Does Your Recruitment Process Allow For Diversity?

Businesses are effectively a way to bring together the strengths of a group and use them to their best advantage while balancing out each other’s weaknesses. It makes sense then that diversity in the workforce has a positive effect on the success of your business. A study by Forbes highlights this positive effect; in surveying the executives of 321 companies reporting $500 Million or more in annual turnover, 85% agreed that diversity was the key to driving innovation.
Having said this, the subject of diversity is a tricky one, and a poorly managed diversity initiative can result in exclusion, workplace bullying, and discord amongst employees.
There are several areas of your business that you will have to examine; the first being your company culture, the second being your hiring process and its results, and the third being the employees’ initial experience of your company.

The Positive Effects of Diversity

Companies with genuine diversity initiatives in place are becoming more successful than their counterparts. In fact, according to a report from The American Sociological Association, “For every percentage increase in the rate of racial or gender diversity up to the rate represented in the relevant population, there was an increase in sales revenues of approximately 9 and 3 percent, respectively”. In other words: if your company’s diversity levels reflect your target market, you will see an increase in profits.
Having a broad and varied pool of knowledge and experiences makes an innovative company which can anticipate the needs of customers more accurately, due to a more adaptable company culture.

Types of Diversity

The word ‘diversity’ in a business context brings to mind stock images of smiling people from different demographics, drawing a cheesy image of ‘everyone working together’. This is a reductionist perception of what diversity is about, which is why many business managers lose out when it comes to creating a diverse workforce.
Diversity is more than different race or gender. It is different experiences and variable approaches to problem-solving and communication skills. When you stop looking at diversity in a superficial way, you can approach successfully creating and managing a diverse workforce.
According to the Harvard Business Review, there are two types of diversity. The first, inherent diversity, includes aspects of a person that they are born with, such as gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. The second, acquired diversity, is the result of work and life experience, giving you insight into different ways of doing and seeing things. This holistic ‘two dimensional’ diversity is what results in business success.

How to Make Your Hiring Process ‘Diversity Friendly’

Creating a successful, diverse workforce requires effort to avoid the many pitfalls of hiring. Simply saying ‘we want to hire a diverse range of employees’ won’t result in a healthy diverse company. You have to ensure your team understands what you mean by diversity and put in place systems that encourage, rather than discourage it.
Here are some tips on how to avoid repelling desirable candidates and create a hiring process that encourages diversity in an authentic way.
Take Inventory of Your Recruitment Process
A diverse workforce doesn’t just ‘happen’. Habits, subconscious bias, and prejudice will mould your company culture unless you have the appropriate processes in place. Here are some points to consider when performing an audit on your hiring processes, from your job ad through to your onboarding process and beyond.

Are You Aware of Patterns In Your Hiring Cycle?

Have you taken note of patterns in your staffing problems and solutions? Do you have records of who applies for jobs, who gets interviews, and who gets hired? Are you aware of any patterns with regard to employee turnover or the average length of employment with your company? If not, you should perhaps make it a goal over the next 6 months to collect data relating to your employees. This data will allow you to get a good idea of where your hiring process is preventing rather than encouraging diversity and will show you where you need to focus your efforts.

Plan Ahead – Strategise Your Hiring Process

To create a hiring process that encourages diversity, you will have to plan out all the steps and processes involved, right down to interview questions asked and who is asking them.
• Identify the most important aspects of the role and use these as a focus to help create your questions.
• Take stock of your job ad – scan it for any language that creates barriers for specific groups of people. Emphasise flexibility and willingness to accommodate an individual’s needs if it means they get the job done – avoid using gendered or ableist language.
• Plan your selection strategy – do you remove names from all CVs before sifting through them? There are countless stories of people with ‘ethnic’ names finding their name is a huge factor in missing out on callbacks. In fact, in one study, applicants with ‘western’ names received 50% more callbacks than those with ethnic ones.
• Decide on your interview questions – have a list of pre-planned questions you have come up with to ensure every candidate is treated in the same way. Obviously, during the interview you may veer off the list at some points, but your goal is to collect information about candidates that is directly comparable, so bear this in mind.
• Have a Hiring Panel – people perceive and observe differently, and having a panel of people present in the interview allows the candidate to be judged more holistically.
• ‘Shop’ your Hiring Panel – work with those involved in the interview process to encourage them to be aware of their personal biases and prejudices, so that they have as little effect on their selection process as possible.

How Do You Onboard New Employees?

It’s one thing to create a hiring process that encourages diversity, but if you don’t have an encouraging, inclusive environment for them to step into, you will find your hiring process becomes a revolving door (albeit a diverse one). One study found that businesses with effective onboarding processes reported 25% improvement in employee retention rates, highlighting the importance of thinking carefully about how you bring in new team members.
Successful onboarding has both a formal ‘this is what our business is about and this is the paperwork we need’ aspect, and an informal ‘this is how things are around here’.
If you reduce your onboarding to a simple orientation process of ‘this is your desk, these are the people you answer to, here are your forms, here are the wifi passwords’, you are essentially isolating the ‘newbie’ and increasing the length of time it will take them to settle in and get up to speed with their output.
Another way many hiring managers do themselves a disservice with their hiring process is by creating a one-size-fits-all template that allows no accommodation for individual needs. This will alienate those who it does not suit, resulting in employees abandoning roles prematurely, or not working to their full potential due to a level of discomfort in their working environment.

Onboarding Tips

For your onboarding process to successfully bring new hires into the fold, it needs to be strategic, flexible, and engaging.
• Onboarding is more than just orientation. It’s about bringing new hires into the fold and helping them successfully adjust to their role.
• Don’t tell the newbie about your company culture, show them.
• Arrange an opportunity to meet the whole executive team, not just those who they will work with.
• Adjust workload expectations to prevent new employees from feeling overwhelmed and allow them to observe the daily mechanics of the office. Whilst some employees may pride themselves in being able to hit the ground running, giving them time to acclimatise will result in improved output and morale in the long run.
• When introducing your newest staff member, mention particular strengths or skills – use this opportunity to ‘sell’ them to the rest of your employees.
• Schedule ongoing opportunities to give and receive feedback. Provide new employees with constructive feedback and encourage them to be forthcoming with their own.
• Keep the process flexible, don’t just assume that what would work for you will work for someone else. Ask how you can help them adjust – different employees will have different needs when it comes to acclimatising.

So, Regardless of how you structure your onboarding activities, remember the goal is to provide support that will result in confident, competent employees who provide value to your company and feel valuable too. With benefits including decreased employee turnover, increased employee satisfaction and productivity, and improved profitability, what are you waiting for?