Does Your Organization’s Technology Support Your DEI Efforts?
By Dave Shull
Strange as it may seem, the workplace of five years ago had more in common with the workplace of a hundred years ago than it does with the workplace of today. For starters, formerly, almost everyone was at the office.
And while the workplace concept has rapidly and permanently changed, the drivers of this change might not be as obvious as they seem.
True, the pandemic sparked many of the seismic shifts that took place at most workplaces. Before 2020, just 34% of employees worked from home; by the end of that year, the rate was 87%, according to the Metrigy Research Workplace Collaboration Management and Endpoints 2021-22 study. More employees than ever are now working remotely by design. In 2021, only 6% of contact-center employees were required to work at the office.
These shifts are only accelerating with time. But it’s no longer the pandemic driving this change. It’s the workforce itself.
This is the era of employee empowerment. As people increasingly demand—or seek and find—the work experience they deserve, your organization must ensure that two critical aspects of this experience are working together.
One is technology. Not every organization felt prepared to suddenly pivot to a remote-work model for continuity, but many have adapted by embracing this model’s operational and cost advantages and adopting new information technology (IT) standards to support it. High-quality audio and video tools can enable real-time remote connectivity and collaboration that are as seamless as any in-person experience.
A forward-thinking organization may have once viewed its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives as supportive of its mission. But today, a thoughtful approach isn’t enough; leading and growing depends on putting DEI at the core of the corporate mission.
Most leading organizations may see both IT and DEI as vital to their success. But not all are seeing the symbiosis between DEI and IT—the insight that empowering employees through representation depends on technology, and that empowering employees with the right technology depends on representation.
An organization’s DEI and its technology converge as work equity: the principle that everyone in the workforce deserves a seat at the table and the assurance of feeling seen, heard, and understood with total clarity. More than an ideal, work equity is an imperative to thrive, succeed, and retain talent in an era when employees have many choices about where and how to work.
Taking a one-size-fits-most approach no longer applies, because not all enterprise technology supports equity, and not all workers have a static work environment.
The remote-work model so prevalent today often throws the contrast between excellent and inferior work technology into sharp relief. Every employee is an individual, and every individual works with distinct variables. Consider:
- An employee accustomed to using professional-grade cameras typically found in conference rooms for webinars or important customer meetings now depends on a lower-resolution camera used from home.
- An employee sensitive to exposing their home to their coworkers may stay off camera or on mute during a meeting, diminishing their presence and voice.
- An employee lacking reliable, high-quality audio and video technology may experience additional stress, confusion, inefficiency, and miscommunication.
- An executive employee who previously relied on on-site tech assistance may require additional professional-grade gear and support to take video meetings from home or on the road.
Each situation calls for improving work equity, both by leading operations with empathy for a variety of attitudes, scenarios, and lifestyles, and by offering communication technology that enables meeting equality. In short, it requires an organization’s expertise in both its IT and its people.
Freedom of Choice
In this moment of flux, the workforce holds the power. More opportunities are available, and more people are looking out for them.
As organizations compete for talent, equipping the workforce with equitable tools has never been a more significant differentiator. An organization that provides high-quality technology that supports work continuity regardless of location can hire better people —and retain a happier, more productive workforce—than competitors who fall short on work equity.
In selecting IT to optimize work equity, many leading organizations team up with external partners with a deep well of workplace research, data, and expertise that can help illuminate the range of values and pain points of their workforce, and the ways IT can support its equitable representation, visibility, and inclusivity for everyone—no matter where or how they work.
Learn how Poly can help your organization match employee work styles and technology to support and advance its DEI principles.
Dave Shull serves as Poly’s president and CEO and a member of the Board of Directors.