Prioritising diversity in hiring is a critical business priority right now. Many business leaders already recognise the benefits a diverse workforce can bring, but have problems reaching their hiring objectives. And statistics suggest we have a long way to go before diversity and inclusion is truly embedded consistently within all organisations.
Below we’ll emphasise the value that diversity can bring to a company, and how a change of approach can see your own organisation reap the benefits.
Diversity and inclusion are hot topics currently, and rightly so. Surely, in 2022, innovative organisations should be capable of identifying and acquiring the best talent in the market, irrespective of their gender, lifestyle preference, colour, physical appearance or neurodivergence is unacceptable, right? Let’s take a look at the facts.
In 2021, just 26% of all CEOs and managing directors were women. This is a massive growth from 2019’s figure of 15%, but it only makes up one quarter of the percentage. In addition, black employees hold just 1.5% of top management roles in the UK private sector. Leadership is still predominantly a white, male domain.
In the same year, just 19% of those with a physical disability were employed, alongside 21% of autistic people. Whilst we’re on the employment issue, transgender people reported unemployment at twice the rate of the population as a whole.
What does this mean? Well, it’s great that the diversity discussion is on-going, but in practice, figures suggest that little is changing. Even if businesses are fully-committed to a diversity hiring program, internal factors (such as a lack of understanding or education) are preventing them from putting their philosophy into practice.
Before we address why businesses struggle to recruit diverse workforces, let’s briefly cover the reasons why it’s so beneficial to have one. In essence, a diverse workforce can make your business stand out from the crowd when hiring, and actually makes it easier for businesses to achieve growth and secure an advantage over their competitors.
Here’s the how and why. Let’s say your organisation wants to launch a new product or service. You’ll likely be aiming to reach a large number of customers or clients, in order to make more money. In order to secure the interests of a large number of people, you’ll need to make that product or service appeal to a diverse cross-section of consumers.
If those working on the creation and launch of your product are all white, middle-class males in the 30-40 age bracket, you’ll most likely have a more linear bunch of ideas. Compare this to a team containing different age groups, genders, lifestyle preferences and cultures. This team will be able to relate to a greater and more diverse population of consumers.
Products and services serving a diverse customer base, need to be diverse in order to make it big. Diverse teams are more likely to think more broadly about potential challenges and solutions, to create the best products. So, if a business leader wants to be successful, they need to ensure they are identifying and hiring diverse talent and create an inclusive environment for these individuals to thrive.
There are no doubt many business leaders out there who are currently struggling to meet their D&I objectives, despite being 100% in favour of a diverse workforce.
We’ll look into a few considerations regarding hiring practices for diversity below that can help a business cross the gap.
Adopting the right philosophy is only the start. To enable diverse hiring, business leaders and TA functions need to change their processes from the ground up. They may be seeking diverse candidates for example, but make their job advert too complex for those with different thought-processes to follow. To give an example, 9% of candidates with disabilities drop out of the application process due to usability issues.
Furthermore, the Huffington Post has drawn attention to specific language being a barrier to diversity. For instance, the term ‘ninja’ plays into male stereotypes, attracting a greater number of male applicants than women. Businesses may be missing out due to unconscious bias or the clumsy use of language.
Organisations can guard against such challenges by asking for feedback from a diverse range of people and improving their own knowledge prior to beginning the hiring process. When it comes to creating job descriptions, they can also try running a form through a gender decoder such as Textio, to ensure all language used is neutral. And to enable people with different thought-processes to follow an application form, it’s best to focus on skill-sets rather than the traditional interview trick questions.
Employers should reconsider what’s most-important when it comes to finding the very best talent. Traditional requirements such as degrees limit the number of applicants you can receive. There could be someone out there who has all the core skills you are looking for, but who has not followed a traditional education path.
Likewise, insisting all of your interviews take place on the 15th floor of your office block may be immediately off-putting for those with physical disabilities. Whereas offering online interviews enables everyone to attend and perform to the best of their ability. Flexibility is key.
When it comes to securing the best candidates, a talent acquisition strategy, is more effective than traditional recruitment. Talent acquisition is directly linked to business goals – firstly establish your aims, then create the right approach to bring these to fruition.
However, whilst such a strategy can help you secure and retain the best employees, it’s a lengthy process. Employer demands mean that recruiters often have to work using shortcuts, and too often the best skill-sets can be overlooked. When given a lack of resources, recruiters may have to create application filters for candidates based on education criteria or specific experience. Yet those with the best skill-sets may not fit into such rigid boxes.
Talent acquisition specialists need time to passively search for the right calibre of talent. Allocate sufficient resources to your strategy and your recruiter will be able to deliver the quality and diversity of candidates you seek. Furthermore, arming your TA function with data and market insights on the talent landscape, will enable better decision making when searching for diverse candidates.
An important consideration is to place diversity hiring at the heart of your business objectives. It should be clear within your employer branding strategy, that your company is truly inclusive and empowers all employees to succeed. Every employee in your organisation, from every level of seniority should be committed to creating an environment where all individuals are welcome and can perform at their best.
Look across all facets of your hiring, developing and retention programs. A one-size-fits-all approach will never work – processes need to be made bespoke to enable those with points-of-difference to thrive. This could be anything from making your office more accessible for wheelchair users to having quiet rooms where autistic employees can focus without distraction. Enable ways for all employee voices to be heard to really reap the benefits of a diverse workforce.
Given the current figures, businesses are still struggling to put diverse hiring programs into practice, despite a growing awareness regarding the benefits of doing so. Truly valuing the results that diversity brings and ensuring this is understood across all levels of your business is a first step, and increasing your investment in the process can help deliver results.
Ultimately, great talent is always diverse. A diversity agenda should be about far more than ticking boxes. If organisations want to truly benefit from a diverse workforce, they need to think outside the box and be prepared to adapt existing practices to cultivate an inclusive environment.
If you want to accelerate the success of your diversity hiring strategy, Elements Intelligence can help.
To discuss your Talent Acquisition needs, get in touch with us today
Elements are the pioneers and leaders of Embedded Talent Consultancy. Our consultants are embedded within some of the world’s best-known organisations, solving their toughest and most complex hiring challenges.
In addition to our work with leading brands, including Spotify, IKEA and TikTok, we have helped scale SME's and Start-ups, including Zendesk and Stitch & Story.