4 ways to build (and maintain) a diverse and inclusive workplace

Workplace Diversity

Workplace diversity has become an increasingly common topic of conversation among recruiters, HR professionals, and small business owners as of late – and for good reason.

Now more than ever, businesses are beginning to understand that building and maintaining a diverse and inclusive workplace isn’t simply a politically correct ‘box ticking’ exercise. Rather, it’s something that brings serious and tangible benefits to their company.

If you’re ready to incorporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) into your talent acquisition strategy, the Integrated Recruitment team have pulled together their 4 top tips that will set you up for success.

1. Take time to understand the importance of diversity

This first one may seem a little obvious, but we can’t stress just how important it is. Before implementing any changes to your company structure, policies, or processes, your team must understand why these changes are being made.

Whilst there are a number of benefits to embracing workplace diversity with open arms, some of the most impactful include:

  • A variety of perspectives – Having a range of employees from different backgrounds will likely bring an essential mix of skills and experiences.
  • Creativity and innovation – Variety leads to increased creativity, and increased creativity leads to new ideas and higher innovation.
  • Higher engagement and lower turnover – When employees feel included, they are more engaged, and when they are more engaged, they are less likely to leave.
  • A boost to company reputation – Building and promoting a diverse workplace makes your company seem more human and socially responsible.

Ensuring that all departments and seniority levels understand the ‘why’ (and not just the ‘how’) of workplace diversity means you’re more likely to build a DE&I strategy that stands the test of time.

2. Consider the makeup of the board and senior team

Did you know that, in 2019, the FTSE 100 had more CEOs named Steve than those from ethnic minorities? Around the same time, research also found that there were almost the same number of Fortune 500 CEOs called John as there were females.

When reviewing and revising your company-wide approach to workplace diversity, it can be tempting to start at the very bottom, but you’re likely to see much greater success when taking a top-down approach. Here’s why…

Not only do emerging leaders and top performers want to see themselves reflected at the top, but, according to McKinsey’s 2020 report Diversity Wins, companies with a leadership team representative of society outperformed those without.

Specifically, the report highlighted how:

  • In the case of ethnic and cultural diversity at executive level, top-quartile companies outperformed those in the bottom quartile by 36% in profitability.
  • Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were also 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than those in the bottom quartile.

If your senior leadership team lacks the diversity that you’d like to see in future talent pipelines, consider why this is the case and how you can encourage a more diverse boardroom moving forward (the following 2 points might help you with this).

3. Implement policies that appeal to diverse candidates

When it comes to incorporating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion into your talent acquisition strategy, you’ve got to do more than just talk the talk. Instead, you must work to make real changes that will appeal to a diverse range of candidates.

A great place to start is with your current policies. Take some time to review these policies and see if any of them benefit some employees over others. For example, here are 3 common policies and practices adopted by businesses across the UK and some suggestions on how to make them more inclusive:

Holidays –

Given that Christianity has dominated religion in the UK for over 1,000 years, it’s unsurprising that workers across the country are automatically given days like Christmas and Easter Monday off work.

To acknowledge and honour multiple religious and cultural practices, consider offering ‘floating holidays’ instead. Your employees can use these on any religious holiday of their choosing.

Working hours –

Flexible working has been a hugely popular topic of discussion since the COVID-19 pandemic, and it isn’t showing any sign of slowing.

If you want to open up future job roles to as many suitable candidates as possible, aim to accommodate health appointments, childcare, and different time zones through flexible working hours. Similarly, remain open to the idea of part-time and job share roles.

Benefits –

Diversity goes beyond ethnicity and gender; it includes age too.

When reviewing your benefits schemes, make sure they’re based on an employee’s value to the company and not their age or tenure. By contrast, ensure that all employees have equal access to training opportunities – not just those at entry level.

4. Remove unconscious bias from the hiring process

As the Harvard Business Review perfectly summarises, ‘unconscious racism, ageism, and sexism play a big role in who gets hired.’ However, there are steps that business owners can take to recognise and reduce these biases.

Here are a few quick-fire suggestions:

  • Use gender-neutral language in your job adverts (software like Textio and Gender Decoder can help with this) and avoid phrases that exclude older people, such as ‘young team’ or ‘digital native’.
  • Encourage your hiring managers and recruitment professionals to use ‘blind applications’. These remove details like race, nationality, gender, and age.
  • Having an interview panel made up of a diverse range of colleagues can help to ensure that any personal unconscious biases are mitigated (though this isn’t always an option for micro and small businesses).

Whilst these changes are only minor, together, they can prevent you from disengaging top-tier candidates at the very beginning of the process, thus opening your job role up to a much greater talent pool.

How Integrated Recruitment can help

Attracting and retaining a diverse workforce has never been as vital as it is today. If you’re ready to overhaul your existing talent acquisition process to accommodate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, get in touch with the Integrated Recruitment team today.

Whether you’re looking for a one-off hire or someone to manage all elements of your recruitment process (known as RPO), we can help you to hire the right candidates at the right time.

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