3 Ways Companies Can Recruit Whilst Keeping Principles of Diversity

Some people think that having a workforce with different backgrounds and characteristics is enough to indicate diversity. But it’s not as simple as that. To be genuinely diverse, a company has to incorporate equality and inclusivity in all its processes. But why go through so much hassle?

Studies show that workplace diversity improves efficiency and productivity. A study by the Boston Consulting Group reveals that diverse leadership in businesses increases innovation. These companies have 19 percent higher revenues compared to those with low diversity scores. A diversified workplace has a broader pool of skillsets, which helps fill existing skills gaps. Having staff from different backgrounds makes a company stand out, dynamic, and receptive to change, as employees bring different experiences, unique perspectives, and fresh market insights into the table. Thus, diversity is an integral aspect of a successful profit-generating organisation.

How can companies foster a diversified workforce? It takes careful nurturing and mindful planning for an organisation to create a culture of inclusion. And often, it starts with the recruitment process. Here are three ways you can recruit while keeping the principles of diversity in mind.

Create a Diversity Team

Originally, diversity refers to racial and ethnic inclusion. In recent years, however, diversified workplace encompasses various characteristics, including gender, age, sexual orientation, physical abilities and disabilities, religion, political beliefs, educational attainment, language, culture, and socioeconomic background.

Not only do racially and ethnically diverse organisations perform better financially by 35 percent; they are also more preferred by 67 percent of jobseekers, especially the millennials. In fact, a global survey shows that 74 percent of millennials perceive their company to be more innovative when there is diversity and inclusion.

Most successful companies have a group that focuses mainly on improving diversity in the workplace. It is not enough that the recruiting team understands the technicalities and legal aspects of the hiring process. The staff must also know how to attract applicants from different backgrounds. Apart from posting job openings designed to reach a broader and more varied audience, the team should market the workplace as conducive to a diversified workforce. There may be a need to review, revise, or make new policies to support inclusion. These include offering on-site daycare, setting up non-gendered restrooms, installing disabled access, making flexible hours available, and granting workers leave from work for religious holidays.

The team can also educate the organisation about the benefits of diversity by implementing intercultural sensitivity training, facilitating events that celebrate multi-racial differences, and promoting acceptance of various beliefs and orientations in the workplace. Lastly, the team can collaborate with Human Resources to create meaningful employee engagement opportunities, including work-related programmes such as career path development and promotions and external activities such as company outings and volunteerism.

Overcome Unconscious Bias

To some degree, there’s wisdom in trusting your instincts when hiring people. But solely basing decisions on ‘gut feel’ is detrimental to the recruitment process because recruiters are likely choosing talent based on unconscious bias.

What are unconscious biases? These are behaviours and stereotypes that individuals attach unknowingly to a specific person or group, affecting how they perceive and deal with these people. For example, gender bias is the preference of one gender over the other, and ageism is the inclination to see a person negatively due to their age. Biases, whether unconscious or not, can unwittingly lead to labor discrimination.

study by the National Bureau of Economic Research indicates that one of the most prevalent biases in the hiring process is name bias. It occurs when recruiters prefer applicants with certain types of names, usually those of Anglo origin, over other candidates. Another research shows that managers of both sexes are more likely to hire men than women for careers in mathematics and science.

One of the most effective ways to combat unconscious bias during recruitment is by utilising a blind hiring platform. Various online tools offer anonymous application forms which eliminate specific information about the applicants. There’s also the old-fashioned albeit effective way of imposing blind hiring, wherein recruiters can instruct job seekers not to include their name, address, name of college, or graduation date in their resumes. A number is designated for every candidate instead.

To eliminate implicit biases, the hiring staff must have a goal, such as aiming to hire more women in management positions within the year. The team can fine-tune their blind hiring methods by introducing the process to the organisation in small steps. Start by educating the hiring managers and recruiters about diversity, its benefits, and legal implications. Training will guide the recruiting team on how to make the hiring process more inclusive. It also ensures that the staff knows how to ask skills-based questions and choose candidates based on merit. Lastly, evaluate the effectiveness of the new recruitment platform to find what needs to change to improve the process.

Work with Recruiters

study by recruitment consultancy Robert Walters reveals that 85 percent of companies want to increase diversity in the workplace. However, 46 percent don’t have a working strategy to draw diverse talents. Furthermore, 45 percent of employers believe their existing recruitment devices are ineffective at aiding various applicants to find their organisation.

So, who has the responsibility for developing a diverse and inclusive recruitment plan? A few organisations have a team that specialises in enhancing diversity in the hiring process. But then, as shown in the researches mentioned, many of their approaches may be inadequate to get in touch with a broader talent pool. Statistics show that organisations can attract more diverse candidates by carefully wording job vacancy postings, offering flexible working schedules, promoting workplace inclusion, and tapping into third-party agencies, such as recruitment consultancies.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 57 percent of recruiters design their strategies to boost workplace diversity. Recruitment consultancies, such as Lightening Travel Recruitment, offer personalised services and reliable tips that zero in on the needs of their clients and connect to the organisation’s purpose. Thus, if a business is looking to diversify its workforce, it should collaborate with recruiters to create a hiring plan with well-defined goals and intended outcomes. Recruiters often meet with diverse organisations and a wide variety of candidates at job fairs tailored to a multi-cultural talent base. Their connection to a more extensive network provides companies with a more diverse shortlist of talents.

HR Future Staff Writer

 

Have you prevented any deaths in this pandemic?

The pandemic has raised many questions as to whether it’s a disaster that could have been prevented. There are two kinds of disasters humanity has to face – natural ones, over which we to dater had very little control, although the growing climate change crisis is a preventable disaster if we collectively take the right action, and then there are the man-made disasters over which we have more control than we realise.

The first question that gets asked in the case of a man-made disaster is: couldn’t anything have been done to prevent the disaster. And the answer usually is, “Yes”.

Much debate has already been undertaken to determine if the Covid-19 pandemic is a man-made disaster that could have been prevented. Such disasters are usually caused by a series of contributing factors. Investigators and researchers who have had the task of investigating man-made disasters such as airplane crashes, large scale corporate failures, space shuttle catastrophes, personal reputation failures or government disasters have generally come to the same conclusion. Contrary to what many people think, the disaster did not occur as a result of one isolated catastrophic mistake, but rather as the result of a chain of events that eventually led to one, sometimes small, event taking place that acted as the trigger for the disaster.

That means there was a series of events that, had anyone recognised their significance, connected the dots and taken appropriate action to address them, could have been stopped so that the eventual disaster did not occur. Time will reveal all regarding our current disaster …

Part of the tragedy of any man-made disaster is that no-one saw the significance of the seemingly innocent and unrelated events that were ultimately building toward the disaster.

Now that we are well and truly in a disaster with a global death toll at the time of writing this of 4,203,776 deaths, the question we now need to be asking is not whether the whole pandemic could have been prevented (a good question but one that won’t at this point necessarily prevent more deaths), but what we can do to reduce or prevent further deaths.

It may be prudent for you to take a step back from your personal and/or professional life to assess the events that are happening around you. Is there a pattern of events that could possibly be contributing to a disaster waiting to happen in your family, team or company?

Look for something insignificant. King Solomon talks of the “little foxes” that destroy a vineyard. Maybe there are a number of “little foxes” in your life or your company that need to be addressed.

Ignoring seemingly unimportant matters can indeed contribute to the pandemic disaster continuing. By not wearing a mask, not washing or sanitising your hands, not socially distancing or not getting vaccinated, you could unwittingly be contributing to the disaster continuing.

Don’t ignore small details. Successful detectives who crack major cases often point to the fact that it wasn’t some brilliant flash of inspiration that resulted in the case being cracked, but it was the routine, unglamorous legwork – attending to the small details – that cracked the case wide open.

Don’t grow weary of attending to the small details during these times. Although you may never know it, you may well be responsible for saving someone’s life, possibly your own!

You may therefore be doing yourself a massive favour. After all, the best disaster is the one that simply never happened!

Alan Hosking is the Publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net and @HRFuturemag. He is an internationally recognised authority on leadership competencies for the future and teaches experienced business leaders as well as millennial managers how to lead with empathy, compassion, integrity, purpose and agility. In 2018, he was named by US-based web site Disruptordaily.com as one of the Top 25 Future of Work Influencers to Follow on Twitter“. In 2020, he was named one of the “Top 200 Global Power Thought Leaders to watch in 2021” by peopleHum in India.

The economies that will bear the brunt of COVID-19’s fallout

While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe economic impact on just about every country in the world, there will inevitably be nations that will have to endure significantly more severe economic fallout in the years to come. Measures implemented to deal with the crisis in the short term, such as lowering interest rates, are very likely to cause issues down the road.

This is according to our findings in a recent report titled “Which countries’ finances will suffer the worst long-term scarring from Covid-19?”. In it, we take a closer look at countries’ ability to balance their books over the medium term, as they recover from the fiscal impact of the pandemic.

Most notably, increased borrowing throughout the pandemic and future years will inevitably lead to higher levels of debt as a share of GDP for nearly every country. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted that borrowing will peak in 2020 for most countries. A handful of advanced markets are expected to borrow at least as much in 2025 as in 2019 – suggesting long-term scarring, or excess borrowing. Canada, Japan, Australia and the US may manage to reduce borrowing back below 2019 levels. In emerging markets, Brazil, South Africa and Chile are expected to be running a deficit smaller than in 2019 by 2025. China and India are expected to still run deficits over 8% of GDP. Only Chile, Thailand and Russia are forecast to have deficits below 2% of GDP, though Russia used to run a surplus before the pandemic.

The sole exception in this regard will be Germany, which is expected to cut its deficit back towards surplus and generate enough growth to allow for its debt levels to stabilise.

It may be surprising to learn that some countries will indeed see the cost of financing their existing debt decrease over the coming years. That is thanks to the actions of central banks that have cut interest rates and reintroduced quantitative easing.

Unfortunately, debt forecasts for the private sector are largely non-existent. However, the latest data available from 2019 could still provide some insights. For example, it shows that Italy, which is well known as one of the most indebted major countries in the world, is actually less indebted than Spain and the UK as a share of GDP. After Japan, France and Canada are the most indebted nations, followed by the US and South Korea. High indebtedness in emerging markets is not well tolerated by financial markets.

This is where the world’s biggest liabilities will lie over the next few years. High private debt is arguably more dangerous than high government debt as companies and households have limited resources and are more prone to arrears and defaults. Governments on the other hand have multiple generations to reduce indebtedness, and the levels are less important than being able to re-finance that debt on an ongoing basis.

With that said, there are some liabilities that governments face which are not captured by public finance statistics. For one, age related spending is a poorly understood future cost for governments. The IMF provides an estimate of these broken down into pension spending and healthcare spending. Ageing populations caused by current demographics are largely to blame for the higher spending on healthcare. Demographics in Germany and Spain are significantly worse than those in the US, but the higher cost of healthcare in the US raises the level of spending dramatically. Brazil is only a little behind the US, with most of the extra cost coming from pensions spending, though the 2019 pension reform is a first step towards tackling this.

A significant number of countries are in danger of being ill prepared for the next cyclical downturn. By 2025, one quarter of major economies may still lack fiscal space to manoeuvre, while simultaneously still suffering a drag on their annual budgets from sub-trend cyclical performance.

As an emerging economy plagued by both private and public debt, South Africa is likely to struggle in coming years to return its finances to a sustainable path. However, the country is expected to re-establish its fiscal space by 2025. Doing so will require tremendous restraint and discipline to enact significant fiscal austerity.

The full Schroders report is available here.

Azad Zangana is a Senior European Economist and Strategist at global asset manager Schroders.

A guide to employers’ tax obligations after damage to their premises

The recent looting and damage to businesses in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng has had a devastating impact on many businesses, both small and large. In some cases, the damage is so severe that the business cannot continue to produce or sell, and valuable data may have been lost, including employee and tax records.

In this article, we deal with some of the possible implications for affected employers and employees.

No money for payroll

If an employer’s premises are so severely damaged that employees cannot work and there is no work from home alternative, the “no work no pay” principle with no accrual of benefits would likely apply, as the employer is not able to perform in terms of the employment contract due to supervening impossibility.

Where employers are severely cash constrained, they may not able to pay their employees at all. Ideally, the employer and employee consult and agree to a temporary lay-off while the business is rebuilt. The employees may receive no or minimal remuneration during this period. In this case, employees would qualify to receive reduced work time (RWT) benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).

The UIF recently enabled a bulk application process for Covid-19 affected employers to apply for the RWT benefits for their employees. RWT benefits will be paid by the UIF directly to the employees. These payments are conditional on the employees being contributors to the UIF and having sufficient UIF credits; and on employers being up-to-date with their UIF compliance obligations, including the submission of monthly reports to the UIF.

There are industry discussions to provide for the normal RWT benefit to be calculated in the same manner as the RWT benefit is calculated in the Covid-19 Temporary Employer / Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) directive. This is more beneficial as it provides for an employee to be paid the full value calculated in terms of the formula in the Unemployment Insurance Act. Any amount paid by the employer to top up the payments will not reduce the benefit calculated in terms of the formula as long as, in total, employees do not receive more than their normal remuneration. These discussions further hope to provide for an efficient process for employers with destroyed businesses to apply for relief for their employees as well.

Impossibility of meeting tax deadlines

The employer’s EMP 201 for a month and payroll taxes are usually due by the 7th of the following month. Late payments of payroll taxes after the due dates result in a 10% late payment penalty and interest calculated from the 1st of the following month at the current rate of 7% per annum.

In President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Address to the Nation on Sunday 25 July 2021, he announced the deferral of “PAYE taxes” for three months to provide businesses with additional cash flow, and an automatic deferral of 35% of “PAYE liabilities” for employers with revenue below ZAR100 million. The employment tax incentive (ETI) would also be expanded to include any employees earning below ZAR 6 500 and the incentive amount would be increased by up to ZAR750 a month.

National Treasury in the media briefing on 28 July 2021 has confirmed that the deferral of the PAYE liabilities and ETI amendments will be from 1 August 2021 for four months. A more detailed note on all the tax relief will be published.

Employers who are still unable to meet their payment obligations after the four months of relief should apply to SARS for deferral of these obligations or a compromise / waiver of tax debts, to avoid collection measures. Those collection measures could include debiting the taxpayer’s bank account for the amounts due. The SARS website contains email addresses for the various regions which taxpayers can approach to apply for deferral of payment obligations.

Where the 10% late payment penalty has been triggered, it may be possible for the employer to justify the late payment on the basis of exceptional circumstances. The Tax Administration Act provides for SARS to remit the late payment penalty if SARS is satisfied that one of the following exceptional circumstances prevented the taxpayer from complying with its payment obligations:

  1. human-made disaster;
  2. civil disturbance or disruption in services;
  3. serious emotional or mental distress;
  4. serious financial hardship in the case of a business, which is an immediate danger that the continuity of business operations and the continued employment of its employees are jeopardised;
  5. any other circumstance of similar severity.

In our view, the violence, looting and destruction of an employer’s business should fall within one of the exceptional circumstances above. In applying for the deferral or write-off of tax obligations, the employer should submit supporting documents such as photos, insurance or police reports, and bank statements to SARS demonstrating the direct link between these circumstances and the late payment.

Interest can also be remitted on the basis of circumstances beyond the taxpayer’s control, and these circumstances are limited to:

  1. a natural or human-made disaster;
  2. a civil disturbance or disruption in services; or
  3. a serious illness or accident.

SARS is likely to adopt a case-by-case consideration of whether to remit the penalties and interest and we hope that SARS will adopt a sympathetic approach.

No machines to submit payroll returns

As SARS officials work remotely and various compliance services are available online, such as eFiling, easyfile, online self-help services, and SARS’s Mobi App, we believe it is unlikely that SARS will accept the destruction of an employer’s computers as the sole reason for non-or late compliance of payroll obligations.

Some employers would already be using an external payroll provider or a laptop at home, which was not affected by the damage at the business premises.

SARS is also unlikely to accept the destruction of records as a reason for non-compliance with tax obligations and inability to discharge the onus of proof. However, cloud backup is readily and efficiently available.

If the employer’s records and computers are destroyed and the employer has no off-site or cloud backup, then it may not be in a position to issue IRP 5 certificates to employees for the 2021 year of assessment, for which the filing season recently opened. SARS is unlikely to accept damage of computers as the sole reason for non-compliance. The employer should possibly reconstruct the payroll using best estimates and submit the IRP 5 for the 2021 year of assessment. This is to prevent the employees having to submit their ITR12 tax returns without SARS having records that the PAYE had been withheld and paid to SARS for them.

Business closures

Unfortunately, some employers who were already on their last cash reserves before the destruction of their businesses will be unable to recover without government support.  These employers should commence the section 189 or 189A of the Labour Relations Act retrenchment process. If it is necessary to retrench their employees, any statutory payment as a result of termination of employment (excluding notice and leave pay) would qualify as a severance benefit.

Employees that have not made a lump sum retirement withdrawal or not previously received severance benefits will be able to take up to ZAR500 000 as exempt from income tax. The employer would need to apply for a directive before making the severance payment.

Joon Chong and Nina Keyser from Webber Wentzel.

Your Cart