within your workforce, you are also creating a well-oiled machine. Research shows that organizations with diverse teams are 33% more likely to outperform their competitors. This is because not only are diverse workforces able to draw top talent, but they are also able to create an environment with a wider range of ideas and experience.
Inclusivity Creates a Sense of Belonging
Diverse workplaces can further increase productivity with a focus on inclusivity. Employees that feel like they belong are more productive and more likely to stay at the company, thereby decreasing the time and money you spend on employee turnover and training. Employees that feel included are also more likely to participate in company discussions, which creates a more collaborative and inspired environment.
DEIA Creates a Positive Workplace Culture
Studies have shown that employees in inclusive environments are three times happier at work and two times more likely to have a positive work-life balance. When companies have clear, multi-faceted DEIA standards and objectives, it creates a positive workplace culture for all employees.
A combination of DEIA-centered workplace culture and hybrid work opportunities can further increase inclusivity. For employees who identify as a different gender, race, ethnicity, or religion than the majority of their coworkers, the office workspace can be challenging. Obstacles like microaggressions and code-switching can sap their energy and decrease productivity. A remote work environment decreases the mental burden placed on minority employees, instead allowing them to more confidently and efficiently contribute to workplace success.
How to Implement DEIA in Remote Workspaces
As the number of remote workers continues to increase, DEIA becomes even more important. However, it also becomes more challenging to implement.
With today’s technology, workplaces have the potential to promote collaboration and encourage employee participation like never before. However, in remote work environments, it’s easy for things to get dropped when communication lags. It is therefore important for employers to establish intentional communication strategies that prioritize collaboration.
At Grio, we begin many projects with an MVP Blueprint workshop that allows everyone on the team to contribute equally to the initial project brainstorm. This proactive collaboration strategy ensures that everyone has a chance to allow their voice to be heard.
Focus on Remote Team Building
Building team camaraderie is especially difficult in remote work environments because your team is never face-to-face. It is therefore important to facilitate team building activities, such as:
- Virtual meet-ups to introduce new team members
- Exercises or games that encourage team member interactions
- Virtual social events that allow team members to interact on a more personal level
- Provide a virtual platform outside of specific project channels where employees can interact
At Grio, we utilize our main Slack channel to share personal and professional updates, and we host a weekly lunch where employees present tech talks, participate in games, share updates, and spend time interacting with one another.
Find Opportunities to Promote Cross-Functional Training and Group Learning
Office settings naturally promote cross-functional training and group learning by virtue of proximity. However, with remote workers, it’s important to artificially create similar opportunities. Finding ways to encourage learning, such as mentoring programs, one-on-one check-ins, or virtual training events, is important for a company’s long-term success.
At Grio, our weekly tech talks and blog posts allow individual employees to share their knowledge base with coworkers and clients.
Reinforce the Importance of DEIA
When it comes to DEIA, it’s important for employers to be proactive and vocal about their DEIA expectations and goals. Finding ways to incorporate DEIA culture into both office and virtual settings will also inspire employees to follow suit.
DEIA doesn’t just occur at the company level; individual employees should also be setting their own DEIA goals. Individual goals should be achievable and should align with the company’s stance on DEIA.
DEIA is not only beneficial to individuals but to the company as a whole. Studies have shown that companies that make DEIA important do better than those that don’t. Employees are happier and feel safe which leads to a more productive and successful environment.