Diversity is not a new concept, despite what the front pages would have us believe. It is not a bandwagon to be jumped on. In the recruitment industry, huge strides have been made over many years in promoting diversity and it is very much at the forefront of our clients’ minds.
Diversity is not really about ticking boxes, fulfilling a quota or being politically correct. Although it is important for your business to be seen to be diverse, it doesn’t just mean having a token female on the board or a BAME face in your marketing campaign. There are real, tangible benefits for your business’s bottom line too.
Diversity genuinely enables companies to build the most dynamic, productive, engaged, and profitable workforces, rich in cultural insight, from backgrounds of all kinds of abilities, races, ages, genders, beliefs and socioeconomic statuses. After all, your business ought to be representative of your customer base.
Diversity also means inclusivity; when you have a workforce of people from all walks of life working together, feeling included and valued and using their voices, you get an increase in creativity. A broader spectrum of influences and ideas can come together to make a real difference to the output of your business in a way that putting a homogenous group of people together will never do.
In a nutshell:
- Employees want to believe in their company and have pride in the ethics, morale codes and values
- Diversity is important for your CSR and public perception
- Diversity allows you to hire the best talent, you may otherwise have missed
- Diversity increases your talent pool of potential employees
- Diversity drives new ideas, creativity and balance in companies
The most salient perspective on diversity came from an Arrows client and female CEO who said that what she really wants is not “more women in the business, but the knowledge we are hiring the best people no matter their gender.” This goes for race and ethnicity too.
Tush Wijeratne, EMEA Engineering CoE Talent Acquisition Lead – Sapient Publicis, confirms this view, “It’s not about enhancing diversity, it’s about levelling the playing field”.
Why is the current climate so key?
The current changing landscape of working conditions brought about by the COVID-19 crisis should have a hugely positive outcome in driving diversity.
The proven ability to work from home, more flexible hours, advancements in tech across the board in support of remote working and connectivity; it all enables diversity in allowing more companies to hire more parents, disabled workers and those who care for others. We’ve also developed a greater understanding and tolerance for varying ways of working and acceptance of each other’s lives.
So how do you drive diversity in your business?
Creating diversity and non-bias in a business takes consistency, buy-in and long term, sustainable planning.
- Support internal focus groups
- Create long term strategies that are easy to embed, and make sure that people see the value
- Support Pride Week; be proactive in internal messages around important historic events
- Encourage employees to give time back to local schools and colleges
- Offer 4-week programmes to give people from diverse backgrounds a chance to experience the working environment (often enabling you to meet and hire talent you might not otherwise)
- Change your mindset when it comes to developing potential. Rather than looking for employees with 100% fit, look for employees with 60% fit who are willing to learn:
- Hire people from different education backgrounds, for example, someone who studied history can learn development (STEM)
- People might not have traditional further education, but very high potential to learn