Why your diverse hiring initiative isn’t working

27.08.2019

Is this scenario familiar to you? You’ve realised there simply isn’t enough diversity in your company’s workforce. You’ve taken key steps to make sure there isn’t any discrimination in the office – and you’ve stamped out bias in your hiring manager’s thinking. So why is your workforce still so… samey?

Much of the diverse hiring advice online involves shifting mindsets and culture to become more accommodating to employees of a minority group. The problem is falling short before you even get there. You might be willing to embrace these employees with open arms – but are they willing to embrace you?

Your hiring process is still sending the wrong message

Believe it or not, your company might be giving off the wrong message, one that’s driving certain candidates away before they even apply, leaving your final hiring pool less diverse. Here are some of the most common mistakes I’ve seen in hiring a diverse workforce:

1. Shortlisting: this may accidentally discriminate against a candidate’s age, gender, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics unrelated to the job requirements or qualifications.

2. Use of language in the job postings that imply gender coding. Female candidates often feel discouraged from applying for open roles that are advertised with masculine-coded language.

What does “masculine-coded” language mean? Well, a 2011 research paper found that certain words in advertising – think “impulsive”, “decisive”, “head-strong”, traits which women have traditionally been discouraged from embodying – send the message to women that they are unsuitable for certain roles. While there are “feminine-coded” words too, it’s “masculine-coded” language which makes up a greater majority of advertising copy language.

A good copyeditor or sensitivity reader can be crucial to picking up bias in language and making your job adverts appeal to a wider audience

3. Inadequate insights into the company’s branding, working culture, missions and values mean prospective employees don’t get a good understanding of your workplace and might forgo it for competitors. Particularly minority employees, who may be more cautious, need to understand your company is a place where they will be accepted, where they can thrive and have a successful career path.

4. Lack of flexible working from home options: this is especially for those who have a long commute to work or have family commitments. Companies need to trust that people will still get their work done no matter their working locations. Promoting a workplace that focuses on performance and not hours at the desk will make employees feel more valued and satisfied.

5. Not recognising the diversity issue: perhaps the most fundamental reason, trying for a diverse workforce with a shallow understanding of the reasons companies wish to attract diverse talent. Establishing more diverse leaders may help address root causes of a high turnover of staff and make changes to attract, retain and develop diverse talent.

Improving your hiring process with practical steps

When hiring, look at the concept of “culture add” instead of “culture fit”. It is more important to find a candidate who’s motivated and whose values align with the company culture and core values, than merely by matching each technical skillset.

Companies also need to establish a formal career progression schedule with concrete actions plans for employees in order to keep them motivated and committed and this often translates into longer tenure. As a result, it would be less costly for HR, Managers and team members to go through the continuous cycles of recruitment and training of new people.

Implementation of paternity leave gives men an opportunity of engaging in and supporting the child’s development as a family and establishes him as an equal partner in parenting. Additionally, providing women time to recover from childbirth and increase their well-being to be less prone to experience depression, and can faster resume of work duties.

Ensuring diversity is a modus operandi of your company means thinking more laterally about your hiring process. By identifying the psychological barriers faced by minority employees, specific initiatives targeting pain points can be implemented.

Objective is committed to our “Great People, Great Teams” philosophy. This year, we put a spotlight on our LGBTI community, but our efforts span people of all gender, sexualities and ethnicities. Check out our job listings, and tell us how we’re doing with communicating our message of diversity.

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From the author: Linda Huynh
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