Northern Lights: Diversity in the workplace because ‘people matter and respect matters’

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Diversity. It’s a hot topic, but also one that from my experience many senior executives and board members fear and can avoid talking about. The ‘right’ way of approaching the subject is, in itself, very diverse and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to ensure a healthy culture of inclusion is accepted across our organisations. In order to achieve a workforce that represents the cultures and backgrounds in our communities, there are a number of things to consider, and with such a sensitive issue, I have often seen managers and leaders who find it really difficult to get their businesses properly aligned to this subject.

So how hard is it? Actually, the crux of it lies very simply with being genuinely committed to granting everyone equal access to employment opportunities – this will by definition open your doors to a wider range of talent that may just be the very thing you need to succeed in today’s business climate.

Research has shown time and time again that organisations with diverse and inclusive workforces outperform the rest.

Research has shown time and time again that organisations with diverse and inclusive workforces outperform the rest. For example: 

* Ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to have financial returns above national industry medians and gender diverse companies are 15% more likely to do the same (McKinsey) 

* Companies with more women on the board statistically outperform their peers over a long period of time (Catalyst) 

* Inclusive teams outperform their peers by 80% in team-based assessments (Deloitte)

A staring point is to take a more analytical approach to reveal and be honest about the mistakes you could be making in your recruitment processes. Here are a few common mistakes and how keeping an eye on the data can help fix them:

Mistake #1: Ignoring Your Current Employee Population

Use analytics to look at your current employee population and examine headcount by gender, race, cultural background etc. This process will reveal insights such as whether your organisation needs a more multi-cultural perspective from your executive leadership team, or maybe a better gender balance in STEM roles. Once you know where you stand, you can work to determine which diversity goals are more important and how to work towards them.

Mistake #2: Lack of Diversity in the Hiring Funnel

When hiring managers are pressuring recruiters to hire critical positions as quickly as possible, they can become lazy about working hard to add diversity as a key requirement. A data-driven recruiter continuously monitors their funnel to see whether diversity increases or decreases as candidates move through the pipeline. Use analytics to keep track of diversity ratios (i.e. for gender, ethnicity, and cultural background) for every stage in the hiring funnel. This will make it clear where in your hiring process you lose your candidates, and allow you to come up with a strategy to stop this from happening. This could help you flag some training and development areas for your team too, as they may well have been the cause of a candidate becoming disengaged with the process if they haven’t been properly trained around diversity and inclusion as well as how to conduct a good interview in general.

Mistake #3: Failing to Match Interviewers to Candidates

There has been research into the reduced bias seen when the diversity of a job interviewer is matched to the candidate’s. For example, a female interviewer matched to a female candidate. It’s an experiment worth trying at your organisation. Keep a close eye on whether it improves your hiring rates. The data will show whether this is a practice you should try for all open positions. The key though, is making sure your team are well versed in the concept of respect and inclusion for all. Absolutely everyone, everywhere is entitled to their own thoughts, beliefs and opinions, but if you know there is someone with unconscious (or conscious) bias one way or another about a certain gender, race, religion etc, be careful about where you include them in the hiring process, and make sure there are strategies in place to keep all employees feeling happy and safe in the workplace.

Mistake #4: Forgetting to Look at Post-Hire Data

How candidates that are hired fare in the long-term can actually reveal important insights about your hiring practices. How long these employees stay at the company, how they perform, how happy they are in their role after six months, and how soon they receive promotions can tell you so much about your hiring strategy, and about how your organisation is treating the people you have hired. Making sure you are consistently being fair, balanced and purely measuring your team on their performance and output will make for a happier, more motivated team.

The case for the business benefits of diversity isn’t a new one, but in order to get the best results, there needs to be a genuine commitment to allowing everyone access to the same opportunities. Armed with the right tools, training and strategies, business leaders can better support diversity and inclusion in the workplace while reaping the benefits that result

People matter, respect matters, and everyone in our region needs to strive towards bringing all walks of life, from all areas of our region together to drive growth.