Is Racism Rampant in Your Remote Workplace?

Photo by Karol D from Pexels

On Monday afternoon I walked through a field of daisies in the sunshine. It was stupidly idyllic. And surreal. A cool breeze drifted through the long grass and played with the leaves on the maple trees. My son ran ahead of me, demonstrating how fast he was in the black sneakers he inherited from his sister.

I’ve spent hours trying to think about what to say in this week’s blog. The murder and violence taking place in my former home horrifies me. It doesn’t surprise me, you understand. I’m a Mexican-American woman, and my family history contains stories of discrimination and aggression. I don’t want to act as if everything’s fine because it isn’t. But I also have no interest in inflicting my feelings on people who are already traumatized.

So I’ve decided to link to some articles to read if you’re interested in building diverse remote companies. Then I’m going to focus on light things that happened in the Douglas household this past week. Feel free to jump to the section that fits your current mental state.

Remote Work isn’t a Magic Wand for Diversity

Many people (including me) write about how remote work can create a more diverse workforce. But just because your company is office optional doesn’t mean it’s diverse. Or welcoming. Victor Ray’s HBR article Why so many organizations stay white can just as easily be applied to remote-first companies. Nicole Young discusses her experience with Remote Year in the Zora piece Remote Year is not safe for women of color.

Danielle Abril’s Fortune article Remote work may exacerbate diversity and inclusion problems for companies lists some reasons remote doesn’t necessarily equal diverse. One example: “distance reinforces people’s tendency to favor people who are similar to them.” Remote work runs on trust. Ask yourself, have I (or has my company) demonstrated trust in people that belong to marginalized groups? How many people of color report to you? Who gets promoted? Who gets laid off first?

Who’s Getting the Goodies?

Trust is hard to measure directly. You can’t take a ruler or a scale to figure out how big it is. But you can measure who gets the goodies during the good times and who gets cut in a downturn. And you can measure the average tenure for people of color in your company. As Jermaine Haughton points out in 4 Signs that racism may be an issue in your workplace, some workplaces explicitly or implicitly hold POC to higher standards than their white counterparts.

Incidentally, you’ll notice that the first author I’ve quoted appears to be white. I looked for an article by a BIPOC author on the whiteness of corporations and came up short. That doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Just that my search results didn’t prioritize them. If you know of a similar article written by a BIPOC, please send it my way.

The remote work community also needs a survey/study on the percentage of remote workers that are people of color, broken down by managers vs employees. According to, “By 2030, people of color will comprise the majority contributions to the labor force and are projected to account for virtually all of the growth.” How much of that will carry over into remote work? And of that number, what percentage of the population will progress into management and leadership?

Let’s make remote work live up to its diverse and inclusive potential.

Light Stories about the Douglas Household

Last week I read an article in the New York Times about community cookbooks making a comeback. What a great idea. Food is primal, and sharing food is often how we connect with others. We talked about the concept in the neighborhood Facebook group I moderate, and now we’re going to make our own cookbook. I’ll be editing it and we’ll probably publish it as an ebook.

I’m going with the theme ‘feeling better.’ We can’t be with each other in person, but we can share food by exchanging recipes. There will be stories and poems to go with the recipes, and hopefully pictures too.

I have no idea how I’m going to fit this into my life, but I can’t wait to do it anyway.

The Kids are Back in School

Monday, when I was walking through the field of daisies, I told my son “Don’t be a smart butt.” He isn’t old enough to know what I’m really saying, but he thinks it’s funny just the same. He laughed and declared at the top of his voice “My butt is of average intelligence!”

We ignored the people who gave us funny looks.

I’m writing this blog late on Wednesday night. My daughter went to school for the first two days of the week, and the boy will go to school Thursday and Friday. We tried dying the kids’ hair (temporarily) indigo for the occasion, but I either have weak dye or did it wrong, because the color didn’t show up on the one lock of hair my daughter wanted done. My son’s hair just looks sort of eggplant purple if you squint at it. We called the result ‘punk rock raspberry’ and called it a night.

Speaking of which, I am going to knock off for the night too. See you all next week!

Author: Teresa

I am an analyst for Kaplan and a business writer. When I'm not analyzing numbers or trying to find the perfect phrase, I manage my obsessions for chai tea, knitting, and running in the woods.