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10 Steps towards making your business more diverse

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Does your business have a Diversity and Inclusion programme?  If your answer is ‘no’, are you wondering why you should have one; what benefits there are; and how you should go about setting one up?

Principle is here to help!

Firstly, to address the ‘why’ question: why do you need to have a Diversity and Inclusion programme?

It is important to remember that the world and people are changing. As businesses, we need to adapt to keep relevant to attract and retain the best people. Employees need to feel a sense of belonging and value to perform at their best and help drive innovation and productivity.

People care deeply about LGBTI rights, accessibility issues, challenging racism, and building a more equal society – and they want their employers and their workplaces to care about these issues too.

We need a diverse workforce to bring new ideas, skills, and experience to our businesses. People are complex beings and – through a combination of their life experience, history and outlook – have lots of different offerings.

Promoting diversity and inclusion in your business can start with some simple steps:

  1. Become aware of your bias – what traits are your managers told to look out for at interview – are they looking for likeminded people who fit the criteria of the rest of the team?  Educate your managers to hire a qualified candidate who meets your needs, but brings a new perspective to the team.  Managers may have an urge to reject candidates based on their name, the school they attended, the area they grew up in, etc. as they feel they won’t be a cultural fit. Train your team to look past this bias and highlight the benefits of building a diverse team.
  2. Review the pictures and images you use on your website – are they geared towards a specific demographic, gender, cultural background? Can you include more diverse images?
  3. Audit your current employee data looking at gender, age, people of colour, etc. and set a quota you would like to achieve.  For example, if 90% of your Project Managers are men, set a quota to have 30% women on the team by Q4. Communicate this message to hiring managers, ensuring two qualified women are on the shortlist for an interview out of a total pool of six candidates. 
  4. Tailor the language you use in job ads. The language you use in your job advert can attract or repel potential candidates.  Research has shown that women generally won’t apply for roles with masculine coded wording such as ‘Outspoken’, ‘Decisive’, ‘Active’. Words that are considered to be feminine include ‘Understanding’, ‘Considerate’, ‘Polite’.
  5. Analyse your benefits and culture. Benefits such as a games room and free beer may attract a certain demographic, but equally may make others feel like they won’t belong if they don’t enjoy gaming / socialising / alcohol. Consider who you will attract – and who you will repeal – when deciding on your benefits package.
  6. Source candidates outside of your network. Typically, our network consists of people who are similar to us. Broaden your talent pool and look at new networks. This could include partnering with a college for entry-level hires, promoting your roles globally (considering applicants who may need a work visa), or considering hiring a candidate who is coming back to work after a long career break. Accept employee referrals from their diverse network.
  7. Celebrate and acknowledge each employee’s culture, for example acknowledging employee’s national celebration days such as the 4th of July (USA), Bastille Day (France) Chinese New Year (China) St Patrick’s Day (Ireland). Provide or encourage employees to bring in food they traditionally eat on these days.  
  8. Eradicate pay inequality. It demotivates employees. If you have two people doing the same job and on different rates of pay, the lower-paid person will feel excluded and not a valued member of your team.
  9. Communicate with your employees. Share the message that you are building a work environment and teams that are diverse. Explain the quotas you would like to meet and why.
  10. Hold inclusive meetings. Invite groups to share their views, ideas and concerns at meetings.  Send out an agenda beforehand to give less confident employees time to consider what they would like to say. Give everyone an equal chance to speak.

As a final step, once you have made progress on the points outlined above, include a Diversity Statement on your website to let potential and current employees know you do not discriminate and are an inclusive organisation.

The Business Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion

Research studies by Deloitte have shown that companies with a diverse workforce have a 35% increase in output. Diverse teams are 40% more engaged and have higher performance levels. Companies with greater diversity in the workplace have lower staff turnover levels and generally happier employees.

Diversity is not simply about the right thing to do – there are lots of commercial benefits, including:

  • Innovation: get the wheels of innovation and ideas churning with employees from varied backgrounds
  • Employee retention: attract candidates and get them to stay. Employees want to feel valued and have a sense of belonging.
  • Improved employee performance: ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to out-perform their peers
  • Capacity to reach new markets: have you considered what markets and customers you are not supplying to and why?

​While the commercial gains are certainly an added impetus, however, it is important that your motivation for establishing a Diversity and Inclusion programme is genuine. Your Diversity Statement must be authentic and true to your business’s wider ethos and goals. Any attempts to pay ‘lip service’ to this issue will be easily spotted by today’s savvy workforce.

If you are only starting out on developing a Diversity and Inclusion programme for your business, there are some great online resources that can help, such as those from Stacy Gordon and Stephanie Johnson.

We may never be completely free from bias but – through a genuine, effective Diversity and Inclusion programme – we can help ourselves and our businesses to improve.

If you are looking to partner with a recruitment agency who value and ensure diversity recruitment is free from bias in its process get in touch today with Principle.

Audrey Hughes
Careers at Principle