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Remote Work: Setting Up For A Culture Of Geographical Diversity & Inclusivity

"Being intentional about sourcing talent from small towns or far-flung areas requires rethinking the talent attraction strategy. Tech & tools make it possible to access talent with the right skills from multiple locations and geographies," says Yashmi Pujara, CHRO, Cactus Communications

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The world we're living in is facing wars, a pandemic, economic slowdown and climate change all at once. Businesses have the burden of evolving faster than ever, staying lean and attracting the best talent to stay competitive. Leaders need to anticipate market transitions, adapt business strategy, and align with people strategy to accelerate growth. Remote organisations have an edge in this equation. By dissolving the geographical barrier to hiring, remote organisations have access to talent anywhere in the world. However, having diverse people in the organisation is not enough; the real work lies in setting them up for success with inclusivity at its core. This thoughtful reimagining of a talent model can lead to a culture of innovation and growth.

While the remote model is inherently diverse, being intentional about attracting diverse talent makes the difference.

Remote working models enable undiscovered talent to enter the workforce, individuals who can't live in big cities or commute physically. This talent includes, but is not limited to, women with overbearing familial responsibilities or restrictions, differently-abled individuals, senior citizens who want to contribute, individuals in remote parts of the country, neurodivergent people or individuals from lower economic strata. Many are unable to show up every day at an office or feel the need to change, as they can't fit in. However, taking the job opportunities to them helps remote organisations to gain access to all these professionals who are willing to put in the hard work and contribute from where they are most productive.

We're now seeing that the skill mix of top talent is spread across multiple locations, instead of just concentrating in big cities. Being intentional about sourcing talent from small towns or far-flung areas requires rethinking the talent attraction strategy. Technology and tools make it possible to access talent with the right skills from multiple locations and geographies. AI tools in recruitment can sift through data to identify hubs for hiring. Data patterns indicates that that talent coming from these regions have a better offer acceptance ratio as they appreciate the opportunity to stay rooted and contribute. Once the workforce balance has shifted from metros, constantly engaging this group to build a strong referral programme is essential to maintain geographical diversity in hiring. 

Reimagining the blueprint of the organisation for diversity contributes to organisational effectiveness.

The key force in driving change and competitive differentiation is how we leverage our diverse talent in a remote setup. Diversity needs to go beyond representation; it needs to allow different identity groups to reimagine tasks, products, business processes, and organisational norms. This approach is called the "learning-effectiveness paradigm," (source David A. Thomas and Robin J. Ely) where diverse groups of people draw from their knowledge and experiences to challenge assumptions and practices in the organisation. It takes leadership commitment to make space for learning and evolving. Data shows that when diverse teams are sensitised to certain identity-related knowledge, they innovate faster. This is what enables companies to increase their effectiveness. To put this into practice, we need to open forums where everyone can share their opinions, and each opinion is heard. It's what makes diverse talent bring their whole selves to work.

Using tech and data to support diverse talent helps make everyone feel included.

As the saying goes, diversity is having a seat at the table, and inclusion is having a voice. Remote organisations often operate across time zones, benefiting from diverse and rich perspectives to build solutions catering to global or transnational audiences. Employees of such organisations benefit from exposure to multicultural teams/individuals, opening up opportunities for faster career growth within and beyond the organisations they work with. Remote organisations use technology as their operations infrastructure, making their workforce digitally far more adept than others. This digital advantage gives both the organization and its workforce an edge over their competition.

It's a lot easier to assemble cross-functional or multi-talented individuals into project teams for faster execution in a remote environment than it would be in an office environment because the organisation does not have a concept of cliques forming from physical proximity.

Remote work enables all employees to have equal visibility and chances to contribute, cutting out a lot of the office politics that can develop in an office environment that may feed off coveting proximity to leaders. Leaders too can use asynchronous and synchronous means of communication, like virtual all-hands meetings and hackathons, to unify their employees under a common purpose, regardless of their location and spot talent that can shape the future of their organisation. With tools and programmes that focus specifically on employee wellness, we can address most diverse needs, allowing for talent from all walks of life to thrive.

In remote organisations, a trifecta of diverse talent, tech, and data is necessary to make everyone feel their authentic selves, operate at their highest potential, and create growth for the business.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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