You’re Probably Addressing Workplace Diversity All Wrong. Here’s What You Should Be Doing Instead by Brad Wayland
These days, it seems as though inclusiveness is the golden goose for human resources, particularly those operating in technology. The problem is that most businesses go about it in entirely the wrong way, falling into toxic traps like hiring quotas and tokenism. This needs to change.
How does that phrase make you feel? If you’re anything like me, not great. For one, it’s dehumanizing, reducing a new employee down to a single label, ignoring everything else about their accomplishments and who they are as a person.
You’re hiring them because of a quality over which they have no control rather than because of what they can do.
You’re no longer hiring Kristin the Data Scientist, who graduated with top marks from Stanford. She’s Kristin the woman. You aren’t hiring Greg the Marketing Director, with over ten years of experience and a master’s in Marketing Science from Columbia. You’re hiring Greg the black man. You’re not hiring Lucas because he graduated from New York University and worked on Wall Street. You’re doing it because he’s gay, and you have a quota to fill.
You get the idea.
“I’m a dream hire for most technology companies,” writes Jori Ford, Senior Director of Content and SEO at peer-to-peer G2 Crowd. “In an industry dominated by white, straight males, a lesbian with both black and Korean heritage checks a lot of boxes. And that’s the problem. In response to the demand for more diverse hiring practices, technology firms have resorted to quotas that ultimately miss the point.”
But isn’t it admirable to seek out men and women who are traditionally underrepresented in your industry?
Yes, but you need to be doing it for the right reasons. Not to fulfil some bogus corporate initiative or make your business look better in the eyes of investors and customers. And not with a focus that begins and ends at hiring and retention.
You should hire someone underrepresented because they might bring a unique perspective to your workplace. You should hire them because discrimination is harmful to everyone, at every level of a business. But most importantly, you should do it if you genuinely believe they’re the best candidate for the job.
There’s another angle to this whole conversation, as well. Simply bringing in a diversity hire will not make your workplace more diverse. Diversity requires that your organization rethink its values and mission. Here’s how:
• Work within your organization to find out what preconceptions your people hold about others, and why. Negative stereotypes do not develop in a vacuum, and challenging them is the first step to fostering greater inclusiveness.
• Look at your employees as people rather than resources, and ensure your colleagues do the same. Empathic leadership, as noted by tech publication CIO, is at the core of inclusiveness.
• Make diversity an ongoing effort rather than a single initiative, and focus on retention as well as hiring. Culture is not something that can be changed overnight, nor can inclusiveness be assured by handing out a few pamphlets.
• For the hiring process, consider implementing a blind evaluation phase. Your hiring department will look exclusively at each candidate’s credentials, without knowing anything else about their identity.
When you hire someone to fulfil a quota or simply for the sake of having a more diverse workplace, you’re putting the cart before the horse. Diversity and inclusiveness aren’t something that can be automated, nor can they be dealt with through spreadsheets. Understanding that is the only way you’ll make your workplace genuinely inclusive.
Brad Wayland is the Chief Strategy Officer at BlueCotton, a site with high-quality, easy-to-design custom t-shirts.
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To find out how we can tailor our services to match your recruitment needs, including reducing selection bias, click here.
Does your business have a recruitment plan? Sensible preparation could help you over the line in the dash for talent as we find ourselves in a candidate-short market.
New research by the Korn Ferry Institute predicts a major recruitment crisis with a significant future shortage of skilled workers. The study estimates that by 2030 the global talent shortage could reach 85.2 million people, costing companies trillions in lost business opportunities.
The United States financial services sector is projected to suffer the most, while European financial centres, like the UK and Germany, could struggle to retain their global positions due to the looming skilled-talent shortage.
Strategic action to address this is essential and it should start now. Business leaders who move talent acquisition to the top of their agenda will be in the best position to compete for scarce talent in the future.
In this article, I’ll be looking at what businesses can do to attract talent in a candidate-light market.
Agency recruitment isn’t always all it is cracked up to be. For a start, how can an agency know everything about your business? Deciding who should handle your recruitment isn’t an easy decision and there are pros and cons for seeking talent yourself or using an outside recruiting team that is dedicated to looking after your recruitment needs.
One of the biggest arguments for keeping recruitment in-house is to avoid huge recruitment fees. Mike Knivett, MD at Artemis Marketing, found using external agencies costly and not always successful in finding exactly the right candidate.
“We decided to bring recruitment in-house and hired a specialist on a part-time basis to help us. Since our recruitment specialist, Caroline, has been on board we have successfully recruited some amazing people who are exactly the right fit for us. Caroline has been able to work closely with us to really understand our culture and business needs.”
If you do decide to use an agency, it is a good idea to partner with one that has a high level of specialism suited to your business needs. This should at least ensure you get access to the right pool of talent. By working with the same recruiter, they can also get to know you and your business and ensure that there is a good cultural fit, in addition to having the right skills and experience.
Social media is being used like never before in the race to find talent. Building your reputation online is by far the easiest way to reach the talent pool of the future. Millennials and Gen Z will soon become the biggest cohorts in the labour market.
Both groups embrace social media as their main form of communication. Millennials tend to use Facebook and Instagram, while Gen Z also uses Instagram, they also watch YouTube and communicate via Snapchat. Be mindful though, that social media is great for communication and establishing your brand, but not always as a stand-alone job advertising media.
See more about how Millennials and Generation Z use social media here.
70% of respondents to a Global Human Capital Trends survey by Deloitte cited recruitment as a critical issue when it comes to effective growth. High rates of employee-initiated turnover, low unemployment and the accelerating adoption of automation, which is creating intense demands for technical skills that don’t exist in today’s workforce, are making the job of finding qualified talent harder.
If talent shortage predictions are true, businesses will need a robust training and development programme to teach the skills they need in business. In fact, there are already enough talent shortages across more than 500 recognised skillsets to warrant adopting a fresh approach to attracting and retaining staff.
Internal talent mobility isn’t a new idea, but it is an area that isn’t tapped enough. According to Deloitte, reskilling an internal hire can be done for as little as one-sixth of hiring an external candidate. Emphasizing internal promotions illustrates to your employees they have a future in your business. This will go a long way in addressing the talent shortage and improve staff retention.
The national apprenticeship program and levy are all designed to encourage businesses to recruit ‘out of education’ and look outside of the obvious skillsets, in order to address similar issues. Expect to see this type of strategy become central to most larger organisations growth plans in the future.
You may not realise it, but your employees are an untapped resource when it comes to finding new talent. Your employees have an established network of friends and associates. They understand your business and are in a position to filter potential recruits to you with the appropriate skills and competencies. This could be one of your best recruiting tools.
Your business will only become a magnet for talent if potential candidates hear good things about you. Salaries are no longer enough in isolation to entice the best people. Talented individuals are looking for companies with a strong and positive culture.
Things like Corporate Social Responsibility, business ethics and a caring and supportive environment are increasingly important and often mean more than salary. Wellbeing programs and robust learning and development opportunities are also on the list of must-haves that candidates are looking for in a company.
The future shortage of talent isn’t an industry-specific problem. Whatever your business, whatever the sector, you should be identifying business strengths to ensure you can attract candidates ahead of your competitors. You will, of course, also need to work hard at retention strategies too, which means an increasing focus on culture.
Ignore the recruitment problem and your business will suffer. The digital age means businesses with poor culture are being exposed like never before.
Annie Button is a Portsmouth based writer and recent graduate. Annie has written for various online and print publications, she specialises in business, Recruitment and career development’.
More articles by Annie Button
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