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4 Steps to Embed Diversity & Inclusion Into Your Organization

Written By
Nicki Vera
Sr. Marketing Analyst

In the last few years, the HR world has seen a shift in perspective when it comes to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Countless studies have been conducted to research the impact that diverse and inclusive cultures have on a company’s goals, and the results have been clear: inclusive organizations consistently outperform their less inclusive equals, being twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets, three times as likely to be high performing, and up to eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes. In addition, with skill shortage being one of the main concerns for future growth, diversity and inclusion strategies offer significant benefits to be gained by widening the pool of potential talent company’s can tap into.

However, while D&I strategies keep gaining traction to this day, leading positions, coveted spots and boards across the globe continue to show a lack of diversity. A 2018 study by Deloitte expressed that women and minorities only made up 34 percent of all board seats in Fortune 500 companies, with only 145 of these companies showing over 40 percent diversity in their boards. Yes, it’s true that these numbers show an increase from previous studies (2010 showed only 54 companies reaching that target), but the truth is that this increase has come at a slow rate.

Research shows that while almost all companies recognize the benefits of a more diverse and inclusive workforce, it’s these same companies that acknowledge that they are unprepared to shift from diversity as a program to inclusion as a business strategy. This is not to say that they are not promoting D&I initiatives within their organizations: they are. But the bottom line is they lack the tools, technology and training necessary to build a highly inclusive workforce. In addition, the lack of structure and a concrete roadmap makes it difficult for them to track and enhance the performance of their existing initiatives, which in turn translates not only into an underperforming strategy but also brings with it all the associated potential costs – from brand erosion and loss of market will to costly lawsuits and employee turnover.

In short, boosting your company’s diversity & inclusion strategies isn’t just the right thing to do – it also offers financial benefits for your organization, access to a wider talent pool, and a chance to better reflect (and thus, satisfy) a growingly heterogeneous customer base.

However, getting started may seem daunting at first. So how can you do it?

Creating a More Diverse & Inclusive Workspace

First things first: while often pushed together, diversity and inclusion refer to two different things. On the one side, diversity touches upon establishing a workforce comprised by diverse talent, with “diverse” referring to anything from gender, ethnicity, age, background, etc. On the other side, “inclusion” speaks to a company’s ability to create a collaborative, supportive environment that enables all employees to contribute and participate equally, thus leveraging the impact of this diverse workforce.

In essence, while both are equally important, one without the other won’t work. Here are the top four ways you can embed diversity and inclusion in your workplace.

1) Keep Track of Your Diversity Initiatives

In order to implement a successful strategy, you first need to know about the current status of your workforce. Start by establishing the most relevant KPIs to measure your company’s D&I health and analyze where you are today and what goals you wish to achieve in the short, medium and long term.

This can mean anything from usual diversity metrics like age and gender all the way to the representation of different minorities by department and salary distribution among different groups. Once these are set, ensure that you leverage a robust analytics tool that allows you to tailor your reports to your needs as well as automatically share them with relevant stakeholders to be able to adjust your strategies in real-time.

2) Showcase Your Company’s D&I Efforts

In order to build a diverse talent pool (and thus, workforce), you need to show your candidates that your company is an inclusive, diverse and exciting place to work, where they will be able to thrive. Start by nourishing talent pools and social media channels with relevant D&I-related content, and make segmentation a key part of your process in order to truly target your prospects with content and invitations uniquely relevant to them. It’s important to look out for biased language both when crafting this content as well as when writing job descriptions and email campaigns, so as to not counteract your own efforts. In this regard, diversity focused events can go a long way into showing what your company is all about, and in these trying times, virtual events can also be a great way of closing the gap of social distance.

In addition, make sure your strategies don’t fall short by leading them to a landing page or career site that doesn’t follow the same line of communication you engaged them with in the first place. Tailor your career sites and landing pages to reach diverse candidates by telling them about your company’s initiatives, sharing D&I-related goals and metrics, and creating communities of diverse talent. You can even leverage the impact of a quote from your diversity officer or your CEO to further your point, and make it easy for them to sign up for new job alerts with attractive call to actions.

CBRE did just that – they knew that the APAC region was extremely diverse and they wanted their hiring practices in the market to reflect this. In 2018, they launched a number of targeted and carefully segmented email marketing campaigns aimed at boosting their sourcing efforts which they then tracked in relation to their Avature career site. This career site, in turn, featured a diversity section that encouraged candidates to apply by showcasing the company’s commitment to creating an inclusive workplace as well as a link to their D&I website.

These initiatives were well rewarded: with the combined impact of a powerful e-mail marketing strategy and tailored career sites, their sourcing efforts saw a 10 percent increase in applications from women, and they were able to gain insight into the behavior of their target audiences and adjust their strategies accordingly.

3) Acknowledge and Avoid Recruiting Bias

The hard truth about biases is that while recruiters or managers may think they’re approaching candidates with an open mind, people are biologically hardwired to align with those who look like them. This is not to say that that’s the end of the road – the key here is that overcoming biases begins with admitting they are there, and putting in place the necessary processes to disarm them. This can mean anything from diversity training for your teams to leveraging new recruiting methods like blind interviewing and anonymous applications to restrict the visibility of data that could inhibit inclusive hiring.

For example, a U.S. Food and Beverage combined a series of blind questions and a third-party assessment with a fully automated screening process, thus leveraging Avature to simplify the hiring of over 10K seasonal temp employees each year across the U.S. This allowed them to focus on evaluating the candidate’s specific skill set without eliminating the human touch from candidate screenings.

By implementing Avature’s automation tools, candidates applied on their career site where they completed a series of knock out questions, to move over to a weighted questionnaire for which they needed to achieve a certain minimum score to advance. They were then prompted to complete a third-party assessment that determined their proficiency, and if they moved to the next stage, they moved over to the in-person interview phase, the only non-machine generated step in the process.

4) Champion Mentorship Programs

Few programs are as effective as formal mentorship programs when it comes to boosting minority and female representation. The key for their success? Two words: employee engagement.

Mentoring opportunities mean enabling managers to become active agents in creating change within their company. This means that not only the mentee benefits from this initiative through learning, networking, support, working opportunities, etc., but the mentor becomes engaged, committed and invested in the success of the person they’re helping. In addition, the building of these relationships helps them disrupt bias against certain minorities they probably didn’t even know they were holding.

The key for a successful mentoring opportunity, though, lies in its structure and formality. While in many sectors and organizations white males may have an easier chance in finding mentors on their own, minorities and women have a harder time doing the same without the structure provided by a proper initiative championed by the company. Leveraging a talent management solution that allows you to formalize your mentorship initiatives and promoting this initiative will translate into a richer employee experience across the board. In addition, it will provide additional benefits such as accountability, the possibility for mentors and mentees to document useful information and, naturally, a chance for you to track and measure the results of your D&I initiatives.

To conclude…

Ensuring employees become top performers means not forcing them into a culture that doesn’t allow them to be themselves. In order to be truly effective, however, D&I must not be an isolated program or idea but must instead be fully-integrated into your TA and TM vision and tools, and be flexible enough to evolve alongside your organization. Creating not only a diverse but inclusive culture will make people feel valued and appreciated, which will in turn transform into higher engagement and compromise with the company’s operation.

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