Culture is Key in a Remote Environment

Culture is Key in a Remote Environment

Fostering Diversity Equity & Inclusion in the Virtual Workplace

Although this year may look a little different, even a pandemic cannot change the fact that June is Pride month. The unprecedented move by organizations to transition to a virtual workplace means implementing new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) policies and procedures to keep business moving forward. In the rush, many companies have abandoned their DE&I practices and yet, now more than ever, diversity and inclusion efforts matter most. Inclusion practices are critical with virtual employees who rely on staying connected and engaged. These practices not only benefit underrepresented groups, they benefit a company’s entire workforce. DE&I strategies help virtual and remote companies create fair, equitable, inclusive workplaces even if their teams work in different countries or different time zones. Inclusive workplace practices create a much more welcoming, productive, and fair work environment. DE&I efforts make sure all team members feel like they’re on a level playing field, despite their different backgrounds, education, work locations, job titles, etc. Companies have to set the tone for DE&I success with the right strategies. Ann Albrecht Consulting would like to share these DE&I workplace practices specifically geared for virtual companies that don’t have the opportunity to interact with their employees in person.

#1. Make Inclusive Practices the Norm in Your Virtual Workplace

Your first step in creating an inclusive virtual workplace is to make sure these values are clearly expressed by your company. Similar to having a remote work policy, your company should outline a policy about what it means to be a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. Be sure to have a written statement outlining your company’s views on DE&I and how your company plans to implement them. This is an impactful way to show that everyone is welcome and accepted at your company. Post this policy everywhere for potential and current employees (and customers!) to see. Think about including it on your website, in your job postings, and more. Merely stating this isn’t enough. You must also act on these values. Make sure there’s diversity within your team — and at every level. Your new hires should come from a well-rounded mix of candidates. Consider highlighting your team by posting photos on your website’s “Team” or “About Us” page. It will only take a few seconds for your website visitors to see that your company supports a DE&I culture.

#2. Give Everyone a Way to Voice Their Opinion

Another effective tool for creating an inclusive virtual workplace is to encourage your team members to voice their opinions, even if they disagree with something.

Everyone should feel comfortable speaking up. Make it clear in your meetings that you value everyone’s thoughts and viewpoints. Give everyone a chance to speak their mind, and make sure you and your team members genuinely listen and hear what everyone has to say.

#3. Spread Around Well-Deserved Recognition

Give your team members recognition and praise, and they’ll know that you value the unique skills and abilities each employee brings to the virtual table. However, make sure you provide recognition thoughtfully and fairly. For example, If you’re only praising team members who generate the most revenue,, while excluding those who make up your company’s backbone, you’re going to create a divide. Always keep in mind, all of your employees are valuable in different yet equally-important ways. So it’s smart to rotate your recognition and accolades to ensure everyone feels appreciated and included, no matter what their role is in your company. Even the smallest shout out can go a long way!

#4. Create a Safe Space for Non-Work Chat

Does your company use SLACK, Google Chat, Flock or any other chat app? These apps are a great way for your team members to chat with each other about work and get to know each other on a more personal level. Depending on the size of your remote workplace, you could have separate chat channels for topics, such as LGBTQ support, women in leadership, working parents, diversity in the workplace. These channels are a great way to help foster personal connections and reduce the loneliness and isolation of the virtual workplace. Remember, creating these channels is just the first step. Make sure you keep them active and engaging to maximize their effectiveness.

#5. Get Involved in a Mix of Good Causes

One of the best ways to create an inclusive workplace when you’re working virtually is to get your entire team involved in causes and non-profit organizations that matter to them. To do this, hold a virtual meeting to discuss and generate a list of causes that all of your employees support. Then you can rotate which causes you help each month or each quarter. You can have your team drive awareness to these causes, start fundraising, volunteering — whatever your team is best at! Just think of the global impact your company could have!

#6 Provide Mental Health Support

Now more than ever, given the unknowns in our world that change on a daily basis, it’s important to remember that some employees may be struggling. Additionally, for some employees, the isolation of being a virtual worker can be a trigger for mental health issues. CEO’s and managers should routinely check in with their team, showing care and concern not just about the work, but about how your employees are generally doing. If you discover an employee in need of help, there are many mental health resources that are appropriate for virtual workers, especially virtual counseling, that you can recommend. Working during these unprecedented times creates challenges not seen before. Employing some foundational practices in empathy and human connection can help foster inclusion during a time in which employees and our companies need it most.

Try These Inclusive Workplace Practices Today

These workplace practices for virtual and remote companies will help you foster more diversity, equality, and inclusivity within your team. Some of these strategies are as simple as updating your website; others may involve more work but no matter how big or small the gesture, it’s essential to take the time to work on your DE&I efforts sooner rather than later. Inclusive workplaces create motivated and happy employees who value being a part of your company — and every company needs more team members like that. If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, live loud and live proud this month. As an employer, recommit to making your workplace an inclusive place, and wish the LGBTQ+ folks who work for your company a Happy Pride. JUNE IS PRIDE MONTH: LET’S CELEBRATE