Building Diversity and Inclusion Into Your Remote Office
Diversity. Inclusion. These are not simply buzzwords to make a company look good and appear progressive. Research shows that diverse teams outperform those who continue to lag in this regard, both financially and in terms of attracting the most talented candidates.
Now, more than ever, it is essential for businesses to progress towards an inclusive, more diverse workforce actively and to build this ethos into each aspect of the business, from the recruitment process to the fabric of the company culture itself. And as the world continues to move toward a more virtual office environment, the opportunity to build diverse teams has never been greater.
But how do you build a diverse team? And how can this be translated to a remote working environment?
Here we will attempt to answer these questions.
Building a Diverse Team
Quite simply, it starts from the top.
For a business to successfully develop a more diverse team, those who run the company must embrace the ethos and translate it into crucial performative actions and ensure that diversity and inclusion are intrinsic throughout the leadership teams. There are several such actions and strategies that a company could consider.
1. Leadership Development Opportunities
A company needs to ensure that all levels of the hiring process, from entry-level junior positions to leadership roles, are robust when facilitating a diverse workforce. A commitment should be made to ensure that candidates from all different backgrounds are given fair consideration. There should also be a strategy to provide leadership development opportunities for internal candidates with potential leadership skills who prove themselves within the company.
2. Consider All Forms of Diversity
The first forms of diversity that an individual might immediately leap to would perhaps be race, gender, and religion. It is essential that these are all taken into account during the hiring process as well as during day-to-day conduct.
However, there are many forms of diversity that are often overlooked simply because they aren’t necessarily obvious. Diversity of thought and experience are both likely to be present within your workforce.
This can lead to issues with workplace harmony if left unchecked. Age differences can sometimes be tricky to navigate if there is no clear common ground on which to build rapport. Regular team-building exercises and sessions can offer a solution to negate these issues.
3. Avoid Uniformity
While the recruiting strategy should strive to give everyone equal opportunity to succeed, the individual members of your developing diverse team may have particular needs to be catered for. Some members may need extra guidance due to a possible language barrier or, in the case of older team members, the learning of new technologies. Some team members may need to break at certain times for religious rituals.
Tailor-made team building to account for varied backgrounds is often the best play here.
4. Embrace Cultural Differences
A genuinely diverse team will bring together a range of different backgrounds, rituals, and ways of thinking. When absorbed successfully into the company culture, these differences can result in a truly harmonious workforce.
Already established celebrations, such as religious holidays and pride events, can be used as excellent starting points to celebrate cultural differences and instigate conversation for deeper understanding. A company can also use diversity awareness training to discuss diversity matters in a more structured way.
Diversity Strategies for Your Remote Team
While the above tips can (and should) be applied to all diverse teams within your business, remote work and the virtual office environment can provide their own hurdles that need to be negotiated. Different time zones, technological issues, and communication styles can all dampen the efficiency of your remote team. Fortunately, there are some simple tips and strategies to overcome these issues.
1. Secure Your Tech
Without the possibility of face-to-face communication, video conferencing platforms and instant messaging apps are essential. Ensure that all team members are fully able to handle these platforms.
If your workforce is global, take into account the different time zones and plan team meetings accordingly, and ensure any team meeting is recorded for any team members who may not be able to make a given time. This will ensure that all of your team members remain on the same page.
2. Be Generous With Your Communication
With no physical presence to act as a guide, some remote team members may fall foul of isolation and a lack of focus if communication is not regular and purposeful.
It is vital that individual differences are always considered when it comes to communication. Are there some team members that would benefit from more written communication? A team member who suffers from some form of hearing impairment, for example, might struggle with conference calls if the cameras aren’t up to scratch for lip-reading. Language barriers might also need to be taken into consideration.
Ensure that time is consistently set aside for 1-to-1 catch-ups to check your team members remain motivated and productive.
3. Build Your Team Rapport
With isolation a constant threat for remote team members, ensuring that time is assigned to your virtual team building is essential, especially if your diverse team comes from several different backgrounds.
Try to schedule sessions for more casual conversations that everyone can access live. Allow for ice-breaker games to put everyone in a comfortable space, and encourage your team members to talk about their backgrounds. These sessions are vital for new team members to develop a sense of belonging in the company.
4. Share Company Values
Even though your diverse teams may have a number of cultural nuances, it is important that each team member is aware of the shared company values to ensure that a harmonious work environment is established. This should still be fundamental even if you are working with a remote team.
During group meetings and 1-to-1 interactions, take the opportunity to gauge opinions on these company values. Gather feedback on whether your team members feel these values reflect a customized diversity vision and consider alterations if necessary.
Why a Diverse Team Matters
While the very nature of most businesses is to generate profit and growth, ensuring that they are working towards sustainability, diversity, and inclusion, are key indicators that can make a big difference to the prospective customer. In today’s ever-expanding and global economy, some of the key benefits of having a diverse team are as follows:
- Strong diversity can lead to strong profits – more and more customers are now committed to spending their money on companies that can demonstrate these fundamental values. If a customer can see efforts are being made to embrace the vision of substantial diversity and inclusion, they are more likely to part with their hard-earned money. There is also the added benefit of workers from different backgrounds understanding the needs of customers like them, which could lead to stronger customer retention in the long term.
- Higher staff retention – team members are more likely to stay and grow within a business if they feel valued. This is particularly important if they are from a minority group, with 3 in 4 workers preferring to work for a company that values inclusion and diversity. If a company can demonstrate its commitment to creating diverse teams and inclusion, it will be more likely to retain the employee and their expertise.
- A broader range of ideas and perspectives – team members from underrepresented groups will naturally have different life experiences. They may have different viewpoints and sympathies. Fostering this range of thought and team diversity will ultimately lead to a more well-rounded team in terms of inclusion and acceptance and a far deeper well of ideas to benefit the business.
- A wider talent pool – with Millennials now being the most diverse generation, while also being the future of the workforce, it is essential that these young folk are made to feel welcome as they embark on their careers. A company committed to an inclusive workplace is far more likely to attract the top talent from each of these diverse backgrounds, which will bring the additional benefits mentioned above.
How Making Teams Can Help
Here at Making Teams, we recognize the importance of diverse teams in the workplace, be they office-based or remote. Over the past fifteen years, we have committed to delivering first-class, innovative, and tailor-made virtual team-building events. We are confident that our team of experts will have just the right package for you and your team’s needs.
Get in touch today, and let us find your perfect team-building event!