Disclaimer: This article is published in partnership with Siemens. Siemens is paying for my engagement, not for promotional purpose. Opinions are my own.
Having a diverse team working from a fancy office in Seattle, San
Francisco, London, or Munich might not equate to diversity throughout your organization if you ignore the rest of employees around the world.
Working remotely does not represent a new paradigm. In the early 1970s, many cases were created to support people to work from home, to reduce traffic and time commuting. Unfortunately, at the time there were no technologies to support such ideas. They only became possible after the democratization of the Internet, portable laptops and smartphones.
Even then, in my view, it has taken the previous decade to make remote work a reality for businesses around the world. The technology was available, but work culture and mindset resisted to the shift, which has now accelerated because of COVID19.
Over the last few years, we have observed a good number of problems caused by the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley and the start-up economy concerning design and developments around artificial intelligence. Such issues could have been mitigated if companies have opted in for admitting that they are developing products at the edge of computer science knowledge that requires a complete understanding of social sciences.
A robust workforce approach to diversity in terms of culture, disability, gender, education, social class, ethnicity and geography could help to avoid such errors.
It is not too late. Being more self-aware of the society and the interconnected world we live in should help us to reflect how to prevent silos and group thinking that are at the origin of these problems.
Collaborating with TalentCulture, a platform for HR practitioners from Meghan M. Biro and Cyndy Trivella, and creating #AXSChat Twitter chat with Neil Milliken and Debra Ruh, allowed me to take part and facilitate hundreds of conversations on the topic of technology, inclusion, HR, social good,
disability, inclusion, diversity, accessibility and talent. Engaging on twitter with people from different parts of the world is a wonderful learning experience.
From those conversations, it is noticeable that many people with disabilities have been working from home for years, considering that flexibility as a “reasonable accommodation”. Meanwhile, many of them have been claiming that the solutions needed by businesses to cope with this pandemic are the same solutions that many of them have been requesting for years, without being heard.
Let us take the opportunity that working remotely provides: opening the door of our organizations to diversity and inclusion. It is a unique opportunity. Never in the history of work have we had so many tools and resources available to make that happen.