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Companies stand to benefit from more diverse pools of candidates by being able to hire anywhere in the world. Employers no longer need to rely on hiring people who can only afford to live in expensive urban areas, which excludes a significant slice of the population, often along socio-economic and racial lines. Supporting remote work allows employers to hire people who want or need to stay close to home. This can include those who have caretaking responsibilities, which can have an impact on diversity and inclusion, because women are still more likely to be caretakers than men. Hiring remotely also lets employers select people whose disabilities impinge on their ability to commute and/or work in an in-office setting.*
Still, we don’t yet have the data that proves increased diversity of teams is in fact happening at remote companies. Remote.com found that more women have CEO, founder, or President roles at remote companies: 28%, compared to 5.2% CEOs in S&P 500 companies and 6.4% in Fortune 500 companies. We don’t know of any data related to the diversity of remote teams, but hope that as remote work proliferates, more information will emerge.
contributeWe’d love to hear of any other studies with data on diversity at remote companies. If you know of any, please let us know!
cautionAccess to a wider range of candidates is definitely one of the pieces of the puzzle to increase diversity at your company, but it’s only a small one. Unless you adopt a broad set of hiring and retention practices aimed at improving your hiring processes and providing an inclusive workplace, you won’t reap the full benefits. We cover this in detail in an excerpt on improving diversity and inclusion in the hiring process from the Holloway Guide to Technical Recruiting and Hiring.
Corporate Emergency Recovery
The increasing rate of natural disasters around the world have forced many companies and local governments to consider remote work as part of their disaster and emergency plans. U.S. events like Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Harvey, or the 2018 California wildfires kept thousands of people from going into work, and disrupted business operations for a large number of companies. During a severe East Coast snow storm in 2010, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management originally estimated the shutdown would cost $100M per day in lost productivity. They later revised the number to $71M per day to reflect the fact that their teleworkers (remote workers) were still able to work.* Companies that already support remote work are at an advantage, as they don’t need a separate set of policies, technology, and equipment for when people suddenly have to work somewhere other than the office.
importantRemote work can help in localized, non-life-threatening situations. Of course, in the event of larger incidents that threaten people’s safety, companies will want to ensure that no one is put in danger in the name of business continuity. It also raises the reality that individuals may be impacted locally themselves when the rest of the company is not. While companies may not necessarily have full-blown disaster and emergency response plans and protocols for remote workers, it’s wise to ensure remote employees know what steps to take, including whom to contact at the company, when a disaster or emergency happens.