How The Staffing Industry Can Increase Diversity and Inclusion

ThinkstockPhotos-487921819Diversity hiring can be a spearheading effort.

More diversity in business is becoming a critical need. Organizations face an increasingly diverse business landscape influenced by globalization and greater diversity among its workforce, customers and partners. As organizations feel increasing pressure, companies are looking everywhere for solutions – but has the staffing industry made their clients aware enough that recruiters could be a key resource in solving this problem? Furthermore, has the staffing industry become aware that, in a space as crowded as recruiting, it has a huge opportunity in front of itself?

Social good, corporate social responsibility and good governance are certainly a few of the main drivers of the diversity and inclusion wave. However, a lack of diversity and inclusion really is hurting companies’ bottom line, which is also spurring the movement. Here’s why:

Risk-taking, in any industry, is key in order to outperform your competitors. Although companies fall behind the competition for many reasons, a lack of diversity is often the secret culprit. This is because cultural sameness can encourage groupthink, the “hive mind” and other counterproductive ailments among staffs and departments.

A diverse staff brings with it higher chances for innovation and new ideas, because diversity allows companies to leverage an array of experiences and views. For example, one of the things that Braidio does best is use peer exchanges to create a crowdsourced knowledge base for reference by other employees, to spur productivity and creativity.

On the other hand, a staff that lacks diversity often makes its business decisions based on a narrow collection of perspectives and approaches.

PREMIUM CONTENT: 2015 List of Diversity Staffing Firms

Recruiters and staffing experts can help fix the diversity and inclusion problem not only by recruiting more diverse candidates, but by also educating their clients. Diversity is a broad term that extends beyond race and gender; it can refer to the LGBT community, people with disabilities, veterans, and people of different generations. Being well-educated and informed on the topic will enable you to better guide organizations so they can make the right hiring decisions.

Recruiters and staffing professionals should be well-versed in diversity and inclusion issues to be better equipped in providing solutions for all types of organizations. For example, how do you properly manage recruiting and interviewing individuals with disabilities? Did you know that there are many incentives and tax benefits for hiring people with disabilities? It is likely that not enough recruiters and staffing experts truly know how to appropriately conduct an interview with someone who is blind, deaf or in a wheelchair.

In this scenario, you need to know what you can and cannot say or do (legal vs. illegal questions), you need to understand disclosure and requests for accommodations and – perhaps most importantly – you need to acknowledge your own fears and attitudes. Proper training in recruiting and interviewing individuals with disabilities is just one example of how staffing professionals can do their part to help solve the diversity and inclusion problem.

As a staffing professional, you likely often hear your clients emphasizing the recruiting of candidates who are a good cultural “fit.” However, the increasingly urgent debate surrounding diversity may mean that it could finally be time to disassociate the word “fit” from the definition of “the same as us.” In the data-driven Information Age, the benefits of recruiting job candidates from an array of cultures, races, gender, ages, physical and cognitive capabilities and sexual orientations can transform your clients’ businesses in tangible, measureable ways.

A good first step as a staffing professional is to dive into your clients’ business and understand where their staff’s strengths and weaknesses currently lie in terms of diversity. You should also evaluate the challenges that each of your clients have faced with regard to diversity, and why they may be having trouble with becoming a more diverse and inclusive company. Once you have identified these current strengths and weaknesses, along with their past and present challenges, you can begin to source job candidates that will meet their needs.

Finally, as a staffing professional, one of the best ways to start offering more diverse candidates to your clients is to begin networking with organizations that are likely to connect you with diverse talent. This will require you to expand your horizons when it comes to who you network with and where, but it can lead you to some of the best and brightest job candidates, from all walks of life, that are looking for the chance to make an impact in the business world. There are networks that represent specific groups of people, and there are also networks that are centered on diversity in general. These can likely be found in or around your own city, and you can also take this practice online by joining similar groups on social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

It’s clear that organizations of all shapes and sizes are looking for a solution to the growing diversity and inclusion issue. As a staffing professional, by stepping onto the front lines of this battle, you can make a positive impact on society while also differentiating yourself from your competition.

MORE: Building a diverse workforce

Iain Scholnick
Iain Scholnick is co-founder and CEO of Braidio.

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