Inclusion is rightly in the front of everyone’s minds, but is it only HR and the Board that really care about it? Most Hiring Managers are focused on their view of the ‘best’ candidate and often give little regard to Inclusion when making selection decisions. Therefore, is it Recruitment’s role to provide inclusive attraction methodologies, data monitoring, broad short lists and inclusion/bias training, then leave the Managers to their decision making; or can we change the language of our inclusion communication to make it more business focused, therefore making inclusion part of decision making?
Ultimately what are we trying to achieve by being inclusive? What does an inclusive workplace look like? Would we become less inclusive by trying to define inclusivity? Once we are inclusive how do we then maintain the right balance of inclusion within the organisation and would that apply only to certain roles or levels?
There is much discussion about ‘blind recruitment’ and how technology may help us with this. However, is this really the answer or do we just drive discrimination into another point of the process, while making our processes harder to manage? How do we demonstrate the impact on the bottom line of inclusive recruitment , retention and training? The problem with Inclusion is that we have more questions than we have answers!
These are the thoughts and takeaways from the latest Resourcing Think Tank (RTT) held on Tuesday 7th June, hosted by Heather Gaston, Deployed HR Infrastructure Bechtel, and titled ‘Inclusion Across your Organisation: From Resourcing to Harnessing the Diverse Workforce’.
This summary has been prepared to reflect a segment of the discussion held amongst senior HR and Resourcing professionals from leading national and international businesses. Specific company details, experiences and examples have been omitted from this summary as all discussions are held under ‘Chatham House Rules’.
What is inclusiveness?
Inclusiveness is about the individual and cultural mind set. However, what does inclusion really mean to a business; is it about feeling valued for your input and what the business does with it?
What problems are the business facing to tackle inclusion?
Senior management don’t seem to know how to nail it down, we seem to be waiting for the leadership team to steer it. Businesses don’t seem to realise that they are not operating an inclusive mind-set. A business will benefit from an inclusive environment as the business will represent its customers and the society they live in when the business itself has a diverse and inclusive workforce.
Do businesses only focus on inclusion when there are key drivers pushing them?
For arguments sake, if a business is going through a period of change and decides to expand into Europe, do they then only look to hiring local nationals who understand the local market and customer piece; because it suits the business needs. Are companies driven by need versus finding and attracting a genuine diverse and inclusive population? If the business is genuine about attracting a diverse and inclusive population, is that to the detriment of the business? Inclusiveness means different things to different people which makes it so difficult to define, even inclusiveness differs in every sector! There is no common terminology in organisations on what inclusiveness means; so many people have different interpretations.
Once a business attracts a diverse population and hires these people into the business, is that where it should end?
The problem doesn’t seem to be around finding a diverse population, the problem lies thereafter, through the on-boarding process. The company is undermining their objectives when it fails to nurture the candidates after the hiring process. If these people do not feel included in the culture of a business, what’s to stop them from leaving and more to the point, why would they stay?!
Do subcultures exist in a business?
Is there a shared belief that once the business finally achieves a diverse workforce that people automatically go back to what they are used to and unconsciously create subcultures in a business? Does this contradict the whole purpose of a diverse workforce if people are going to their ethnic groups once they have joined the business, creating pockets of different groups? Yes, it is diverse, but on the flip side it is not because everyone is segregated and working within their own ethnic population. Why? Is this instinct, are we drawn to what we know and how can we change this and make the work environment more inclusive so this doesn’t happen?!
Who should be leading inclusion?
Inclusion should link back to leadership behaviours. These leaders should be leading the way for an inclusive environment. It is up to leaders to do something around that mind-set and willingness for enabling an inclusive environment. Partnering with Finance and Marketing is a clever move to gain credibility with hard facts that leaders will care about. Working with Finance is an effective solution to building HR credibility. To be able to build a story that links to the business strategy mind along with the human piece will maintain the right balance.
In order to meet the needs of an inclusive workforce throughout the business, this needs to come from the top down. Starting with the leaders to show what an inclusive workforce entails, leading by example and trickling this down to bottom at grad level. The grad level is the focal point for introducing a diverse and inclusive environment for the future.
The talent pipeline has changed incredibly in the past 20 years and has come a long way since then. We should witness and see upstream female leaders in the future. This will continue to evolve once we feed the pre-pipeline and encourage girls to take on subject matters more traditionally associated with their male counterparts in schools at a young age.
For a truly inclusive environment we have to look at every individual in the business including the mighty middle. Those people who don’t have aspirations to be the next CEO, where work is part of their life rather than work being their life. There needs to be equal opportunities for all as every business has your typical hard wood, driftwood and dead wood. If we engage with every level of the business, this will create a truly inclusive environment for all.
What drives discrimination?
Unconscious bias – we all do it, it’s natural! Unconscious bias focuses on the mind-set. Recruiters have expertise to make selection and hiring decisions, training recruiters as subject matter experts to the hiring managers will improve diversity and will allow the hiring managers to focus on inclusion. Human beings are a business’ strongest asset; inclusiveness equals harmony in a business and to get this right it needs to come from the top down.
Inclusion tool kit
Take the organisational development approach; start with leadership and the traits you want. Then model this towards building a behavioural diverse workforce. Across the board organisations have better data on their customers than they do with their own employees. This is one of HR’s biggest struggles as the internal data is never 100% accurate. We need tools to help us make the right decisions and not snap ones. A values based approach might tackle inclusiveness and it might be possible that these values can drive the link between diversity and engagement.