Diversity & Inclusion: 3 Proven strategies that actually work

Joe Caccavale

22

July

2020

|

4

min read

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Driving real change in diversity and inclusion can be an uphill battle.

Advocates tend to face limited budgets, minimal/ no dedicated team members and a distinct lack of data on what and how to change their organisation.

Even with all these limitations, change-makers are expected to make an immediate and tangible impact.

If you’re struggling to get off the starting block or see some real, measurable change, try these three tried-and-tested strategies for improving diversity and inclusion.

Some suggestions below were adapted from What Works: Evidence-Based Ideas to Increase Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace, which you can read in full here.

1. Track diversity data and set goals

You can’t change what you can’t measure.

You wouldn’t plan a new marketing campaign without deciding what metrics to track, so your diversity initiatives shouldn’t be any different.

Your D&I push will need goals and metrics.

Consider sharing these with stakeholders. Being held accountable may seem daunting, but will keep you on track.

A few basic diversity metrics to get started with:

  • Gender
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Age
  • Disability


If employees don’t feel comfortable sharing this - that’s okay, it should never be mandatory.

However, you should only be collecting this at an aggregate level, so let them know that this data will never be used to identify them.


Using this data, you can track…

  • How people progress through your hiring process - and any stages that might be disadvantaging a particular group.
  • How frequently cohorts get promoted or made redundant 
  • Any pay gaps

Once you have an idea of where the disparities are, you can set concrete goals to correct them.

The best goals are time-bound and realistic. 

If there’s a racial pay gap, for example, you could set a goal of improving this by X% over the next 2 years. 

2. Using a fairer hiring process

Here at Applied, we know a thing or two about de-biasing the hiring process.

Your standard hiring process is subject to unconscious bias (which we broke down the science behind here).

And as a result, those from minority backgrounds are disproportionately overlooked.

Rather than over-indexing on quotas and making your teams look more diverse, by focusing purely on ability, your diversity will improve as a bi-product.

This is true diversity - hiring people from a range of backgrounds with a range of perspectives. Not just diversity for diversity’s sake.

This can be achieved through blind hiring.

Full disclosure: this is what we do here at Applied.

Although it certainly does make it easier, you don’t need our platform to try blind hiring for yourself - we wrote this end-to-end guide to help you set up your own 'blind' process.

Spoiler: we don’t just recommend anonymising CVs. In fact, we did away with CVs entirely in favour of the most predictive forms of assessment that science has to offer.

By forgetting about education and experience, you’re essentially telling candidates that you genuinely don’t care about their background, so long as they can do the job.

3. Start small with a pilot

When dealing with issues of diversity and inclusion, there’s an urge to push for radical change.

However, you should probably resist that urge.

You need to identify the specific problem(s) before you can come up with solutions.

Copy+pasted diversity and inclusion initiatives don’t work because each organisation has a unique context with its own unique challenges.

D&I strategies have the potential not only to flop but they could even end up helping one group at the expense of another.

For example, efforts directed at women, in general, can result in advancing white women at the expense of women of colour.

Instead of wading in guns blazing, try piloting your initiates in a single team/ function before rolling them out company-wide.

This way, you can be sure that you’re fixing the right problem with the right solution and that the individuals affected are actually benefiting as you intended.

Aggregate data will help you track progress, but there’s something to be said for personal accounts. By starting out small, you have the opportunity to collect feedback from those you’re actually trying to help, rather than taking a big swing at the problem and seeing what happens.

From there, you can adjust and tweak based on the results and set suitable goals.


We started Applied to help teams improve diversity by de-biasing their hiring process. The Applied platform replaces CVs and standard, bias-based interviews with predictive, behavioural science-backed assessments to find the best person for the job, regardless of background. To find out more about how we do this, check out our resources, or go ahead and start your free trial.