Don’t just be diverse, be inclusive

Improving your hiring process can create more diverse workforces, but it takes respect and trust to begin building inclusive workplaces. 

“Diversity” and inclusive workplaces are the current hot topics in HR.  At every conference I go to all HR leaders are talking about the buzz acronyms D&I. “Diversity” includes building teams composed of candidates of different races, genders, physical ability, sexual orientation, ages or backgrounds. But it needs to become more than a compliance exercise. Building a more diverse workforce via more open hiring processes can be relatively easily implemented. It needs the right level of leadership commitment and the implementation of necessary systemic changes. But building an inclusive work place is harder to achieve. It is anchored in intangibles such as respect and trust, which are difficult to create processes for and therefore harder to measure.

Building inclusive workplaces

Leading a diverse team

Inclusive workplaces show stronger employee engagement (measured by productivity, connectedness and performance), less absenteeism and higher talent retention. They are becoming increasingly important for new generations of  employees who may have different values goals and vision.

  • 80% of employees say that inclusion is an important factor in choosing an employer.
  • 72% may consider leaving an organisation for one they think is more inclusive.
  • 30% of millennials left a job for one with a more inclusive culture.

The focus on leading a diverse team is how to effectively manage the neurodiversity elements. That is to say; a range of communication preferences, personality types, thinking and learning differences to benefit the business. One area which cuts across all of these diversity elements is of course gender.

Is your hiring process diversity friendly? 3Plus can help you to improve your Executive Search and Diversity Recruitment, especially to unlock the female workforce.

Gender equality

Gender equality still seems like a pipe dream. Women continue to be underrepresented at senior levels,  they are paid less, and promoted less rapidly than their male colleagues. Much time and energy has been spend researching this and the focus has been on behavioural difference between men and women. But new  research carried out by Harvard University suggests that this is no longer the case. It really is about bias and how women are perceived.

This study looks at the interaction of men and women in the workplace. It found that even though the difference in communication levels with senior management were the same and their performance was equal, men progressed within organisations and women didn’t. It’s all down to bias and gender coded expectations. The outcome is if you are seeking gender parity you have to do more than hire more women. You need to redefine the culture:

Our analysis suggests that the difference in promotion rates between men and women in this company was due not to their behavior but to how they were treated. This indicates that arguments about changing women’s behavior — to “lean-in,” for example — might miss the bigger picture: Gender inequality is due to bias, not differences in behavior.

Organisations are not building inclusive teams or an inclusive workplace culture.

Building Inclusive workplaces

So how can organizations become not just more diverse but become more inclusive workplaces?

  • A diverse talent pool:  Workplace inclusion is based on hiring genuinely diverse talents drawn from networks which are also more diverse.
  • Systemic inclusion: Creating process changes so that employees are in contact with a wide range of people on a daily basis for feedback, brainstorming and knowledge transfer to foster individual empowerment and to promote employee engagement so that everyone feels valued.
  • Employee inclusion: This is about creating respectful and trusting relationships across different levels of the organization, with a diverse and inclusive network of informal influence and trust.

This is about a mindset shift to drive what is a change management initiative to move away from group think. It involves bridging the leadership gap from processes to behavior which involves diversity of thought. Changing behavior as we know is the hardest part of any disruption. It is the reason that diversity and inclusion initiatives don’t work. No one like to change the way they do things.

Make sure that everyone in your office feels included, rather than isolated, by attending our event on How to Deal with Sexism in the Workplace.

Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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