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The Five Top Tips Helping Companies Achieve Diversity

Xref

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In our recent webinar, ‘Emerging Recruitment Trends to Watch Out for’ our three HR and recruitment experts; Yiorgos Boudouris (Head of Talent, Forma AI), Maysa Hawwash (Founder and CEO, Scalex) and Serge Boudreau (VP Business Development/Head of Sales, Careerbeacon) shared the challenges of achieving diversity, equality and inclusion in an organisation, especially during a talent shortage. 

Headshots of Yiorgos Boudouris (Head of Talent, Forma AI), Maysa Hawwash (Founder and CEO, Scalex) and Serge Boudreau (VP Business Development/Head of Sales, Careerbeacon)

What is diversity hiring?

According to Vervoe, diversity hiring refers to a recruitment and hiring process that is unencumbered by biases related to a candidate’s age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and other characteristics that have no bearing on their talent or job performance. 

If your company has great diversity initiatives but you’re struggling to make them stick across your organisation, here are some tried and tested recommendations to help.

1. Create diverse hiring teams

An easy way to encourage diverse hires is to allow them to see a diverse hiring team. Placing your diversity goals in action, allows your company to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. 

Diversity goals are important because they point to a forward-thinking organisation. 

To help achieve a diverse workplace culture, it’s important to understand the diverse needs and growth goals of all employees. Some employees want flexible work or hybrid roles, whereas others will be driven by the opportunity to develop different skill sets. 

Diversity is more than people from vast backgrounds. Diversity helps to bring different ways of thinking, allowing organisations to benefit and see perspectives they may not have considered. This provides strength and longevity. 

However, creating achievable goals is imperative to success. Maysa Hawwash points out that unfortunately,

“we are seeing more and more people leave organisations because they don't believe in the authentic leadership around DEI.” 

So, what are some good examples of diversity goals? Ongig outlines a few measurable diversity goals set by American organisations. These include:

  • Your company commits to increase the number of women in technical roles to 40% (of all roles)
  • Increase diversity in the global leadership team by 2025
  • All managers are required to attend diversity and inclusion training.

Yiorgos Boudouris also offers one solution to assist: “When we are selecting the hiring teams to interview candidates, we check for a broad, representative nature. [If we can’t achieve that], we have to be upfront with candidates, as to why they might not be able to meet with a diversity of internal folks as a part of that interview process.”

2. Uncover and remedy unconscious bias

Unconscious bias can be a huge inhibitor to achieving strong diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) throughout your organisation. 

Unconscious bias is learned assumptions, beliefs, or attitudes that humans aren’t necessarily aware of. In terms of hiring, it can come into play if someone was to choose a candidate who may have grown up in the same town as them or went to the same school. These biases can be either favourable or unfavourable. It is a normal part of human brain function but it must be overcome when hiring to ensure the most diverse and inclusive spread of people. 

Yiorgos gives a few tips to overcome this challenge. “We talk about bias and implicit bias as a part of our interview training.” 

In addition to curating a diverse hiring team for talent acquisition, training that team to watch out for implicit biases and teaching them how to move away from gut feeling can be a huge advantage to improve the candidate experience and hire the best talent. “It’s important to know how people identify or what they represent, rather than using gut instinct” explains Yiorgos. 

Consider talent pools to help remove unconscious bias when hiring diverse talent. 

A talent pool may help remove unconscious bias from the hiring process. Recruiters and talent acquisition specialists can use a talent pool to search for certain skills or competencies. 

A talent pool can be made up of employees who have left the business or candidates who applied for roles but were not quite suitable at the time. Building a talent pool of past applicants gives you a source of interested candidates to approach. 

Xref offers ‘People Search’, a cloud-based solution that uses your existing data to identify passive candidates and automatically build a talent pool. When an employee leaves your business or a referee opts in to be contacted after giving a reference for a candidate, People Search builds a database of job titles and core competencies. 

By searching for required competencies, your organisation can take a data-driven approach to hiring, reducing the opportunity for biases to come into play early in the recruitment process. 

Unconscious bias can be found in all aspects of the recruitment process and can prevent an organisation from achieving some goals, like growth, but strategies like talent pools and diverse hiring teams can help. 

Beyond hiring, however, what can organisations do to retain diverse talent? 

3. Dedicate a team to DEI

If DEI metrics are funnelled through your recruitment team because it is perceived to fall under the human resources banner, consider how it will flow beyond the stage of successfully hiring an employee. 

In the webinar, Yiorgos indicated

“I almost feel like [organisations perceive] the easy way of doing it is to get all of our diversity and inclusion initiatives out through recruitment, because it's HR, it’s an easy business case to achieve. But consider, where does it reflect in the rest of the organisation?” 

By dedicating a team to DEI, they can create a strategy and actionable metrics that they want to achieve, not just in the hiring process, but throughout any stage of an employee’s tenure. Maintaining diversity is just as important as hiring diverse people in the first place. 

A dedicated DEI team focuses on more than hiring. This team can look at how inclusive practices are throughout your organisation. For example, do you only celebrate Christmas? What other days on the calendar can you mark to not only include other cultures but also share experiences and create learnings for all people? 

If you can’t create a team dedicated to DEI, consider some champions throughout your business who can keep you accountable to goals and flag when you can improve. Maysa, Serge and Yiorgos all agree that transparency across the business, both internally and externally, around DEI expectations and also what is realistic, is the key to success.

4. Create transparent internal and external DEI strategies

Serge Boudreau believes,

“companies that are very transparent about it, to me, are the ones that are going to be successful because they're being held accountable.”
The 5 recruitment questions Serge asks to ensure DEI

Consider the following questions posed by Serge in the webinar.

  • What is your outbound recruitment strategy? 
  • Where is your DEI strategy going? 
  • What do you want to achieve? 
  • What are you doing internally to be able to actually measure your success?
  • Once you have your DEI values and statement, what’s next?

“To me,” Serge explains, “for a program to be successful when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, the person that needs to own it is the CEO.”

Yiorgos recounts a story of a candidate who recently asked what the gender breakdown of his company, Forma AI, was.

“I reflected on candidates wanting specific stories, specific measures. This is something that I was able to address because it matters to me, but do I think that everyone is equally prepared to answer a question like that across my organisation? I would say no.” 

“You need to show the receipts,” Serge says. Candidates and employees want proof that your organisation has and can authentically achieve DEI goals. These goals need to be made transparent across all levels and all departments of your organisation so candidates and employees trust that you will achieve the goals you say you have. 

DEI also has a cyclical effect; those diverse candidates who feel you are working towards those milestones and hitting those goals will refer other diverse candidates, thus helping you to continue to achieve those goals. 

The holistic approach to working with your teams internally as well as creating goals for external accountability can funnel through the hiring and retention processes. 

5. Training and career enhancement

With current talent shortages, organisations are focusing more and more on retaining top talent. Maysa points out that the power is in the candidate or employee’s hands. 

“The conversation is shifting from here's a job - take 30 minutes to apply, to what can you do for me to enhance my career?” 

Maysa points out that a lot can be found out from an employee’s Pulse or Exit surveys - detailing their current experiences at an organisation and the reasons as to why they are leaving. “People leave for a couple of reasons that are very repetitive, one being career mobility. They ask ‘what is my career going to look like in the next few years?’”

She explains, “There aren't really very innovative ways [to manage someone’s goals whilst wanting them to stay in a current role]. We do a lot of exit interviews for some of our clients and the data tells us that.”

For some, learning from and working with people from diverse backgrounds or cultures is key to their growth. They want to see those metrics to feel included and to feel like the business will cater to their needs. 

How we achieve diversity at Xref

At Xref, we are an open and inclusive company that celebrates staff from all walks of life. We are proud of creating a workplace that celebrates equality and diversity. We are always looking to improve initiatives in this area and take feedback from staff seriously. Our goal is to ensure everyone can come to work as their true selves.

Globe with drop pins - At Xref our staff represent 16 different countries

When the COVID pandemic hit, like most other companies at the time, we transitioned to a remote work model. However, we decided to make that change permanent. Now we are remote-first with offices in Sydney, Toronto and the UK where our people can attend if they like. 

Being remote- first means we focus on output and this opens us up to more diverse hires. Our staff represent 16 different countries. Our people can fit their lives in with work.  

Almost half of our staff are female, and 62% of our leadership team are female. On top of this, 42% of our executive team are female. 

Concluding thoughts

Diverse recruitment marketing tactics and inclusive job offers are one part of hiring for a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce. The other challenge is retaining that talent for long-term organisational growth, development and success. 

Our three HR experts Maysa, Serge and Yiorgos all agree that transparent diversity goals need to be championed by many areas of a business, not alone by HR and recruitment teams. The challenge is allowing DEI goals to permeate further than a candidate’s first step into the organisation, but throughout their tenure with an organisation.

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