The research is clear. Companies that include diversity at every level simply perform better. According to a McKinsey study, businesses in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns greater than their respective national medians.
This research and more like it demonstrates the value of a workplace that represents a myriad of voices and truly listens to what they have to say. This takes inclusion, not just diversity. And human resources workers have an important role in promoting this inclusion across all levels of a business.
HR professionals can help to create a more inclusive workplace. The first step is understanding the true value of such a workplace, then it’s time to integrate useful strategies not just for hiring diverse voices but ensuring those voices are heard.
Here’s what you should know.
Why HR Should Make Inclusion a Priority
Inclusion, not just diversity, is an invaluable means of improving a business’s ability to innovate and grow. With more voices representing a diversity of viewpoints, your company can better understand all kinds of demographics and explore new ventures for potential success.
To make this possible, however, businesses must first eliminate certain barriers. HR professionals can help.
First, it is essential to understand how damaging an exclusive work environment can be. The impacts of the glass ceiling effect are felt around the world where workplaces shut out women and minorities for promotion. Women in the U.K. make up less of the share than men in the top 10% of earners, for example. The results of this exclusion are damaging for all, as studies have indicated that companies with more women on their boards perform financially better. It is estimated that this lack of gender diversity means a loss of as much as £49 billion to the U.K.’s GDP.
The effects of the glass ceiling on women and minorities are widespread. Only around 15% of corporate executives and board members are not white men, a result of issues of discrimination both subtle and institutional. Fighting against these issues should be a priority for any company, not just for the ethical imperatives but for the astounding benefits such an approach offers in return.
These benefits include:
- Enhanced financial success — Every 10% increase in gender diversity among U.K. executives brings with it a 3.5% increase in earnings, according to the McKinsey study.
- Greater ability to innovate — 56% of business executives strongly agreed that diversity helps drive innovation, as noted in a Forbes study.
- Better employee success, retention, and productivity — 43% of companies are engaged in efforts to improve retention and development of diverse talent, stated Forbes.
These benefits make an inclusive strategy a priority for any business looking to get ahead, and the HR department is uniquely positioned to make this possible. With the use of better hiring and employee management strategies, HR can promote inclusion for the success of a business and all its workers.
How HR Can Promote An Inclusive Workplace
If your workplace strategy focuses only on hiring individuals for the sake of meeting diversity quotas and appearances, you’re doing it wrong. This approach fails to emphasize the value of the individuals themselves. You can fill any position with any person, but the right fit will demonstrate the values your business is looking for while bringing a fresh perspective to the table.
HR’s approach to diversity should focus on inclusion rather than diversity for diversity’s sake. This means a supportive atmosphere in which employees are given the chance to be heard in a welcoming environment, an environment that combats exclusive language and practices.
Luckily, there are technological tools to help any HR professional succeed in this endeavour. However, nothing will be as effective as crafting an empathetic work environment that actively gives all workers the chance to shine.
Here are a few ways you can better promote inclusion as an HR professional:
Artificial Intelligence and Data
One of the most powerful tools for any HR professional in the modern age is artificial intelligence. With AI platforms, everything from hiring to the overall employee experience can be adapted to create a successful and thriving workplace.
- AI recruitment tools can filter out biases, matching jobs to candidates based on skillsets and qualities alone.
- Smart tech platforms allow for enhanced candidate experiences overall, improving talent fit and outreach potential.
- AI systems make it possible to easily scan and explore data trends for problematic practices.
Artificial intelligence can be the best friend of any HR professional. With its unique ability to analyze information and simplify processes, AI systems can match candidates faster based on talent. Properly integrated, this eliminates biases that might exist in resume filtering.
Additionally, AI can improve employee health, wellness, and opportunities through data monitoring of employee metrics. These tools can take note of behaviours indicating stress and safety concerns, problems that often come when a workplace isn’t sufficiently inclusive.
Finally, data tools and AI together offer the ability to address institutional trends in payment gaps and other exclusive behaviours. Through analyzing pay scales alongside employee information, smart software allows HR departments to see where problems exist so they can be addressed. Data analytics makes inclusion possible, enabling businesses to address the fact that women typically only make 81.1% of men’s median weekly earnings.
All the tech in the world is only as good as how it is applied, however. For a truly inclusive HR approach to business at all levels, professionals should maintain a commitment to empathy. This means approaching hiring and employee issues the way you would want your own information handled.
The first step in a comprehensively empathetic approach to human resources comes in the way you word job adverts. Common language patterns can discourage many potential candidates from applying, as these patterns represent intrinsic biases.
For example, adjectives like “assertive,” “ambitious,” or “decisive” on a job description all come with an inherent male connotation. This can lead qualified women away from applying, as they understand implicitly that such an advert is asking for male candidates. Across the U.K., efforts are being made to reduce gender-biased language. For example, the government’s trial of gender-neutral language in STEM apprenticeship adverts shows progress. HR professionals can help build on this progress by helping to eliminate gender bias in their own workplaces.
An inclusive HR strategy will make empathy its foundation. By attempting to put yourself in a candidate’s shoes, you can better craft workplace and hiring policies that ensure an inclusive workplace, free from the biases that keep many women and minorities from truly thriving where they are.
Understand the necessity of an inclusive—not just diverse—workplace, then integrate empathy into your use of data and software to build a welcoming, thriving business.