Fairness. It is what we all strive for both at work and away from work – and yet it seems so elusive. At times, it feels that progress has been made. Decisions having been based on merit and not on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or university attendance. However, at other times, we seem far from equity and equality with decisions riddled with bias – be they conscious or unconscious.
What if that all changed? What if our workplaces became places of fairness?
Diversity. Inclusivity. Equality.
These three words are bound together in the ethos of many organizations. They reflect the desire to strive for a place where equity sits comfortably alongside difference.
Diversity is about recognizing and emphasizing difference. Different perspectives offer different solutions to problems and usually better reflect a customer base than those of a more homogeneous group.
Inclusivity is found in organizations in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully. They have equal access to opportunities and resources and are able to contribute fully to an organization's success.
Equality comes from a place in which all employees have equality of opportunity. Enshrined in law for decades around the world, employers focused on equality, treated their workers fairly and were free of discrimination.
Over the last decade, the ‘business case’ for diversity, inclusivity and equality has steadily grown.
Upsides for the Organization
A diverse and inclusive workforce in which equality prevails has well-documented benefits. Such firms are able to access different perspectives when generating ideas, working through challenges and making decisions.
Productivity is higher. Gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their peers1 and ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to achieve this.
Other research2 has shown that inclusive businesses have a 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee over a three-year period, are 1.8 times more likely to be change-ready and are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market. They are 3.8 times more likely to be able to coach people for improved performance, are 3.6 times more able to deal with performance issues and are 2.9 times more likely to identify and build leaders. Problems get solved faster in cognitively-diverse teams.3
Attracting and hiring great talent is easier for a diverse and inclusive organization. 67 per cent of active and passive jobseekers said that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers.4 Also, retention is higher. A workforce that better reflects its customer base tunes into an understanding of its customers and builds a stronger and more legitimate connection.
And What For Us As Individuals?
Being part of a vibrant, diverse and inclusive organization sparks creativity and builds accountability. Those working within such a firm feel more engaged and valued. They understand their own impact. Respect is a foundational value of such firms and individuals feel that their voice is being heard.
Improving Equity Across Talent Management
Although there are pockets of brilliance and best practice, there is no doubt that all organizations could do much more.
A starting point would be for organizations to review their current talent management practices to understand where they are now. For example, they may want to review how they identify ‘potential’ as this may be inhibiting diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
1. How can hiring decisions be made fairer?
A new role is being defined. A diverse group of relevant stakeholders consider what it takes to thrive in the organization’s culture. The group helps them to look for someone with the right mindset. Someone who will not only thrive within the culture, but also bring diverse thinking and characteristics. This also helps create a more diverse talent pool in which candidates for other future roles can be found.
No one mentions advanced educational qualifications or cares which university was attended. Everyone’s input is considered. An attraction campaign is designed taking care of the applied imagery and those words that have been chosen. A flexible location strategy allows hiring from more diverse, talent-rich cities which have perhaps been overlooked in the past.
Candidates are asked to complete robust, free-from-bias and device-agnostic talent assessments that go beyond traditional abilities, grades and qualifications. Ones that will highlight those with a growth mindset and potential.
HR leaders are refining and redefining fairer HR practices and processes right now in organizations. We just need more of it.
2. How can only job-relevant information be used in selection?
A company with a mission to transform online grocery shopping through cutting-edge technology and automation understands the need to hire people today who will become future leaders. It knows it needs the essential skills of agility, curiosity, learnability and adaptability to change and the company measures these skills objectively in its applicants using talent assessment.
The initial interview stage deploys a video-interviewing assessment scored by expert-trained AI. This assesses a candidate’s match with the organization’s behaviors and values. This process mitigates against interviewer bias and helps deliver a more diverse and stronger-quality candidate to the assessment center.
3. How can school leavers apply for jobs based on their potential and interest?
A global technology business wanted to help candidates select the most suitable training program for them to join. School leavers completed an assessment that covered behaviors, personality, what interested them and what they enjoyed doing. The system then used a matching algorithm to evaluate the fit between the individual and job architectures, skill profiles or re-skilling frameworks in order to provide the candidate with the best fit.
4. How can we build digital behaviors from the bottom upward?
A global provider of public services understands that the best talent for its graduate program is not found on specific courses in specific universities. Rather it is individuals who share the organization’s values and those behaviors needed to succeed. It casts its net wide, attracts a more varied and socially-mobile candidate pool and measures each against its organizational values. The result is a more diverse cohort poised to contribute fresh, new ideas to take the business forward.
Building a More Diverse Workforce
Good intentions on their own will not root out bias and create fairness. We need to assess and address the people policies and processes that neglect diversity and inclusion and deter equality. We must broaden our view of what potential is and rethink how we measure and identify it.
This will allow us to build a more diverse workforce and solve the challenge of the pipeline – rather than firefighting the quotas after the fact.
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