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Championing diversity as a business leader

Toni Heater
February 10, 2022

Whilst many different definitions exist, a diverse workplace is ultimately an inclusive environment that provides equal rights and opportunities to all employees, regardless of their identity and background, which can include factors such as gender, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, physical or mental ability, and socio-economic status.

Why should my workplace champion diversity?

Whilst diversity and inclusion is important to employees of all ages and experience levels, it’s particularly important to Gen Zers and millennials, making hiring tough for tech firms that lack diversity. In 2021, 89% of tech business leaders in the US wanted to hire junior talent, whilst 51% struggled to source diverse talent at this level. As tech recruitment is currently a candidate-driven market, the candidates you want to hire likely have multiple offers to choose from, and may use diversity and inclusion to evaluate which firm they’d like to join.

So, how can you improve diversity and inclusion within your business?

Start at the top

Look at your organisational structure from a candidate’s perspective and you’ll quickly see that board-level diversity is the best place to start.

Not only do tech firms with diverse boards receive higher investment and have a higher turnover, but board-level diversity serves as a reflection of the entire organisation, particulary from a candidate’s perspective; if your business champions diversity at the top then it likely does so further down the chain.
A quick glance at a uniform board of directors can therefore be an immediate red flag for candidates, and they’ll swiftly start discussions with a more diverse business.

Review your requirements

Does your hiring criteria eliminate candidates within certain minority groups? When writing job descriptions, consider the following:

Education: is a degree absolutely essential for this role or could this be substituted by self-taught knowledge or hands-on experience?

Years of experience: are you really looking for X years of experience or are you looking for a particular skillset? Could certain skills be learnt on the job?

Logistics: is it essential for candidates to work from the office or could this role be carried out remotely? Are working hours set in stone or could you provide flexibility to include candidates with childcare responsibilities, for example?

Minimise unconscious bias

Removing all unconscious bias from your hiring process can be difficult, but recognising that unconscious bias exists and needs to be accounted for is a great place to start.

There are lots of simple changes that can help minimise unconscious bias when hiring:

  • Run your adverts through a gender decoder before posting. Whilst feminine-coded adverts are significantly more appealing to female applicants, their impact on male and non-binary applicants is negligible.
  • Standardise your interview process. Write interview questions for each role in advance and follow the same structure for all applicants. When writing the questions, consider how you will judge responses whilst minimising bias - a numerical scoring system with clearly defined parameters, for example, may work.
  • Review CVs anonymously. They’re not perfect, but many applicant tracking systems or recruitment platforms can remove personal information (e.g. name, age, location) from a CV before it’s reviewed.
  • Remind your hiring managers about unconscious bias, and how to minimise it, through regular training.
Create an inclusive environment

Whilst diversity and inclusion is important when hiring, it’s equally as important to ensure that new and existing employees are happy at work. In the US, for example, 50% of 18 to 28 year olds in tech have left (or wanted to leave) their job due to company culture.

The easiest way to review this is to listen to your employees through regular and anonymous feedback surveys, ensuring that suggestions are taken onboard to reduce employee turnover.  Plus, when employees leave the business, conduct a structured exit interview.

In addition, consult your employees before making big decisions that impact them. This is particularly relevant as businesses transition back to the office post-pandemic - it may be useful for you to have everyone in one place, but do your employees feel the same or would a hybrid/remote set-up better suit them?

All workplaces should prioritise diversity and inclusion to attract and retain top talent. This can be achieved by ensuring diversity at board-level, making hiring criteria inclusive, minimising unconscious bias during the hiring process, and creating an inclusive work environment to drive employee satisfaction.

Toni Heater
Talent Partner

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