The opportunity divide: Diversity in the global jobs market

Diversity is now an item high on the agenda for employers. Larger organizations have been held to account to fill specific diversity quotas, yet it is also increasingly apparent that diverse organizations simply make better business sense. Studies suggest that they are more productive and collaborative because they are built around people from a variety backgrounds, experiences, and skill sets.

Of course, diversity as a concept is complex and multi-faceted: It covers not only race, gender, and sexual orientation, but the economic background of the candidate, too. In fact, the term ‘opportunity divide’ was coined by Year Up to denote job opportunity gap between young adults from low-income backgrounds, versus those from more affluent backgrounds.

And the recruitment industry largely agrees that such a problem exists. According to a global survey of more than 2,000 recruiters by Bullhorn, the majority (57%) think that an opportunity divide is prevalent in the current jobs market. For many organizations, embracing truly diverse hiring practices will be challenging, but there are some practical steps that recruiters can take to help them.

Know your client’s diversity goals. A logical place to start is knowing your clients’ diversity goals. As a recruiter, you can then offer tailored advice and support to the hiring manager, and provide a more proactive part of the solution to the challenges the company faces.

Clients will often look to recruitment partners as consultants, to really help them understand the cultural and commercial reasons for building a more diverse organization, so it is important that you approach the topic from a position of authority and trust. Start by helping them solidify their objectives.

Analyze data and research. Where at all possible, collect diversity data points from your customer relationship management (CRM) and applicant tracking system (ATS) software, and provide meaningful data analysis to make your clients aware of any trends in their hiring, particularly if you notice a gap in underrepresented groups. You can further strengthen the business case for diverse hiring by keeping tabs on the latest research in the field.

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Understand unconscious bias. Unconscious bias plays a huge role in stifling diversity in the recruitment process. By understanding the impact that it has at your client’s workplace, you can put in place systems and checks to mitigate its effect. One idea is to use blind CVs, removing any candidates’ details that might cause bias, like name, gender, and the names of educational institutions.

Mind your language. Another important fix is taking note of the language used in job specs. Start by implementing gender-neutral job descriptions and explaining explicitly (both on your client’s website and in communication with talent) that the organization actively supports and promotes candidates from minority and underrepresented groups.

It is also worth highlighting critical benefits that encourage underrepresented groups to apply. This could include flexible working and back-to-work training, both of which are important for returning mothers, for example.

Manage client expectations. Finding diverse candidates usually takes extra time, requires searching across industries and geographical regions, and necessitates a focus on core competencies and skills rather than specific experience. In this respect, it’s important to manage your client’s expectations and remind them that it can be worth waiting for the right candidate, rather than rushing.

Seek to broaden the perception of ‘diversity.’ Broadening the definition of diversity so that it includes ‘diversity of thought’ will increase the number of potential candidates you can put forward. Diversity of thought focuses on the candidate’s life experiences, culture, background, and personality, in addition to qualifications and work experience – helping you to widen your client’s potential talent pool.

Becoming a trusted advisor on diversity will add more value to your client relationships in the long term. It requires taking a bold stance and sometimes pushing back against their decisions, but it will allow you to encourage them towards more diverse hiring, along with the cultural and commercial benefits that it brings to their businesses.

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Peter Linas

Peter Linas
Peter Linas is international managing director at Bullhorn.

Peter Linas

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