It is a fact that prejudice and social injustice remain deeply ingrained in our society. As these issues have permeated our collective consciousness, largely thanks to widespread Black Lives Matter protests, it falls to each of us to ask how we want to make our society fairer, more just, and better for everyone.
Recruiters and staffing professionals can play a key role in ensuring that people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to progress and succeed at work. This means understanding diversity and moving beyond quotas and checkboxes. Diversity begets diversity – and it’s well established that diversity begets innovation and prosperity. Here are 5 ideas to promote diversity in the workplace advised By Vinda Souza, VP of Global Communications at Bullhorn.
Work with hiring managers to eliminate unconscious bias
As Dr Marcia Goddard explained in her talk at Bullhorn’s virtual conference, EngageX, it’s natural to hold unconscious biases – preconceptions of people or groups that we believe without being aware that we hold them – but it’s something we must work to overcome. These subconscious structures form a major impediment to bringing in the most capable people, limiting diversity and harming the organisation.
Recruiters can take immediate measures to challenge these biases. For instance, gender-neutral job descriptions with a carefully considered language will encourage a more diverse set of candidates. For example, phrases with the strong masculine (such as “aggressive”) or culturally-specific (such as “happy hour”) connotations have the potential to stop a more diverse range of candidates from feeling like they would be a good fit for the company.
Blind CVs, where all identifying information is removed, is another effective technique to remove unconscious bias. You might also consider technology that can automate CV parsing to help identify suitable candidates purely based on skills, qualities, and qualifications rather than reviewing CVs manually.
Offer L&D for everybody
A company’s focus on diversity shouldn’t stop once the candidate is through the door. Everyone deserves the opportunity to progress, which can be done by providing equal access to learning and development opportunities, especially leadership training, as well as ensuring an equal path to promotion.
Additionally, without an inclusive culture, diverse candidates have little incentive to remain in your organisation, which eliminates the benefit of your expanded talent pools. Although some progress has been made, candidates for board-level positions still look much like they did a decade ago. That means decision-makers are working from a narrow, shared pool of life experiences, which can result in short-sighted or tone-deaf decisions.
Rethink the meaning of ‘diversity’
What is diversity? Many will quickly say that it’s all about ethnicity and gender, and those are certainly part of the equation, but this neglects other factors such as disability status and socioeconomic background. Everybody’s unique experience of the world brings something new to the table, so be sure to welcome people from as many walks of life as possible if your end goal is to make better decisions that result in more profitable business outcomes.
Dr Goddard added the importance of creating a considerate environment in everyday interactions. That means calling out co-workers when they casually display prejudice or commit microaggressions, otherwise, we simply perpetuate a culture that is hostile to minority groups. During her EngageX discussion, Dr Goddard recommended openly and earnestly asking people what they mean when they say something that is offensive or inconsiderate, as this doesn’t provoke confrontation while still forcing them to review their words and actions.
Embrace flexible working
Working from home (as many of us have recently discovered) is viable for many non-service-oriented businesses. Similarly, flexible working has few drawbacks and can make a significant difference in the lives of many employees, especially those for whom being in a dedicated office space for an extended period of time is problematic. Flexible working – breaking free of the regular nine-to-five schedule and allowing employees to work whenever they choose as long as they fulfil their objectives and outcomes – offers significant benefits to working parents, caregivers, and employees with physical or neurological disabilities.
Make the company’s commitment to diversity known
Finally, once a company has made progress, let people know. Applicants are generally attracted to a workplace that is committed to equality and inclusivity, so making D&I a part of the company’s public image can help attract more talent. Companies can feel confident displaying diversity as a cornerstone of their culture in marketing and PR and internal recruiting.
However, the company needs to live up to its values. Authenticity is one of the most important traits to both customers and prospective employees, so loudly celebrating diversity while maintaining an all-white, all-male managerial and leadership team won’t cut it. This moment is an opportunity to hold a mirror up to the company, ask hard questions about what can be improved, and take necessary action.