Anyone who has experienced the benefits of diversity knows that it is more than just a buzzword. When done right, diverse and inclusive organisations are not just doing what’s important and right – they also tend to noticeably outperform their competitors, with companies ranking in the top quartile of board diversity having 53% higher ROEs than those in the bottom quartile. Therefore, it’s a clear case of what’s good for the community is also good for the bottom line…
Practical strategies for every business
So, what’s the next step when you’ve decided that your organisation should lead the pack in this area? What are some of the most practical and effective ways to promote equality and diversity in the workplace? In this article, we’re moving from the concept of diversity to the intricacies of making it happen, so let’s dive in.
Improve everyone’s cultural competencies
One of the biggest challenges in implementing diversity and equality is that many organisations overlook current team members. Instead, all the focus is on finding new hires that meet a set of criteria, which can create a situation where tokenism occurs rather than real change.
After all, a seed planted in the wrong soil won’t grow, and so the right place to start is within your organisation. Everyone at every level of the organisation needs to be open to developing their cultural awareness, knowledge, and communication skills – and they need to be on board with making changes.
While some organisations recommend unconscious bias training, we think that this approach doesn’t work.
While it does seem to generate a reduction in implicit bias, this effect is short-term and appears to wear off. Even worse, these training programs can make explicit bias worse, making people feel resentful, defensive, and resistant to training. In a study of 829 companies spanning 31 years, it was shown that bias training has no positive effects on the average workplace. That’s why we take the approach of changing the environment rather than focussing on individual people.
By creating spaces and processes that remove the possibility of bias by design, key elements such as hiring, onboarding, and day-to-day work life are less likely to become susceptible to unconscious bias.
Did you know that job descriptions are often teeming with biased language that your talent pool? Find out how you can counter this with our job description analysis tool.
Make it a continual process
To achieve the full benefits of diversity, workplace cultures need to be flexible, welcoming and encompassing rather than restrictive or single-minded. This means that inclusivity programs need to be continuous, strongly supported, and uncompromising when it comes to foundational values. This constant effort delivers exceptional rewards for transforming your organisational culture and seeing the benefits of a work environment that represents a wide range of cultures and beliefs.
This means that it cannot be treated as a one-off or promotional strategy – a course to cross off or pass - but a dynamic pathway to growth that’s goal-orientated and actively supported. Because it may be a very new or unfamiliar path for employees, these measures must become an everyday means for supporting change, creating a welcoming and open workplace culture, and attracting the right talent. At no point should your diversity and equality programs end or be completed – instead they should only evolve and adapt as your organisation grows.
Solid programs to consider include mentorship programs run by people of diverse backgrounds to provide employee support and promote career development, the creation of safe and inclusive spaces at work (for example, prayer spaces) and being flexible on traditional holidays. Of course, your hiring process should be included here too. This should be continually reviewed so that there are minimal opportunities for bias (e.g. over-reliance on educational background or unstructured interviews - which are in essence a breeding ground for affinity bias).
Implementing workplace diversity and inclusion metrics
Because there’s such a strong business case for diversity, part of promoting a more inclusive and diverse workplace means measuring the overall progress and success of your initiatives. This means looking at metrics such as those listed below:
- The ratio of diverse job applicants to hires (ideally, the diversity of your applicants should be equally reflected in your hires)
- The average retention period compared across gender and ethnicity lines
- The diversity of teams across different levels and departments within your organisation
- Staff engagement and wellbeing
- Tracking salary and bonus metrics across gender and ethnicity lines
It’s worth mentioning that some of these metrics are easier to track than others. Human resources departments can gather this type of data from a variety of sources such as anonymous surveys, promotions and commissions and finally onboarding and exit interviews. You can find more actionable ways to measure organisational diversity here.
Utilise anonymous hiring
Finally, let’s look at hiring – the place where many organisations start their journey. As we’ve already covered, most of us have inherent implicit associations, biases and cultural boundaries which may never be fully overcome. So, while we work on these challenges in the ways mentioned above, how can we prevent them from interfering with diversity goals moving forwards?
One way to do this that delivers short and long-term results is to use anonymous hiring (also known as blind hiring) to support your recruitment and hiring practices. This can be achieved by removing personal characteristics such as name, age and gender, as well as any background information such as educational background. This ensures that candidates are selected based purely on their skills and abilities.
Applied is a debiased hiring platform designed to help drive true, meaningful diversity in the workplace. Our scientific approach is based on finding the best person for the job - something that we can all agree is essential. We’re here to take on the twin challenges of inefficient, unethical hiring practices through a technology that eliminates the potential for bias. By basing our strategy on merit alone, organisations can rest assured that you are accessing 60% more quality candidates, reducing time spent interviewing unsuitable candidates by 66% and hiring candidates that show a 93% retention rate after one year.
At Applied, we address all sides of the diversity and inclusion hiring challenge. This includes maintaining a balanced pipeline in terms of gender, which you can see on the best diversity job boards for gender, and attracting the best talent from all cultures through the best diversity job boards for ethnic diversity.