Workplace diversity: Why it is crucial and how tech can help
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Workplace diversity: Why it is crucial and how tech can help

Workplace diversity: Why it is crucial and how tech can help

Diversity is more than just a problem for the Oscars, writes Tommy Lai

Workplace diversity: Why it is crucial and how tech can help

Employers increasingly view diversity as a key element in driving success. Technology advancements make it easier than ever to improve diversity levels and reduce discrimination.

Studies show a clear link between increased workforce diversity and better revenue and sales performance. Plus, beyond any financial measures, it carries significant benefits, including enhanced retention rates of your talent and greater connectivity to your customer base.

However, many organisations still struggle to achieve a completely diverse workplace.

Why is a diverse workforce necessary?

Organisations in general are getting increasingly more efficient when it comes to unbiased recruiting, but it is not all positive news. Research shows that there are only six ethnic minorities in the United Kingdom’s top 268 leadership roles across the most prominent public bodies outside government and local authorities. Plus, while 51 per cent of the UK population are women, there are only 23 per cent of females at board level.

Increasing gender diversity by just 1 per cent will boost your bottom line by 3 per cent. This is also true for a 1 per cent rise in race equality, but three times the difference, as it will increase your revenue by 9 per cent.

Diversity not only plays a major role in creating a forward thinking and proactive organisation, but it also has an impact on brand reputation and success.

There are 189 different nationalities in the UK, 17 per cent are black and minority ethnic. This number is set to rise to 20 per cent by 2021. Recent statistics show that diverse groups outperform non-diverse groups in an employment situation, so it’s becoming increasingly important to attract a diverse workforce.

At the moment one in six of the working population in the UK is from an ethnic minority or non-white background. Collectively they boast a spending power of £300bn, making it clear to see just how much a brand could lose if their recruitment process is not engaging and inclusive of all cultures and beliefs.

In a similar vein, 20 per cent of working adults in the UK have a disability of some description, yet many application processes do not take this into account, losing out on the £120bn market.

Right now, diversity recruiting in many organisations mostly relies on users knowing what to do, rather than enabling better diversity recruitment through technology. But technology and more specifically blind recruitment is taking away the opportunity for mistakes to be made.

How tech can help

Technology is making it easier than ever to improve diversity levels and reduce discrimination, through providing greater transparency and insight. It also stops organisations missing out on top talent, who have a disability that might hinder them during the recruitment process. When an organisation adopts innovative technology and practices at the forefront of the talent’s journey, they will automatically gain better insight.

They can see what’s happening at different stages of recruitment, learn how candidates are reviewed by different departments and review how those candidates progress through the recruitment process. Recruitment technology can monitor job offer rates by specific interviewers, allowing you to uncover conscious and unconscious bias.

Recruitment technology enables the application process to be fully anonymous up to the interview stage, only allowing recruiters and managers to see information relevant to the task at hand.

For instance, in the cases where screening is based on competency questions, recruiters can only access candidates’ answers to these questions, and nothing else, focusing selection on merit not ethnicity, gender or other potentially affecting factors.

Remaining information is made available to recruitment teams as and when it is required. Additional information including personal details is typically automatically non-anonymous at the interview stage, which ensures the interview can take place as usual.

Companies increasingly recognise the need to adapt recruitment processes to avoid alienating certain groups.

Why isn’t everyone up to speed?

Companies often face significant resistance from within to change. Moving online is a huge step and many employees feel that the way they work is fine, therefore not buying into the whole process. On occasion these workers feel that the technology is replacing them or see integrating a new system as a sign that they are not trusted to make an unbiased and fair decision.

Diversity is also still viewed as a taboo subject. People need to start talking about potential disabilities that might impact the interview process at the earliest possible stage. Candidates need to alert the employer as soon as the online recruitment systems allows, and the employer must be as accommodating as possible, adjusting the interview stage to the candidate’s needs.

So many people are worried about saying the wrong thing or asking an inappropriate question that they simply avoid the whole situation. Effective communication is the cornerstone of recruitment, thus the new tools help improve the process.

The last word

If you fail to show diversity in your choices you too will be at the wrong end of an Oscars-style diversity storm. The process never ends. The Oscars problem might not be a quick fix, but it is similar to the recruitment process, in that we always need to analyse and review and strive to improve.

From a recruitment point of view it is also important to remember that no one tech vendor can solve all the business or diversity problems in HR and recruiting.

It’s about picking a whole set of solutions, integrating different software, and pulling it together to create an overall picture that looks right for your organisation and your candidates. The war for diverse talent is on and you better be ready to up your game.

Tommy Lai is marketing director at WCN


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