The Need for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Training in the Hybrid Workplace

Diversity and inclusion

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Over the past two years, many organizations made the successful transition to working in a virtual environment. However, as the dust settles on the “new normal,” challenges have arisen when ensuring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the hybrid workplace. One notable example includes recent research from Brigham Young University, which surfaced last year, suggesting that nearly 45% of US women business leaders found it difficult to speak up in virtual meetings, while 25% felt entirely ignored. The question of how to address gender disparity and hybrid workplace DE&I is becoming a top concern for HR and L&D professionals, who need to better understand the influence of technology on the workplace dynamic. If we’re going to move forward with intentionality towards balancing virtual and equitable hybrid workplaces, it’s going to be essential that we tackle DE&I in new and innovative ways.

Traditional biases are likely to seep into the virtual workplace, and companies need to be proactive in delivering training to managers and leaders alike. Much like how L&D has taken on the challenge of developing impactful training around Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, they now need to examine the effect that working remotely can have. L&D needs to develop a strategy that targets training around the best practices for managers and leaders in fostering effective communication and collaboration among diverse, multicultural, and at the same time, virtual teams.

The Rise of the Remote Worker

We’ve previously written about the shifting sensibilities among today’s workforce in favor of remote work. When organizations open the door to remotely located employees, these could include those located across the country and throughout the world. Hybrid companies are now embracing new workers that represent a variety of countries, languages, cultural backgrounds and diverse histories. While the ethos of many companies is to drive towards a “one team” mentality, it’s increasingly complicated to foster an environment of inclusion and unity when workers are not only physically distanced from each other, but may also be philosophically divided as well. Your DE&I program needs to focus on the shifting demographics of your remote workforce and develop a strategy through investigation and empathy to better understand the unique needs of your global learners.

Addressing Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias can wreak havoc on relationships in the workplace, both in-person and virtual. The rise of home-based workers has brought to the foreground situations that involve work-life balance. The pandemic impacted groups differently, with varying degrees of hardship. Existing gender pay gaps, and economic disparities appeared to widen due to the need to work remotely. For example, single-parent households were forced to carry added burdens that put pressure on the work-life balance. The majority of caregivers are women, adding to the disproportionate economic gender gap.

Some leaders may have found it easier to simply ignore the needs of workers facing work-life challenges. As such, opportunities for career advancement began to shift towards employees who fit the traditional model of “work first.” Whether unconscious or not, biases against certain demographics of home-based employees are going to drive quality talent underground—yet another factor behind the Great Resignation trend.

If organizations are going to maintain a hybrid workplace and continue to attract top talent, they’re going to need to do better in building an inclusive work environment. Otherwise, they’re likely going to miss out on the benefits of having quality talent, innovative thinking, diverse perspectives and insight from the leaders of the future. 

Training Leaders to Lead Remote Teams 

It can be an unconscious assumption that employees who are closest physically are more deserving of career opportunities. Leaders need to ensure that they are fairly distributing rewards, accolades and opportunities across their entire hybrid workforce.

To support remote teams, leaders need to be aware of these challenges and work with employees to develop a balance that suits both needs. But this may not be “business as usual,” by any means. The organization will be required to take a step back and examine how this new normal is impacting its overall culture, then develop a change plan that aligns with the needs of the hybrid employee.

Leaders need to demonstrate trust and learn the critical skills required for managing remote teams. They may need to be reskilled to better understand the impact of cultural differences on the team dynamic. 

Creating a People-first Learning Strategy

Clearly, some people are faced with the challenge of balancing the needs of their home lives, as primary caregivers to children or seniors, with the demands of their jobs. This may require them to work at odd hours or to be unavailable during the traditional work day. L&D needs to develop strategies to ensure that all workers have equal access to critical learning opportunities. This includes:

  • Career progression planning
  • Mentoring (as both mentor and mentee)
  • Coaching
  • Upskilling and reskilling

The challenge for L&D is to provide these programs effectively and efficiently. There are many options available to bring bespoke or custom content solutions to your learners, delivered in both synchronous and asynchronous learning modalities such as eLearning, video, virtual classrooms, and even leveraging innovative learning technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality. The same is true when seeking Diversity, Equity and Inclusion learning programs. Many of these programs can simply be dropped onto your existing curriculum to get your team started quickly.

As you evolve your learning strategy to support the hybrid workplace, consider working with a creative learning agency to support your learning and business strategies. Contact us to learn more about our custom DE&I content solutions as well as our off-the-shelf products to help you deliver equal access to learning and career opportunities for your remote team.

About CoreAxis

CoreAxis is a business performance consulting company that offers training solutions to businesses in a variety of industries, such as financial, life sciences, retail and technology. Each of these solutions can be fully customized to meet the needs of the individual client. We build collaborative relationships, becoming a trusted resource and ensuring our clients’ organizational success.

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