Remote Work Opportunities Lead to a More Diverse Applicant Pool

A new study from scholars at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business has found remote work job postings in the STEM fields attract more diverse applicant pools compared to on-site positions.

To conduct their study, the research team analyzed data from hundreds of thousands of STEM job postings from 2018 to 2022, two years before and two years after the COVID-19 pandemic, when remote work became significantly more prevalent. Over this timeframe, there was a 15 percent increase in women and a 33 percent increase in underrepresented minority applicants for open STEM positions.

In their paper, the study authors cite three possible reasons as to why remote jobs are more attractive to diverse applicants. Considering women in the United States take on a larger share of childcare responsibilities, remote work may be more attractive to women seeking more flexibility with their time. Remote jobs also offer location flexibility, meaning applicants do not have to live in expensive urban areas in order to commute to work. Additionally, working from home allows women and underrepresented minorities to remove themselves from potential hostile work environments where they may encounter discrimination.

While their study focused on STEM jobs, the research team believes their findings can provide important insight to companies from all industries who looking to draw in more diverse candidates. The study estimated applicants are willing to take a 7 percent lower salary if a job is remote compared to the same job on-site, suggesting companies should consider work-from-home opportunities as a viable and attractive employee benefit.

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