Remote working is set to be the new office norm.
The benefits of work-life balance, accessibility and affordability have not gone unnoticed. But as more of our working lives are spent interacting virtually, it is inevitable that the camaraderie of human interactions will decline.
We must not let the strides we have made to equalising the workplace go to waste. Instead, let us embrace the opportunities remote working offers to further the inclusion agenda for everyone.
For many of us, financial services exist to help people lead better lives. Whether that is by helping people buy homes, offering financial planning tools or helping money flow to small businesses, financial services – at their core – are for people.
At PensionBee, our desire for inclusion for all is very much linked to our vision to live in a world where everyone can look forward to a happy retirement. The compounding power of investing tends to systemically disadvantage historically under-represented groups, including women and people of colour.
In addition to the purpose of the financial services industry, we as employers have a duty to create the type of workplace where everyone can thrive. The financial sector is enormous and diverse.
All ethnicities are well represented within its makeup: between 14.6 per cent and 20.9 per cent of each of the ten government-recorded ethnicities (Asian, Asian Other, Indian, Pakistani / Bangladeshi, Black, Mixed, White, White Other, White British and Other) work in “Banking and Finance”.
But a lack of support, understanding, informal structures and official policies can breed fear, shame and silence. As a result, many colleagues will hide their real selves in the workplace, ultimately impacting their advancement and the productivity of the company. A lose-lose situation.
The journey to create an inclusive working environment for all will be personal to each company and will depend on their own leadership. Change can be uncomfortable, but the best place to start is by assessing the current situation.
Virtual working has led to a rise of online workplace surveys to take the temperature of the workforce. It has never been easier to ask employees what they think and what the company can change to improve inclusion.
There is room for improvement in absolutely all organisations, not least because it is critical that a shared understanding of who we are as individuals helps us to connect and become more productive.
At the same time, it is important to speak about race and other forms of identification. Back in early June, as the Black Lives Matter movement expanded across the globe, few organisations were prepared for the impact it would have on their teams.
We quickly learned that the journey to inclusion starts through dialogue. At PensionBee we have been running employee-led monthly remote sessions including ‘Colonialism and Homophobia in Jamaica’ and ‘Contemporary Experiences of British Asians’.