In a world as advanced as ours, how diverse and inclusive are we in the workplace? Considering that an average person commits over 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime (according to Gettysburg College), why isn’t there a valid presence of equity?
For the past few months, we've been learning to analyze real-life situations and formulate realistic and convenient solutions. My team, including Madhureema Balasubramani Rupa., Zainab Ali, Krishna Patel, Prusti Patel, & Tulsi Amin, have invested our time in scrutinizing case studies that cover a wide range of topics connected to leadership and diversity. At this stage, we have all recognized a common ground where most workplaces stand: varying levels in the lack of inclusion located within a professional environment.
For many companies, this issue starts with their foundation: recruiting diverse employees. Some face the problem of not being able or willing to find varying talents beyond the common ones they already comprise at their workplace. So what can companies do to ensure that they’re searching effectively in the correct places? The first step to do so would be to broaden their basic understanding of diversity than just various cultures and races. There are other visible minorities such as veterans, autistic people, ex-offenders, LGBTQ+ people, ageing citizens, people with disabilities, etc. Thereafter, my team came up with several methods ranging from usage of technology to physical recruitment in order to reach out to these groups.
First and foremost, social media usage: reaching diverse audiences by communicating through social media accounts that visible minorities often interact with. While doing so, companies could also exhibit potential exclusive internships and scholarship opportunities. These would catch the eyes of the minority groups, for example, delinquents. While we are talking about communication channels, another solution my team has presented is expanding the places to where job listings are posted. This consists of posting applications on diversity-specialized job boards: Diversity Working, Hire Autism, Hire Purpose, Recruit Disability, 70 Million Jobs. However, one solution that we all think would be the strongest and influential would be “physical recruitment and representation". By this, we mean to say that companies should partner and affiliate with local organizations, institutions, events that include minorities. By doing this, a strong relationship will be formed, allowing minorities to gradually learn more about the company and its mission. Overall, whatever method the company may adopt, it is mandatory to have a deep, adamant intention to make the establishment inclusive and diverse. After all, our actions are a representation of our intentions.
Although traditional job recruitment methods are effective, it has tough competition against current technology-driven procedures when it comes to avoiding bias and partiality. Various approaches can be taken to leverage existing technologies or newly developed technologies with the intent of increasing the representation of visible minorities. Diversity hiring is hiring based on merit with special care taken to ensure procedures are free from biases related to a candidate’s age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and other characteristics that are unrelated to their job performance. Blind hiring (seen in the image below) is any technique that anonymizes personal information about a candidate from the recruiter, preventing unconscious or conscious bias about the candidate. This can be accomplished through software that anonymizes resumes by removing names, schools, and even addresses.
On the other hand, you can train your recruiters on how to avoid biases and also introduce a diverse interview panel. In fact, experts say that visible minorities are looking for their representatives on the interview panel to testify a company’s commitment to diversity. You can also increase your diversity hiring in your candidate shortlisting through the following techniques: ”two in the pool effect” and intelligent shortlisting. Research featured in Harvard Business Review found that when the final candidate pool has only one minority candidate, he or she has virtually no chances of being hired. However, if there are at least two minority candidates in the final candidate pool, the odds of hiring a minority candidate are 194 times greater. Hence, the “two in the pool effect.” Intelligent shortlisting or automated intelligence shortlisting includes installing software inside the ATS (Applicant Tracking System) and uses your resume database to learn about existing employees’ experience, skills, and other criteria. The shortlisting software then applies this criteria across all candidates, which reduces problems related to unconscious biases and accidental discrimination.
Moving on, advertisement is a very beneficial tool that can be used to your advantage if used properly. You can now utilize existing social networking sites, and diversity-specialized job boards to fish for potential candidates. Finally, the company's website can be deployed to gain a culturally diverse reputation for the workforce to inspire other people of the visible minority group and encourage them to step forward. Overall, it is important to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your current diversity hiring strategies, in order to choose the optimal metrics to leverage!
(Photo from https://resources.workable.com/tutorial/blind-hiring)
After adopting these strategies to ensure that incoming employees are diverse, it is just as important to confirm that the workplace is inclusive to sustain diversity. Similar to what we discussed in the job recruitment paragraphs, finding the problem in your foundation is vital. What is the point of creating an inclusive environment when no one truly understands the notion behind it? To repair this small yet critical mistake in their mindset, an ideal approach would be to ask the employees how they view the concept of inclusion at a workplace. Thereafter, specific means (provided by the employees) can be utilized to create the ideal atmosphere. Along with ideas from employees, taking small steps would also help: such as including a unisex bathroom, as well as, having accessible equipment for the workers, and special work equipment (chair/table/countertops) for the disabled.
Another simple, yet effective measure that can be put into action is promoting inclusion of culture through posters, billboards, infographics, and multimedia resources around the workforce. This will make the employees aware of the situation, and encourage them to be themselves, to create an inclusive setting, where everyone embraces their differences. In addition to long-term methods, an office diversity group can be created to ensure a comfortable/non-judgmental atmosphere where employees can talk to each other openly about their previous experiences regarding inclusion. Along with diversity groups, if there are unused rooms at the workplace, they can be converted to accessible rooms for employees, such as a room for workers to pray, or a nursery for pregnant employees.
Nonetheless, ensuring workers embrace their own and others' differences is vital, as it increases the overall work productivity.
On the whole, it is important to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your current diversity hiring strategies. It is to be noted that every workforce stands at varying levels of implementing inclusion, thus they must explore various techniques to adapt to their own environment. From then on you can choose the optimal metric to improve upon! In that case, where does your workplace stand in terms of inclusion and diversity? And how will you introduce change?