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Work From Home Has the Power to Advance Equality—or Set It Back

Employers that ignore potential pitfalls could inadvertently intensify office biases.

Photo: Getty Images

Crystal Tomczyk lights up when she talks about the work-from-home boom. She’s the vice president for equity and belonging at Zillow Group Inc., where she helps recruit and retain a workforce representative of the country’s demographics. The real estate website, according to its 2020 diversity report, is far from reaching that goal. Men make up about two-thirds of leadership, and White people hold almost 80% of the top jobs. Of the company’s more than 5,000 workers, just 5.1% are Black and 6.9% identify as Latinx, well below their respective shares of the population.

The remote-work revolution that Covid-19 lockdowns have accelerated could make Tomczyk’s job a little easier. Zillow, like some of its tech company peers, has gone all in on telecommuting, allowing employees to set up shop permanently anywhere in the U.S. and Canada with decent Wi-Fi . Among the many benefits of disconnecting from the office—lower real estate costs, happier workers—Tomczyk says a big reason the online real estate company is embracing a “distributed model” is “to be able to diversify our workforce.”