Our Reseach on Global Workforce of the Future

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Welcome the Chief Diversity Officer, At Last

Download our Global Workforce of the Future report here.Sometimes it takes a global pandemic to sort out a problem. Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs) around the planet might agree. The diversity officer's raison d'être is to advance the core values of diversity and inclusion in their company. Seen for some years by cynics as little more than a box-ticking exercise, the often under-supported and misunderstood CDO now has a folder full of inspiring stats, thanks to the world-changing events of the past three years. Back in 2019, the career ladder was uneven, unstable and, for some, pretty much unscalable. Here in 2022, there's been at least some progress in making its rungs easier to grasp, allowing companies to reap the well-documented benefits of a more diverse workforce.

No workplace like home?

What all the seminars, workshops and equal opportunities pledges were struggling to achieve may just have been turbocharged with the combination of a traumatic pandemic and tech. Pre-pandemic, Silicon companies like Facebook were renowned for their tasty workplace extras - offering everything from award-winning chefs in the staff restaurant, games rooms and gyms to tree-house break-out zones and meditation pods. Today, there may be no need to skateboard over to the brainstorm room. Meta’s 2022 Diversity Report states that around 75% of its teams are now working across multiple locations.“For the first time,” says Meta, “we’re hiring individuals who are fully remote and working from locations where we don’t have offices.” As a result, Meta has found its hiring pool suddenly much, much larger. With unprecedented access to talent around the globe, it’s been much better able to accelerate its diversity quota. It has doubled its hire rate on two key targets - Black and Hispanic employees in the US, and women around the globe. People with disabilities now make up 6.2% of the workforce, up from 4.7% in 2021. Along with 2.3% veterans and 10% LGBTQ+ identifiers, these figures seem to back up Meta’s statement that underrepresented people now make up 46.7% of its staff.

Remote works

Remote hiring has to be a key factor in this. Our research shows that workers are confident remote work is here to stay: 57% say that they are sure they will work for companies around the world, on a report basis. That same research found that 54% of workers say they will have more power and options to choose where they will work in the future. But don’t take our word for it: Research by Future Forum in 2021 found that Black employees strongly prefer a remote or hybrid model of working. A staggering 97% of them, in fact. In the US only 3% wished to return to full-time in-person work, compared to 21% of white workers. In 2021 the UK government called for a national shift in favour of remote, hybrid and flexible working, after its Behavioural Insights Team found there was a 30% uptake of job applications for any role offering these options. Its then Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss, called for employers to make flexible working a standard option to help level up the UK, boost opportunities for women and reduce geographic inequality. Invisible restrictions, such as the need to live close to the office in a city where the cost of renting is too high, or a gruelling daily commute, evaporate when remote working is an option. Parents with childcare commitments, home-based carers and people with disabilities are now on a much more level playing field. Age is less of a barrier. A tangibly youthful vibe in the office might once have disheartened a fifty-something job candidate, but virtual meetings help to showcase substance above appearance. So-called “silver workers” are a valuable resource both on their own merits and as a smart solution to talent scarcity.
The numbers are compelling, too.

16% of companies in the world (as at 2022) are now fully remote.

3-10% is the average rise in productivity

19% higher innovation revenues

A promise, not a panacea

Savings at the employee end can be significant, another big factor in boosting diversity. Rail commuters can hang on to a hefty chunk of their salary when they no longer need to squeeze into rush hour carriages five days a week. Also, the cost of dressing for work shrinks to, well, the top half. In fact, estimated savings for remote workers in the US are around $7,000. Of course, for some - 16-24-year-olds in particular - escape is to the office, not from it. We have to remember that remote working is not a panacea. The three biggest challenges are unplugging after work (22%), loneliness (19%), and communication / collaboration (17%). But going by the statistics and the global conversation, remote and hybrid working is part of a new employment landscape, where equality and inclusivity sit on the horizon. It’s a CDO’s dream. While many obstacles remain between where we are today and a truly equitable workplace, the huge changes of the last two years should help give CDOs the tools and support they need to move us further towards that goal.