The last decades of the past century showed us how important it is to stand up against racial discrimination and support universal human rights. Although major improvements attempting to close the race wage gap have been made in various countries in the world, starting with the US, the ultimate goal of total abolishment of racial inequalities is far from being over.
A recent survey conducted by Gallup Center on Black Voices revealed a disturbing truth: it was found out that in 2020 almost a quarter of Black employees and workers reported to experience one form of discrimination or another as a part of their work experience. Along with migrant workers and employees of Latin American descent, both Black men and women express to be subjected to discrimination at the workplace to varying degrees.
The Gallup poll further documented that the race wage gap is still a relevant issue among Black people at work. Similarly, other studies focused on work experiences in the pandemic also showed that, during the pandemic, in the absence of a face to office culture, Black employees and freelancers reported having more positive work experiences. Additionally, it was also observed that after the initial shock of the COVID-19 and the reopening of the workplaces that followed, Black employees were less willing to return to their offices compared to their non-Black counterparts.
Why do Black professionals favor remote work?
By taking recent studies and surveys into account, it is possible to claim that a significant portion of Black employees prefer remote or hybrid work to more conventional forms of working.
But what exactly are the pros of remote work for Black freelancers, Black entrepreneurs and young Black professionals? Surely, remote working has to come along with some obvious advantages that make Black employees, business owners and Black entrepreneurs want to pursue it further even after social distancing measures due to COVID-19 no longer apply.
Here are some reasons why Black professionals find remote work collaboration more satisfying:
- Having a better access to a wider range of career opportunities
- Less stress caused by microaggressions
- The opportunity to save money and time
- Improved mental health
- Better circumstances for entrepreneurship
Accessing more career opportunities
In terms of inclusivity and diversity as well as career opportunities, working remotely seems to have opened a door of novel chances to Black workers. According to Matt Sunbulli, the CEO of Fishbowl, here is why:
“It comes down to things like simple location dynamics: there's more career opportunities now available for Black professionals in locations that perhaps companies haven't traditionally or strategically hired from.” [...] “[They also now have] the ability to just really focus on the work and not on the politics and the social discomfort that they deal with day-to-day.”
It seems like for most of the Black independent professionals, remote work options allowed them to expand beyond location-based economic and social inequalities. Who knows? Perhaps in the long run working from home can allow for more social mobility and hence better access to opportunities for all.
Less microaggressions, less stress
Another point that people had been arguing for in defense of remote work was the decrease of certain aggressions and microaggressions which take place in the physical office environment.
It is true that facing racial stereotypes, talking about past traumatizing events, hearing unpleasant comments and having to constantly discuss politics and racial issues create a certain amount of friction at the workplace.
While remote solo work or freelancing doesn’t guarantee to settle all sorts of frictions and aggressions, it is undeniable that working from a distance decreases the level of exposure to such stressors.
Can save money and time
Remote work is a time-saver and equally a money-saver for everyone regardless of color and ethnicity. It is known that specifically in the US and to some extent in other countries, residential segregation between Black and non-Black communities is a profound issue, and hence it can be especially relevant for Black employees and entrepreneurs..
This usually translates as Black professionals having to live further from their workplaces compared to their non-Black colleagues. Remote working is more appealing to Black workers for having a positive impact on their transportation costs. Similarly, working from home can cut down childcare costs. This is particularly relevant for Black women as a considerable majority of them are the primary breadwinners of their families.
Better mental health
Surely, working under stress is one of the integral parts of professional life. But being Black in the workplace comes with unique challenges and resulting stress. Location-independent, flexible work models allow Black employees the freedom to choose the environment they work from, where they can safely express themselves without the constant presence of a gaze with implicit racial biases.
Additionally, it is often argued that flexible working schedules have the potential for the betterment of overall physical and mental health. As Black people tend to have higher stress levels, having flexibility can be life-changing for Black professionals.
Opening up more possibilities for Black entrepreneurs
One aspect of remote entrepreneurship which is particularly appealing to Black entrepreneurs is the possibility to conduct business operations in a location-independent manner. According to a recent survey by Future of Work Abroad, Americans who start a business abroad are happier.
Being away from the center of racial discrimination and exclusion, some Black entrepreneurs note that having a location-independent lifestyle reduces the amount of pressure they face.
Can remote work improve Black workers' experience?
While policies of diversity and inclusion are some of the top priorities of the industry’s leading organizations around the globe, total and unconditional inclusivity is still something that has to be worked on towards actualization. With the changing dynamics of business and professional life in the post-pandemic world, employees and professionals belonging to ethnic minorities such as the Black community express the level of comfort working remotely brings into their lives.
With multiple perks such as an increased access to career prospects, diminished levels of stress, opportunities to economize money and time, improved mental health and better entrepreneurship opportunities, working remotely is far from being unpopular among Black professionals.
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