Steps to Attract and Hire Diverse Talent

Attract and hire diverse talent

Steps to Attract and Hire Diverse Talent

Many organisations today are struggling to attract and retain top talent. Diversity and Inclusion is an increasing priority and organisations are now starting to see this as a critical Talent Management issue. There are significant benefits of having a more diverse workforce including; innovation, collaboration and productivity.

A 2015 McKinsey study puts these benefits into concrete and sharp focus

1. Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.

2. Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.

3. In the United Kingdom, greater gender diversity on the senior-executive team corresponded to the highest performance uplift in our data set: for every 10 percent increase in gender diversity, EBIT rose by 3.5 percent.

Being a diverse employer has proven to be a powerful economic driver but some organisations are challenged to understand where to start their diversity efforts.

Here we look at 5 steps companies can do to attract and hire diverse talent:

Understand what you are trying to achieve.

Do you currently know why you want a more diverse workforce? It is important to understand exactly what you want to achieve. Having clear data on your current diversity profile and exactly what needs to change will help you to identify where you are going to concentrate your efforts. Do you need more women in your middle or senior management level? Do you believe you would benefit from hiring employees from diverse cultures?

Think about more progressive areas of diversity such as neurodiversity. Neurodiversity is the concept that humans don’t come in a one-size-fits-all neurologically “normal” package. Instead, it recognises that all variations of human neurological function need to be respected as just another way of being, and that neurological differences like autism and ADHD are the result of normal/natural variations in the human genome.

The software company SAP has committed to a goal to have 1 per cent of its workforce made up of those on the autistic spectrum by 2020 – reflecting the percentage of the global population that is autistic.

Gain Senior Leadership commitment for hiring a more diverse workforce

Creating a more diverse workforce cannot be an isolated approach or a series of one-off events. It must be linked to the overall business strategy and where possible a specific diversity and inclusion strategy for the business.

The Senior Leadership of the organisation must be clear about what the business benefits will be and tangibly provide support for Diversity and Inclusion efforts. This might also mean examining the profile for the Senior team and being open to change that over time.

Reduce or eliminate Unconscious Bias

Unconscious biases are learned stereotypes that are automatic, unintentional, deeply engrained, universal, and able to influence behaviour. Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their conscious awareness. These biases happen outside of our control, occur automatically and are triggered by our brain making quick judgments.

The universal truth is that we are all biased and many hiring decisions are fraught with bias. Even something which seems innocuous such as perceiving a candidate who went to university as being more able than a candidate who didn’t, will inevitably influence hiring decisions.

Biases are a barrier to hiring for diversity, but the challenge isn’t to get people to accept that they have them, but to get them to see how those biases can affect their decisions and prevent the organisation from having a diverse workforce.

Making people aware of their biases is the first step to unravelling unconscious bias because it not only allows you to realise that everyone possesses unconscious biases but assists you to identify your own. The second step is to identify how to check for bias in the recruitment and hiring processes and to challenge recruiter and hiring manager decisions to encourage hiring more diverse candidates.

Ensure that you can provide what diverse employees need

It is one thing to focus on hiring more diverse employees, but can your organisation meet and support the needs of these employees? For example, you may want to attract women returning to the workplace after spending time raising young children, but do you have the flexible work practices and policies to support this? Equally, you may wish to hire disabled candidates but is your workplace accessible?

It is not enough to think about the workplace itself. Is your recruitment and hiring process suitable for diverse candidates?  For example, candidates with autism or ADHD may not fit the standard employee profile that hiring managers look for due to non-typical social skills. However, they often have strong abilities in memory, or pattern recognition that can be extremely useful in careers requiring analytical skills.

Combine Diversity and Inclusion with culture fit

Recruiting and developing employees who fit neatly into a pre-defined culture is a common approach for organisations, but the downside is that it can create a one-dimensional workforce.

Assessing potential candidates for cultural fit is not always the way to go when hiring.  A recent Raconteur publication outlines that the issue is that managers who continue to recruit in their own image and remain focused on potential employees being a “cultural fit” will find their pool of talent to be limited and the culture of their working environment similarly constrained.

To build dynamic teams with fresh ideas, managers need to remain open to things they aren’t familiar with. There is no doubt that a myriad of benefits ranging from better ideas and innovation to greater levels of productivity result from hiring a diverse workforce.

Mary Lynch

Mary is a senior consultant with over 16 years’ experience. Mary specialises in the areas of Organisational Development, Change Management, Performance Management, Leadership and Coaching.

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