Now, there are no excuses for businesses not to have a diverse workforce. Aside from being ‘the right thing to do’, employing a team that reflects all ages, abilities, genders and races, invites diverse perspectives, better decision-making and greater opportunities for professional development and, of course, increasing profitability.
Yet attracting diverse candidates and supporting them to become permanent employees is no mean feat. That’s why, Richard Hughes and Alex Macfadyen, Senior Recruitment Consultants in the ESG, Sustainability and ClimateTech Division at recruitment agency Intervl, share how businesses can increase workforce diversity, and why it should be at the top of every company’s agenda.
Becoming a diverse and inclusive employer
Before businesses can focus on diversifying their teams, they must first ensure they’re approaching the task in the correct way. Hughes says: “It’s imperative for leaders to have an inclusive mindset, to ensure any preconceived bias is removed. This will enable the application process to be accessible to everyone while ensuring each candidate is assessed equally against a specific skill set criteria – no matter their ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender or background.”
Although there are many different ways to achieve this, there’s not a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Instead, business leaders must explore what works best for them, their organisations and the employees they want to attract.
One of the first crucial steps is to become an Equal Opportunity Employer – and to boast about it. An Equal Opportunity Employer is one that has committed to a policy of treating its employees and job applicants fairly and equally, meaning they reject discrimination at every level.
Likewise, the way in which application forms are written and formatted is equally important. “The application stage should be simple and easy to follow, while catering to all individuals,” Macfadyen says. “It should also only include the necessary information for that opportunity — to avoid overcomplications.
“To add an extra layer of care, businesses should review blind CVs – a CV that doesn’t contain any form of identification – while also utilising a diverse interviewing panel, with different types of interviews, such as telephone interviews, skill-based assessments and face-to-face interviews.
“Hiring managers should also be given a checklist of questions to ensure all of these factors have been taken into consideration, ensuring each candidate has an equal opportunity to showcase their skills and experience in an environment that best suits them. With this in mind, any reasonable adjustments relevant to that interview format should be considered. For example, whether candidates have any disability, meaning they require extra reading time or additional support to access the office.”
Retaining talent and communicating DEI achievements
If everyone in a business looks the same, chances are, they will all think in the same, or very similar, ways. Investing in a diverse workforce welcomes new ideas, innovations and a different mindset, while boasting a variation of skills and life experiences to utilise, leading to better ideation and innovation. To achieve this, Hughes and Macfadyen list a number of approaches:
Once these initiatives have been enforced, businesses should communicate their DEI commitments to future candidates, as well as current employees, as it demonstrates a business's culture and values. “People want to work for progressive, forward-thinking and transparent companies where they feel they’re valued, treated the same and have equal opportunities,” Hughes says.
This can be achieved in a number of different ways – one of the simplest is to utilise a business’s online presence, such as websites and social media. These platforms can be used as shop windows for candidates to gain insight into a business while allowing those who value DEI to demonstrate their priorities, and show they practise what they preach.
“When we launched Intervl, we wanted to focus on DEI from the beginning, so we employed an HR consultant to write our policies for our business in an inclusive manner,” Macfadyen adds. “Firstly, we wanted to understand our clients’ policies, processes and strategy on DEI. Then, by being committed to DEI in our workplace and in all our dealings with clients, applicants, and customers, it was easier for us to positively influence them. Whenever and wherever we can, we suggest different ways to approach recruitment, ensuring that DEI is at the top of the agenda.
“Our best and final piece of advice is: If you’re serious about DEI, shout about it and showcase it!”