How Remote Work Strengthens Diversity and Inclusion
Remote work is good for diversity and inclusion — allowing flexibility for parents (moms especially), caregivers, people with disabilities, international workers and more to participate in the working world without making inequitable sacrifices. This piece will talk about how remote work promotes DE&I by granting flexibility and accommodations to those that otherwise could be excluded from strictly on-site opportunities.
Published on August 31, 2022
Remote work, diversity, and inclusionRemote work is here to stay post-pandemic, and that’s great news for everyone. You probably already know about the big benefits of remote work, like more flexibility, increased productivity, and higher employee satisfaction. Another benefit that might not be immediately obvious, though, is the way that remote work helps strengthen workplace diversity and inclusion.The flexibility of remote work enables job seekers of diverse backgrounds to participate in the working world without making inequitable sacrifices. Remote work creates new opportunities for employers to hire candidates who might otherwise be excluded from strictly in-office work, like international workers, working parents, caregivers, and people with disabilities. Support remote work to help foster diversity and inclusion at your company while improving the lives of your workers from underrepresented groups.
Employees from underprivileged groups prefer remote workIn a job seekers’ market, employers need to prove that they care about their employees’ preferences. And in many cases, research shows that those preferences are strongly in favor of remote work — even more so among marginalized workers. This preference for remote work means that distributed companies are able to hire more diverse workforces than ever before. In a 2021 McKinsey study, employees from underprivileged backgrounds were more likely than their more privileged counterparts to say that they’d leave a company if it didn’t offer at least hybrid work. That includes:
- 14% more Black employees than white employees
- 24% more LGBQ+ employees than heterosexual employees
- 10% more female employees than male employees
- 14% more employees with disabilities than employees without disabilities
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According to Meta, “US candidates who accepted remote job offers were substantially more likely to be Black, Hispanic, Native American, Alaskan Native, Pacific Islander, veterans and/or people with disabilities. Globally, candidates who accepted remote job offers were more likely to be women.”Consider this anecdote from a recent CNBC article: Some LGBTQ+ individuals specifically choose to live in cities that have welcoming, established queer communities. Relocation to a new city that might not be as safe for LGBTQ+ people could be inequitably difficult for these employees. Remote work allows these individuals to accept a job without needing to choose between their supportive community and a great opportunity in a different city.Future Forum’s Remote Employee Experience Index found that 97% of Black knowledge workers who are currently working remotely want to stay remote or hybrid. Compare that to just 79% of their white counterparts. In addition, Black professionals were more likely to say that they felt their sense of belonging was better while working remotely than working in the office.A few possible reasons for this: Remote Black workers don’t have to code-switch as often and can avoid many of the microaggressions that can be commonplace in an office environment. One Black corporate employee says that remote work has helped improve his mental health because he no longer has to shoulder the mental burden of navigating casual racism in the office.
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Remote work helps working parents and caregivers stay in the workforceIt’s already a full-time job to raise a child or care for a sick or aging family member. Your workers should always have the space to put that job first. Remote work allows you to support your team members who have these kinds of family obligations. It also helps narrow the gender gap by supporting working mothers or any other caregivers. Flexible work schedules and asynchronous communication enable remote workers to work on their own time instead of the company’s schedule. This gives working parents and caregivers the freedom to prioritize their loved ones while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Additionally, flexibility in working hours is the key to greater productivity, according to 43% of digital workers surveyed by Gartner. Research shows that there’s a gender gap between working mothers and working fathers. According to a 2020 survey of working parents in the US, working mothers spend more time on childcare than either working or unemployed fathers do. This leaves working mothers with less time in their days for work and personal time than their male counterparts, which can lead to stress and burnout. It’s often due to these demands — and a lack of access to childcare — that working women have been dropping out of the workforce. Women with childcare responsibilities are 32% less likely to quit a remote or hybrid job than those with a strictly in-office job. The flexibility of remote work helps these women juggle the demands on their time more efficiently than if they were required to commute to an office.A survey of working parents showed 62% who work remotely say they would quit their current job if they weren’t able to stay remote. Just because someone has a child or family member who requires caregiving doesn’t mean that they should be excluded from the workforce. Remote work helps you retain these talented workers, ensuring that they can continue taking care of their families while also showing up for their jobs. That trust you extend to working parents and caregivers pays off: RingCentral found that caretakers who work remotely feel happier and more productive than non-caretakers.
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Remote work increases job accessibility for disabled workersIn the US, people with disabilities are much less likely to be employed than those without disabilities. Remote work helps bridge this gap by providing employment opportunities to workers with disabilities who wouldn’t be able to work in-office jobs. For some disabled workers, remote work removes a massive barrier to employment opportunities: the daily commute. Workers who use wheelchairs and other accessibility devices have to navigate more obstacles when commuting to and from the office, like crowded public transportation and lack of wheelchair ramps. Remote work removes these obstacles, allowing employees with disabilities to work from the comfort and safety of their homes. Access to remote work also helps immunocompromised individuals protect themselves from COVID-19 more effectively. It’s also a great way to accommodate employees who need extra support in dealing with mental health issues like anxiety and depression. It can also provide accommodations for disabled workers to make their lives easier. For example, remote work offers flexible working hours, which grants disabled workers the freedom to take ample breaks. You can also accommodate workers with visual or hearing impairments via accessibility tools like screen readers and live captions.Many distributed companies also offer a remote office stipend, which could help workers with disabilities set up their workspace and purchase equipment and software to accommodate their needs.
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Remote work allows you to hire internationallyThe best person for your job might not live in the same state, or even the same country as you. Remote work allows you to expand your talent search to cover the entire globe, accessing a much wider candidate pool. Hiring international employees and contractors increases the diversity of your workforce, creating a more globally representative team. For a long time, the barrier to hiring internationally was physical. Companies required their team to work from the same office and didn’t want to deal with lengthy immigration processes or pay for relocation. Remote work tears down that barrier to entry. Since you’re not restricted by borders, you can hire qualified candidates living in previously inaccessible regions. This can include candidates who may otherwise face economic barriers to relocating themselves and their families to be closer to your company’s office. Relocation can be especially burdensome if housing near your headquarters is scarce and expensive.For many international workers, relocation isn’t even an option. As Manara’s CEO Iliana Montauk shared with us, cultural norms and family obligations preclude many international candidates, particularly women, from overseas relocation. “Women often are expected to stay in their countries and support their families, or just be closer-knit to their families,” Montauk said. Of the software engineers surveyed by Terminal globally, 67% said they’d like to work for a US tech company. However, 39% said they have no interest in moving to the US to do so, versus only 18% who said they would love to relocate. For these engineers, a remote work environment allows them to snag opportunities to work for a US-based company without uprooting their lives.
Hire and pay your remote workforce equitably with PilotAs the Chief Product Officer of Abstract says, remote work is inclusion work. Remote work is not only a smart business move but also an important DEI initiative for your workplace. Pilot supports remote companies in hiring and paying their employees and contractors all over the world. Hire anywhere
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