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Gleb Tsipursky


How to Attract and Retain a Diverse Workforce in Today’s Hybrid Work Space

These successful practices will help address DEI issues for remote employees

Published: Wednesday, September 13, 2023 - 11:03

Have you wondered how to foster remote and hybrid diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace? Many companies have consulted with me about developing and implementing their strategies for returning to the office and establishing permanent work arrangements. During my interviews with dozens of midlevel and senior leaders, I found that the issue of diversity and inclusion came up time and time again. So what can you do to address DEI effectively in our brave new world? 

Challenges to achieving remote and hybrid diversity 

Michael, the CEO of a midsize B2B tech service provider, was struggling with DEI issues even before the pandemic. He wanted to make his company more attractive to minority groups.

The company hired a diverse pool of workers at the rank-and-file level, but had trouble retaining them. Thus, the higher up in the organization you looked, the less diversity you saw.

The company tried to address these issues previously, with moderate success. However, the pandemic completely derailed these efforts. As Michael’s company figured out its footing after the pandemic, it could now turn its attention back to the previous DEI priorities.

Of course, their needs changed, as did everything during the pandemic. Thus, Michael brought me on as an expert in the intersection of hybrid and remote work with DEI to help address their challenges.

Minority concerns regarding hybrid and remote work

Do you think minority groups, such as African Americans, want more or less time in the office compared to white people?

Here’s the answer. Future Forum, a firm specializing in employee engagement, produced a report on remote work and found 38% of Black men and 33% of Black women would prefer a fully “flexible schedule,” compared with 26% of white men and 25% of white women.

What explains this disparity? Well, unfortunately, Black professionals are still subject to discrimination and microaggressions in the office. They are less vulnerable to such issues when they work remotely much or all of the time.

In addition, Black professionals must expend more effort to fit into the dominant cultural modality in the workplace, which is determined by traditional white culture. They have to do what is called code-switching: adjusting their style of speech, appearance, and behavior. That code-switching takes energy that could be better spent doing productive work.

Similar findings apply to other underprivileged groups. That includes not only ethnic and racial minorities or people with disabilities, but also women. For example, research by BabyCenter shows that 29% percent of new mothers would choose remote work options over a $10,000 increase in annual pay. No wonder that only 65.6% of mothers with children under 6 participate in the workforce, compared to 93.9% of fathers with similarly aged children.

Practices to promote remote and hybrid diversity and inclusion

Addressing communication issues

Research shows minorities deal with bullying on video calls and harassment via chat and email, as well as in other online settings. Another problem: Surveys demonstrate that men frequently interrupt or ignore women in virtual meetings, even more so than at in-person ones.

So when bullying and interruptions happen during virtual meetings, take the time to address why it’s happening. You can say something like, “Please let them complete their point before asking questions. Raise your hand so we can come back to your suggestion afterward.”

Setting up a hybrid mentoring program

To help increase equality within your team, create a formal hybrid and remote mentoring program. This setup is especially important for women and other underrepresented minority groups in the higher ranks of organizations.

Research shows that one of the primary reasons such groups fail to advance stems from the lack of informal mentoring and sponsorship. Given the increased challenges for mentoring hybrid and remote employees, your mentoring program must benefit minority groups. Doing so means ensuring accountability by requiring reports from mentors and mentees on their progress.

Virtual training

Another great tool is training that focuses on dissuading discrimination during virtual meetings, chats, and emails. This will help your team build skills in avoiding such problems, and especially help minorities feel supported as you build a more collaborative atmosphere.

By acknowledging these problems, you can create policies to address these occurrences and regularly check in with your team as you build a collaborative atmosphere.

Conducting internal surveys

Creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive office culture requires recognizing these problems and taking action to remedy them. An easy way to start advocating is to conduct internal surveys to determine those issues.

The best surveys will ask your minority staff about their experiences with the problems outlined above and other diversity-related challenges. Also, ask them what they believe might be the most effective ways of solving these problems. Integrate the best solutions they propose into your plans to address the situation.

You have probably heard the famous phrase, “What gets measured gets managed.” Once you know the nature and extent of the problems, you can work to change them systematically, rather than only in one-off, ad hoc situations. Measure the problem, create a plan to fix it, and then measure how well you’re improving it.

Implementing a diverse and inclusive culture in the workplace

I advised Michael to follow these best practices to create a workplace that works for everyone.

The firm conducted an internal poll to evaluate the hurdles to diversity and inclusion. It found that many minority employees felt they didn’t have a voice at work due to interruptions and microaggressions during meetings. It also found that the lack of diversity among higher-level leaders discouraged minorities from trying to advance and made it hard for them to approach leaders for sponsorship.

Michael’s company implemented policies to address these issues. That included training in effective remote and hybrid communication and collaboration, with a focus on addressing the concerns of minorities. It also included setting up a hybrid and remote mentoring program to help minority groups. He also started several employee resource groups focused on providing support for employees from underrepresented backgrounds. Finally, the company held monthly “diversity talks” focused on diversity and inclusion to ensure that people from all backgrounds feel valued and heard.

Six months after instituting these changes, Michael had great news to share: The company has seen significant improvements in employee satisfaction ratings from minority employees. The number of minority employees who felt their manager is fair and respectful increased from 63% to 87%, the number who felt included in decisions at work went from 48% to 79%, and those who felt respected by co-workers and believe their ideas are valued by management grew from 54% to 82%.


The lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion is a serious problem for any forward-looking company. To maintain a competitive edge, companies need the best people available to work in a diverse, inclusive environment. With the emerging trend of hybrid and remote work arrangements, people from underprivileged groups can overcome many of the barriers they face in a traditional workplace that have prevented them from being successful in their careers. To create an inclusive diversity strategy, leaders must address communication and sponsorship issues within their organization by setting up mentoring programs and virtual training.


About The Author

Gleb Tsipursky’s picture

Gleb Tsipursky

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky helps quality professionals make the wisest decisions on the future of work as the CEO of the boutique future-of-work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts. A proud Ukrainian American, he is the best-selling author of seven books, including Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters and Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage. His cutting-edge thought leadership has been featured in more than 650 articles in prominent publications such as Harvard Business Review, Fortune, and USA Today. His expertise comes from more than 20 years of consulting for Fortune 500 companies from Aflac to Xerox and more than 15 years in academia as a cognitive scientist at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Ohio State. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, Twitter@gleb_tsipursky, Instagram@dr_gleb_tsipurskyLinkedIn, and register for his Wise Decision Maker Course