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Building a Diverse & Inclusive Distributed Workforce

Companies across all industries have been disrupted in some way due to COVID-19. Talent and recruiting teams have had to navigate the challenges of remote hiring, HR teams have had to work through unique nuances of remote onboarding, and whether your company is hiring or not, this time made way for other strategic projects that otherwise might have been put on the back burner. One of the strategic considerations companies may have been able to make is to take stock of their workforce and workplace for its diversity and inclusion and the work that still needs to be done.

In our webinar, “Building a Diverse Distributed Workforce,” panelists Rebecca Clements, CPO at Moz, Felicia Jadczak, Co-CEO/Co-Founder of she + geeks out, and Irene Edan, Head of People at Hired, discussed how companies can be thinking about their recruitment, compensation, and retention strategies to cultivate a diverse workforce and inclusive workplace and ways to keep this top of mind while going remote.

Diversity in recruitment

In regards to recruiting diverse talent, Jadczak encourages employers to first consider what they mean by “diversity” and what their goals are. Oftentimes we may hear “diversity recruiting” or “recruiting for diverse talent,” which is a broad term that refers to seeking a variety in candidate backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, and approaches than what currently exists within a company. More often than not this speaks to the desire for more talent from underrepresented groups to challenge the status quo of generally white men in the tech industry. To start, companies should ask employees to self-report how they identify in order to have a benchmark of their organization’s demographic breakdown and diversity metrics. Then, HR and recruiting teams can partner together to set goals for sourcing, interviewing, and hiring URM (underrepresented minority) over a certain time period.

Outside of setting recruiting goals, eliminating bias and unnecessary barriers to entry throughout the recruiting process can help to ensure your process is not excluding or preventing qualified talent from entering your funnel. In today’s remote world for example, there are various remote work circumstances that candidates and employees alike are dealing with. Stay mindful of the circumstances that candidates may have, including children in the home, roommates or family members in their shared workspace or perhaps a different home setting in their video call background than you might expect. As a prospective employer, remind your interviewers to not judge someone’s candidacy by those things but rather focus on whether their skills and experience align with the role’s requirements. Similarly, Edan points out that more than 30 million people have become unemployed due to COVID-19, most without jobs to return to. Questions around an employment gap or how the time was used in the face of a global pandemic, increased personal demands quarantine may have presented, and related trauma creates an unnecessary barrier to entry for highly qualified individuals who faced a challenging situation beyond their control.

Equitable total compensation

Addressing pay equity can begin at the hiring phase. Jadczak mentions that acknowledging the role’s pay range and the candidate’s compensation expectations at the beginning of the process helps to ensure both parties are on the same page and are accepting of the compensation range. Toward late stages, companies should be aware of processes that may perpetuate pay inequities and gaps. Jadczak advises She + geeks out clients to share what would constitute a candidate receiving the lower-end, mid-range, or higher-end of the compensation range provided at the beginning of the process. That way there are clear differentiations that a candidate can reference upon being assessed in the interview process.

Beyond this, Edan shared how negotiations may be a step in the interview process that perpetuate the pay gap that exists today. In our 2020 Wage Inequality Report, we discuss how, upon analyzing years of compensation data, an expectation gap, or the difference between what distinct demographic groups expect to be paid when applying for the same role, exists, which inevitably feeds into widening the salary wage gap. Our data shows that these two gaps widen in tandem year over year and when candidates expect less, they tend to receive less. Negotiations are successful for, and may ultimately reward, candidates who are better at negotiating than others. We found that women find negotiating salary significantly more stressful than men. In fact, 72% of women consider negotiating a higher salary stressful, compared to 63% of men. For women, negotiating a higher salary is more stressful than getting a root canal, planning a wedding, or public speaking.

Clements echoes the same sentiment of transparency for Moz as they set up processes to ensure equal pay for equal work. When it comes to performance reviews and salary increase cycles twice a year, Moz conducts internal reviews to analyze performance ratings, distribution of those ratings, position within grade, number of promotions. In addition, the underrepresented groups Moz evaluates is based on gender, race, and age. This allows their team to address any discrepancies and disparities, and address those issues right away. Likewise, off-cycle adjustments may take place if and when they see salary compressions. Doing a semi-annual review like this can help companies stay close to the data and minimize any pay inequities that exist within the company.

At the end of the day, it is best to align with your team and decide on an approach that clearly sets candidate expectations, leads with transparency about how your company got the salary numbers, and where they were assessed. This sets the foundation early so that as employees they have an understanding of how they are being compensated and the assurance that you’re constantly reviewing these numbers to ensure it remains equitable.

Employee retention

The conversation of hiring and retention go hand in hand as you want to ensure that beyond attracting diverse talent, you create a culture that is inclusive and provides equitable opportunities for career growth. Both our panelists mentioned three key strategies companies can leverage to retain top talent and create an inclusive workplace culture. First, Jadczak suggests that investing in people through education is a great way to help people managers and their teams navigate being remote and build their confidence. Clements shares how leaders should get feedback from their team on what they need, how leadership can best support them, and even how the company might be doing with DE&I currently so they can see where their opportunities of improvement are. This way, when employers think through education courses or training programs, they can see what would be truly valuable to their team. Similarly, through feedback and subsequent programs, it can foster a richness and authenticity in the workplace more than before. Clements cites that upon getting feedback from their employees, Moz set up Mozzer Lunch and Learns where employees can sign up to present on a topic of their choice–it could be personal, a passion project, or work related. Mozzers were able to learn more about their colleagues on a deeper level while being distributed than before.

Lastly, look to affinity or employee resource groups (ERGs) to see what support they need in order to further their contributions, especially in a virtual world, or if your company doesn’t have any, look into creating them. Clements mentioned that Moz CEO, Sarah Bird, is an advocate for DE&I internally and externally citing that closing the opportunity gap is not only the right thing to do but is also good for business. Research shows that ERGs and other DE&I programs positively impact business results, outcomes, customer relationships, attracting new and better customers, etc. Internally, creating a space where employees can bring their whole self to work leads to better decision making, different perspectives, and a more inclusive work culture.

Overall, as companies prioritize building diverse and inclusive remote teams, our panelists reminded employers to approach it with a growth mindset. Using words like “we have work to do” or “things to learn” in regards to DE&I, pay equity, or making the workplace more inclusive, it is important to ask what more can we be doing toward making initiatives better. There may always be more work to do until we achieve true equity in the workplace but by having the willingness to learn and commitment to do so, companies can position themselves to create material change and progress in their organizations.