Teleworkers and the DEI impact of the Zoom ceiling

The virtual workplace might not get you anywhere, but sadly neither will the discrimination many remote workers face.

According to Upwork, there will be approximately 36 million remote workers in the United States over the next three years, and women and minorities in particular are at risk of falling into the “zoom cap,” a term for potential barriers to the career that remote work is. to create.

“The Zoom ceiling is akin to the glass ceiling in that it prevents people from reaching higher levels of leadership,” says Dr. Elora Voyles, industrial organization psychologist and human resources scientist at the company. of Tinypulse workforce management software. “And women and minorities are more likely to choose remote jobs, which creates more invisible barriers in their career progression.”

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According to Tinypulse, male HR managers view returning to the office 12.5% ​​more favorably than female HR managers, a value that has more than doubled in a few months, from 5.9%. The Future Forum found that 87% of Asian employees and 81% of black employees wanted a hybrid job, compared to 75% of white employees.

Although women struggled with the move to estrangement, it was beneficial for some who were able to balance caregiving responsibilities and work. And minorities have also benefited from the remoteness of the physical workplace, says Dr Voyles.

“Minorities choose remote work because it is a way to avoid the micro-attacks to which they might normally be subjected in the workplace,” explains Dr Voyles. “In person it’s a little easier for someone to comment out of color than in a Zoom setting.”

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While Future Forum noted that black workers were 26% more likely to feel treated fairly compared to the 2020 results, virtual harassment can take place regardless. But while remote working can put a certain distance from potential ignorance, it can also mask professional achievements, says Dr Voyles.

“Managers don’t have a complete view of the impact of remote workers in terms of performance and contributions,” she says. “There aren’t a lot of opportunities for casual conversation or even mentoring. Managers may mistakenly believe that remote workers are not as dedicated. “

Dr Voyles suggests recognizing the inequality between in-person and remote workers by putting in place clear policies regarding communication and performance expectations. This means frequent one-on-one meetings with managers, consistent feedback, and checks across teams.

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This also extends to equality within these meetings: Hybrid teams should all enter meetings from their computers, whether in the office or not, to avoid sidebar conversations and less engagement. virtual. In addition, employers will need to revise their performance appraisal methods to assess remote workers equally.

More importantly, leaders must articulate policies that increase flexibility for all workers, to prevent unfair assumptions from being perpetuated, says Dr Voyles.

“A lot of people who work in person may think remote workers are less engaged or don’t do things with the family,” she says. “It is important to allow everyone this flexibility so that there is not this negative connotation with remote working. “

Remote work is here to stay, and to foster equality it may be to change the way management and employees view work. Flexibility should be seen as the norm and not as a weakness for those who check in from home.

“The Zoom cap is something that a lot of people relate to, and it’s very real,” says Dr. Voyles. “It is going to have an impact on career opportunities if human resources and business leaders are not proactive in ensuring that these opportunities are equal and fair.”

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