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Ideas for building a diverse workforce

Amal Ravindran
May 13, 2022

Building a diverse team is understandably a priority for hiring managers, and in this blog, we’ll look at some of the ways your recruitment strategy can make your workplace more representative of society, and reflect you and your customers’ values.

How to expand leadership diversity

In February, Accenture published an article in Quartz where they shared some of their key recommendations on diversifying a company’s ranks – ‘from representation to deep transformation’.

It’s worth a read, but here are some of the tips and insights that caught our eye:

  1. Review diversity metrics frequently. “Accenture’s Modern Board 2020 survey found that 83% of “highly involved” boards review Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) metrics frequently, while only 3% of “low involved” boards do.”
  2. Understand what matters to your stakeholders. “The only way to know for sure what matters to your specific stakeholders is to ask, whether it’s soliciting confidential feedback from customers via online polls or face-to-face focus groups or reaching out internally via employee resource group leads and wider company discussions.”
  3. Empower your leaders. “Giving leaders the support they need to act on their own terms puts a human face on diversity initiatives.”
  4. Set targets. “In 2020, Accenture pledged to double the company’s Black and Latinx managing directors within five years… [and] as part of its goal to broaden its ranks, Best Buy partnered with Accenture to bring 1,000 new people into its digital and technology team, at least 30% of whom will be Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and women.”
  5. Focus on the boardroom. “While representation matters at every level, it’s especially important at the top…As North America CEO Jimmy Etheredge explains, ‘When people see someone they can relate to and identify with, it opens up new possibilities. If you can see it, you can be it.’”

One theme running through these recommendations is that representation alone is not enough. Perhaps where companies’ approach to DE&I sometimes falls short is in only measuring how many underrepresented candidates are coming in through the door, rather than focusing on the actual experience of working somewhere. Is a lack of diversity about the talent pipeline, or is it about looking a little deeper at promotion, attrition and employee satisfaction metrics? Can you see the talent? Do you value talented personnel while they’re working for you? Is there a pathway to promotion? A company that gives its talented people due recognition will find it easier to attract talented people from a range of backgrounds.

‘Why diverse teams are smarter’

Hiring a diverse workforce is not just the right thing to do – it makes business sense too. In fact, Accenture’s own 2019 retail study found that 42% of shoppers from minority backgrounds would switch to a brand that proved its commitment to diversity and inclusion.

What’s more, this fascinating Harvard Business Review article from a few years back makes a compelling case that diverse teams make better decisions due to a range of moderating influences.

“The scientists think that diverse teams may outperform homogenous ones in decision making because they process information more carefully,” the authors observe.

For example, the article cites a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which found that white jury members can recall evidence more accurately during the deliberations if they are on a diverse panel. Moreover, “diverse teams are more likely to constantly reexamine facts and remain objective”.

Balancing creativity and cohesion

As the Harvard Business Review article suggests, there is evidence that homogenous workplaces are less optimised for success. At the same time, while every well-intentioned hiring team is rightly keen to avoid cultural bias, should we also be mindful of cultural cohesion? In a period of hypergrowth, where a large number of new hires come in with their own way of doing things, it’s easy for an ‘anything goes’ culture to develop, where individual expression takes precedence over a unified organisational culture. Silicon Valley’s ‘most inclusive investor’ Ben Horowitz has made some thoughtful contributions to this effect.

Putting inclusion at the heart of your job ads

Language matters, but when we’re writing job ads, do we ever stop to think about how certain words can be alienating? Textio, an AI-based augmented language tool, looked at 25,000 job descriptions from 10 companies. They found that employers were more likely to use language that is associated with attracting male applicants – see for yourself below. Can inclusive language help drive applications from a broader range of candidates?

Culture Amp’s new report on diversity

If you’re looking to fine-tune your organisation’s approach to DE&I, Culture Amp’s 2022 Workplace DEI Report makes for essential reading. It gathers data from hundreds of companies around the world to explore which initiatives can lead to more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces. Some of the topics covered include:

  • Key trends on current practices within DEI (sometimes styled as DE&I).
  • The strategies that are most likely to help organisations “progress in the DEI space”
  • Trends in DEI leadership, and how companies have responded to calls for racial justice.

So, if you’re looking to absorb some invaluable insights, references and trends on workplace diversity, read the Culture Amp: 2022 Workplace DEI Report.

What do you think?

These are complicated issues to unpick, so we’re all ears if any of our loyal readers (yes, you!) would like to share their own insights on how to build a diverse workforce.

May 13, 2022

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