It’s simple – diversity and inclusion drive business revenue and profits.
According to EY, companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have higher financial returns than their industry peers.
Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are also 15% more likely to perform better financially than their peers.
Diversity pays off and executives know it.
Deloitte found that more than two-thirds of executives rated it as an important issue. So, the question is not why, but how do companies successfully hire and retain a diverse talent pool?
Here are ten top tips to improve diversity in your organisation.
1. Put diversity and inclusion at the heart of your organisation
Make diversity and inclusion part of your core company values and manifesto. Paying lip service is not good enough.
Make sure that diversity is embraced at the top, starting with the board.
Include it in your company narrative, on your website, in your job descriptions, social media and all internal and external communications.
Make sure your recruitment agents understand your commitment to diversity too.
Create a diversity and inclusion strategy, a committee or steering group and a recruitment panel that includes underrepresented groups.
2. Know your workforce using People analytics
Use People analytics to really know your workforce. This means not just mining data but using it to gain actionable insights and drive business decisions.
Analyse your workforce data to understand how diverse your business currently is. Assess where the gaps are and devise a long-term strategy to diversify your talent pool.
Look at ways to diversify your talent pipeline.
If people of diverse skills or backgrounds quit, make sure you have nurtured relationships so you can recruit relatively quickly to replace them.
3. Consider introducing diversity targets
Once you’ve assessed your People data and understood the diversity landscape in your business, have you considered setting targets?
Affirmative action such as setting targets is sometimes disapproved of. Critics claim that candidates may be awarded roles because they are from underrepresented groups, rather than because they are competent.
However, a study by the London School of Economics found the reverse to be true.
4. Look beyond culture fit
Most employers seek to hire employees based on culture fit. While it’s understandable that companies should wish to hire people who will fit in, it can lead to a homogenous workforce.
Instead, employers should hire for culture-add – targeting candidates that bring something unique to the company culture that doesn’t currently exist.
Cast your recruitment net wider to include people from underrepresented groups. Reach out to professional organisations, conferences, job fairs and networking events catering to a diverse crowd.
Google hires people who didn’t go to college at all, and recently doubled the number of schools it actively recruits from to include historically black US colleges such as Alabama A&M.
5. Provide unconscious bias training for everyone
Unconscious racism, ageism, and sexism play a big role in who gets hired.
It is human nature to be biased – we naturally associate with or hire people who look, sound and have the same values as us.
That’s why it’s important to help your employees not only recognise their own unconscious bias, but also eliminate them through training programmes to prevent the negative impact of unconscious bias in the workplace.
6. Modernise corporate policies
Modernise your company policies to suit the needs of a diverse workforce. This will enable you to tap into a diverse talent pool and strengthen your employer brand.
Have a religious and cultural observance policy.
According to a Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) study, 43% of companies are now offering floating holidays. These allow employees to take time off based on their religious or cultural situation.
Implement policies for disabled workers, workers with mental health issues, women, parents or carers, for example.
7. Keep in mind diversity in your job descriptions
Think carefully about the skills you are looking for and articulate them appropriately.
Be careful not to use language that will immediately alienate a group of people. For example, using excessive business jargon puts off young people from underprivileged backgrounds.
Use software programs that highlight stereotypically gendered words and alternate between ‘he’ and ‘she’ in your job descriptions to strike the right balance.
8. Automate the recruitment process
Use software to remove identifying information from CVs, such as age, race, gender, religion or address.
A study of ethnicity at the University of Bristol found that Muslim men are 76% less likely to be employed than their white Christian counterparts, and Muslim women are up to 65% less likely to get hired.
Algorithms can help select candidates with the right skills and attributes for the job regardless of their background, ethnicity, social mobility or gender – provided human prejudices don’t creep into the programming of the software in the first place of course.
9. Standardise job interviews
Adopt a structured, rigorous and scientific recruitment process using psychometric testing.
Ask all candidates the same questions and use a scorecard system to rank their skills, experience and attributes against the position’s requirements. You can include likeability, but the score system should apply to this too.
By treating each candidate equally, you mitigate the risk of unconscious bias impacting your hiring process.
10. Offer remote working opportunities
Did you know 75% of UK employees favour flexible working, and nearly a third prefer flexible work over a pay rise?
Having a flexible working policy will attract workers who find it difficult to commit to a nine to five job such as parents, carers of elderly parents, those with disabilities and mental health issues and millennials who are looking for a better work-life balance.
Are you a People Company?
Recruitment requires a strategic approach to make sure businesses and teams are selecting the right employees who can support them in building a stronger company.
A great way of doing this is to ensure the talent pool is diverse in culture, skill sets, abilities and experiences.