Authored by Rob Symons, GM EMEA at SmartRecruiters
In 2022, many businesses are making conscious attempts and strides toward creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce but, there is still a long way to go.
74% of millennial employees believe that their organization is more innovative when it has a culture of inclusion, but there is an employment rate of just 62.8% for ethnic minorities in the UK.
There is clearly a disconnect between the value that employees and the business itself place on D&I, but how important is it really?
Creating the best company culture
There are many benefits to having a more diverse group of employees. One main benefit is the increase in positive employee experience and company culture.
For prospective job seekers, 3 in 4 say that looking at the diversity of a company is important when deciding to accept a job offer. Creating an inclusive working environment helps to attract prospective employees and engage with top talent best suited to your company.
Inclusive businesses are also far more productive and profitable. Inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders and make better business decisions twice as fast. A diverse workforce brings new ideas, experiences and attitudes to life and allows for creativity and productivity to thrive.
Furthermore, companies with such a positive and welcoming work culture are more likely to see high levels of employee retention. 83% of Millennials are actively engaged in their work when companies foster a more inclusive work environment according to research from Deloitte. Employees who feel valued in their job and are given the space to work productively within a team with similar work ethics are likely to stay at their job for longer.
So, where are businesses going wrong, and how can they rectify these issues?
Diversity isn’t designated
One of the mistakes that businesses make is jumping on the back of diversity celebration months and days such as Pride Month, Black History Month, and International Women’s Day. Placing special emphasis on such months can risk alienating the groups that these months celebrate, as they feel that they only matter for a specific select period.
It is great to see these celebrations being more widely recognised, with the time taken to help others understand and learn more to help break down barriers. However, businesses need to continue this throughout the year, not just follow the crowd for certain months. For instance, 30% of LGBTQ+ employees report having experienced at least one form of employment discrimination, it is therefore imperative that efforts are made to stop this from happening throughout the year, not just during Pride month. The same can be said for other national months.
Businesses need to make sure they are making concerted efforts and strides toward celebrating diversity within their business throughout the year, not just during specific periods. The result will be a more inclusive culture for all employees.
Building up Diversity Brand Equity
One of the first steps toward attracting diverse talent is to adopt Diversity Brand Equity. This is the ability to allow underrepresented candidates to see themselves working for you through various brand interactions.
By investing in your Diversity Brand Equity, you are giving your organisation a powerful competitive recruitment advantage, one that improves your organisation’s ability to prioritize attraction, accessibility, and positive interactions. All these priorities will help companies move towards creating a better candidate experience and encourage a diverse range of potential talent to apply for roles.
One way that this can be implemented is through the language and imagery businesses use in their job advertisements. Ensuring job postings are easily accessible and approachable to all and not directed to a certain demographic is important. In addition, the interview process should do the same as both stages, alongside other interactions, help to build up a positive candidate experience. The more inclusive these touch points are, the easier it becomes for historically excluded applicants to picture themselves thriving at your company.
This aspect of moving towards a more diverse culture should not be taken on by just the D&I team alone. It should be a highly strategic partnership between the D&I team, talent acquisition team, marketing teams, and hiring managers. However, unfortunately, only one-quarter of employees report that their organizations have these teams working closely together more than half of the time. To build up an inclusive workforce, fundamental changes are required in the way teams within organisations work together.
Breaking down bias with AI
Helping promote a more inclusive workforce starts from the first interactions employees have with their potential employers. Starting at the recruitment phase is key in building up a diverse workforce.
Adopting Artificial Intelligence (AI) within a modern Applicant Tracking System (ATS) can help eliminate recruitment bias. Consciously or unconsciously, every individual will have their ideas and opinions on people’s backgrounds and experiences. This leads to perfectly capable applicants being brushed over or rejected. However, with AI, there is no analysis of demographic information such as gender, race, age, or sexuality.
Organisations implementing a bias-free recruitment processes by utilising AI-based recruitment systems, will start to see a change in business diversity efforts and create a more inclusive company culture.
Laying the foundations
There are many ways that employers can help create a more diverse workforce but fundamentally, the company mindset needs to change.
D&I efforts need to be at the forefront of employers’ minds, and business decisions should be made with this as a priority. Ensuring all business operations from recruitment to day-to-day life are there to help promote inclusivity, will ensure diversity becomes part of your company culture.
Utilising technology such as AI within the recruitment process is one of the main ways biases can be stamped out from the outset. Reassuring applicants that nothing apart from their skills for the job are being judged will create a positive candidate experience and encourage them to feel welcomed within the company.