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.
A 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
A 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