The coronavirus pandemic has caused many employees to need to work from home. Fortunately, with modern technology, many companies can provide setups that allow their employees to work remotely. However, research shows that remote work is not as accessible to minorities as it is for Caucasians and those of Asian descent. There are a few reasons for these differences.
More Black and Hispanic workers tend to be employed by the service industry. Let’s face it, some jobs just can’t be done from home. A study from the Economic Policy Institute discovered that just under 30% of Americans now have the ability to work remotely. Breaking down this number further, this figure represents over 60% of the top quartile of wage earners while only just over 9% of the bottom quartile can work from home.
According to Heidi Shierholz, co-author of the forementioned report and a director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute, explains this disparity creates a divide between white-collar, higher-paying positions and those workers in the lower paying service industry. In fact, around 30% of Caucasian employees are able to work remotely while 20% of Black and 16% of Hispanic workers share the same benefit.
This makes all of the work from home positions difficult to obtain for minorities, including virtual employment such as virtual assisting. Virtual assistants work from home helping clients on different tasks such as editing spreadsheets or creating presentations. Higher-paid employees are more likely to live in areas with access to high speed internet and have faster computers as well. All of these factors make working for home more difficult for those in lower income positions.
Of those employees that are able to work from home, Shierholz also explained that nearly one-quarter of administrative workers are able to work from home. In addition, nearly 30% of those in sales positions and more than 60% of managers in an office setting are able to work from home. The issue of working from home is deeper than simply having a computer and internet access. It points out the disparity in income and opportunities in minority groups as well.
Not everybody can work from home: Black and Hispanic workers are much less likely to be able to telework