How Remote Work HAs Supported DEI Initiatives

Posted By: Stephanie Beeman Blog ,

Over the last year, Black employees have stood out when it comes to an increase in job satisfaction scores, and researchers believe that moves toward remote work have been a contributing factor.

According to a report referenced in the Triad Business Journal, this is how the response of Black workers to three key survey questions has changed:

An agreement with the statement, "I value the relationship I have with my coworkers" increased from 48% of Black respondents to 76%

An agreement with, "I am treated fairly at work," increased from 47% to 73%, and

An agreement with, "management is supportive," increased from 43% to 75%.

By contrast, white and Asian workers saw these scores stay largely the same, or just a slight increase.

This increase in job satisfaction comes at a time when many companies have made a committment to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion - and some companies have identified embracing remote work as a strategy to diversify their talent pool. 

Brian Lowry, social psychologist and professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University's School of Business explains:  “A big part of the experience of race at work is your sense of comfort or belonging. If you work in an environment where you’re in the minority, the office might be less comfortable.” He goes on to say that working at home prevents a feeling of constantly being on the outside and removes "everyday tension" in the workplace.

Sheela Subramanian, a vice president of the Future Forum at Slack, adds, “It’s that everyday tension. Coming into the office every day, having to change your appearance or the way you talk or the way you behave or fit in. It removes the day-to-day code switching,” Subramanian said. “At this point, we are all a tile on this Zoom screen, and it represents some form of equalizing people a lot more.”

To read the complete article in the Triad Business Journal, click HERE.

One might argue that a reduction in everyday tension simply from physical absence from the workplace does not sound like true diversity, equity, and inclusion are being accomplished yet in these situations. Companies must acknowledge that there is still work to do in the realm of DEI. However, experts in this article do suggest that actively supporting flexible work, and learning to effectively and fairly manage a remote work force, are objectives that leadership should continue to pursue for the future. 

"Flexibility is second only to compensation,” Subramanian “It's undeniable that's what people want.”