Remote Work Is How Tech Companies Can Increase Diversity
Tech hubs are becoming less diverse as they get more expensive
Tech companies embraced the diversity train in a very public manner in 2014, when the release of the first diversity reports set off a wave of calls for change. Arguably, not much has changed in the last five years. The percentages of racial minorities in technical positions have hardly budged. Women see slightly higher increases, but they are still a significant minority. Minority groups face significant challenges around the diversity and inclusion mentality prevalent in the workplace. There is a long way to go before underrepresented employees no longer have to deal with ignorant comments and other challenges associated with being among the first in a homogeneous space.
But one point is missing in nearly every conversation on diversity: the importance of remote work.
Few large tech companies have clearly defined remote work policies. Smaller tech companies are jumping on the train. There are Github repositories listing companies with primarily remote teams and entire websites devoted to the benefits of remote work that include promising lists of companies. But the big tech companies that publicly committed themselves to diversity five years ago have mostly failed to seriously discuss remote work in the context of diversity.
Remote work is essential for any company serious about their diversity initiatives for at least three reasons: geographic diversity, office culture, and productivity needs.
To be fair, remote work is challenging for both employees and employers. It takes time and thought to set up. Establishing an office culture that encourages productive work from remote locations also takes serious thought, especially for companies that weren’t founded on the basis of remote work.
But remote work is essential for any company serious about their diversity initiatives for at least three reasons: geographic diversity, office culture, and productivity needs.