These are the thoughts and takeaways from the Diversity Think Tank (DTT) held on 11th June at RBS; bringing together senior diversity professionals from a range of blue-chip companies. The DTT falls under the umbrella of the HR Think Tank Series, bought to you by Oasis Search, the network driven HR Recruitment provider. For more information or to be considered for membership email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0207 11 88 444.
Following our first DTT, delving into the supply chain, a number of interesting outcomes have been identified relating to developing the diversity business case, skilling up recruiters to embrace the initiative, and tackling unconscious bias.
Changing the mind-set…
With the subject of diversity being an ever-more pressing issue for businesses; how do organisations embed the initiative in managements’ minds and move away from a simple compliance exercise to something that’s more real? Clearly the focus needs to be on education and a change of mind-set, as often line managers have little accountability for diversity standards and senior stakeholders fail to give it the attention it deserves.
Perhaps the place to start is by speaking the language of the board and attaching a commercial value to aligning the business proposition with diversity standards – as soon as the board is made aware of missed business opportunities as a consequence of failing to comply, they’ll be sure to listen up. Once senior buy-in is achieved, our members reported success in nominating influential members of staff to champion a strand of the diversity agenda to embed the concept in remaining employees’ mind.
Our experts’ views:
a) When targeting recruiters on hitting diversity ‘quotas’ ensure that ‘the bar’ isn’t lowered to reach targets. In essence, make them realistic and focus on quality candidates.
Take it back to the start…
A theme observed from the DTT was that inclusivity in the recruitment process should be addressed and planned for far in advance of short-listing. The focus needs to be brought back to talent pooling for future roles, to prevent correcting a long-term unbalanced employee portfolio further down the line. It is suggested that the diversity attraction process should be during graduate recruitment, with an on-going focus to increase organisational engagement to reduce attrition levels.
Our experts’ views:
a) For organisations with a technology focus (typically associated with males), begin attracting young girls to the businesses by developing fun workshops / clubs to spark an interest in technologies from a young age
b) Evaluate PSLs on diversity standards and submissions.
Supply chain skills gap…
From observation, it seems that suppliers clearly have good intentions to be diverse, however seldom have the tools to turn thoughts into actions. So, how much should be spent on ‘skilling-up’ up your supply chain to ensure they are both competent and confident with tackling this issue? There seems to be a question around the level of investment in external businesses and within internal recruitment teams. Nevertheless, the power is in the employers’ hands and educating suppliers based on diversity standards is crucial for ensuring roles are positioned effectively and diverse candidates are sourced successfully.
Our experts’ views:
a) Ensure you’re working in partnership with suppliers and develop close relationships to ensure both organisations’ values are aligned before entering into formal arrangements.
Unconscious bias training…
In terms of ‘skilling-up’ your supplying partners and developing an effective set of tools internally, training individuals with regard to unconscious bias is essential for acquiring new talent and developing existing talent.
Our experts’ views:
a) Teach the subject of unconscious bias through drama based training and simulated workplace scenarios, but ensure results are monitored and evaluated with regular surveys.
External brand perception…
Whilst it’s easy to place blame on employers for failing to recruit individuals from outside their ‘typical demographic’, rightly or wrongly, focus should additionally be applied to the individual for self-excluding. What organisations often find is that depending on the nature / industry of their business, candidates will self-exclude based on a preconceived perception of the brand and a fear of not fitting in. Businesses need to take a step back to understand what employees are saying about the brand, the competition’s opinion and then contrast this with how the organisation views itself. This should help provide a clear picture of how to tackle the issue of attracting diverse talent when perhaps a stigma exists around your brand.
What happens next…
The aftercare of diverse candidates, in terms of external hires and internal moves, needs to be given some consideration. Onboarding needs to be handled with thought – it’s essential not to be afraid to ask individuals what they require to do their job.
Telling the story…
It’s undeniable that people respond well to stories and even more so, to real stories – so share them! Retelling case studies, staff successes, highlighting role models, providing testimonials and essentially creating a positive ‘story’ around the subject of diversity is a great way to evoke excitement and heighten staff engagement. After all, actions speak louder than words. And finally, once organisational stories are prepared, make sure they are shared with recruitment partners / suppliers and therefore communicated to candidates – a great way of putting your business ahead of competitors in terms of attracting new talent.
- Speak the language of the board to get diversity cemented on the overriding business’s agenda
- Partner with suppliers to ensure your values are aligned, and where possible, offer training to skill-up businesses on diversity standards
- Take attraction back to graduate recruitment and talent pooling to plan for the future
- Be aware of your external brand image, as it may deter individuals from applying for roles within the business based on a preconceived perception
- During the onboarding process, be sure to ask candidates what they require or how the business can help with their day to day jobs
- Publicise internal success stories; share amongst the business and with recruitment partners to help enrich the resourcing process.