Make Your D&I Efforts Really Count

To drive success in today’s job market, diversity and inclusion (D&I) needs to be a top priority. Aside from the moral imperative to create more equitable and progressive workplaces, diverse companies, simply put, make more money. A study by the Boston Consulting Group found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue due to innovation.

But let’s be real. Despite best intentions, organizations still fall short of recruiting, hiring, and retaining diverse talent.

Why? Too many companies begin D&I initiatives with ill-defined goals, limited knowledge or experience in implementing programs like this, and a lack of cohesion among leadership. Further, they lack the planning, technology solutions, and metrics to monitor the change they want to achieve.

Here are some tips to start on the right foot:

1. Executive champions. D&I initiatives require executive buy-in and ongoing support. If your decision makers are convinced of D&I’s importance from the beginning, you can make real change much more effectively.

Educate leadership on the benefits of a more diverse workforce. With diversity and inclusion efforts proven to positively impact the bottom line, it shouldn’t be hard to capture their attention and advocacy. Highlight the concrete benefits of supporting a more diverse team so your leaders prioritize your efforts: improved innovation, reduced employee turnover, better ability to attract top talent, and more.

Create a policy that formalizes your company’s commitment to D&I. Our CEO, for example, signed an action committed to advancing women in leadership at our company. Fifty-percent of our global executive team is female and approximately 65% of those at the director level and above are female. These outcomes would not be possible without the support of leadership.

In addition, establish a D&I council of leaders across your organization with a clear purpose and framework. Clarify that these duties should be prioritized as real responsibilities rather than secondary ones.

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2. Goal setting. Take stock of your organization and define achievable goals. When talent acquisition teams begin to talk about diversity in recruiting efforts, they focus on the more obvious identifiers, like race, gender, and sexual orientation. Diversity also includes factors like age, physical and mental ability, class, religion, and more. It also looks different depending on the industry and location of your business. Keeping this in mind, be realistic about how you can change the make-up of your company through new hires.

Reflect on the population of your employees and ask yourself some critical questions. Do they all look the same? What does your leadership team look like? How does this population compare to industry standards and the population of your city?

If you identify opportunities to diversify your organization’s employee base, direct your outreach at specific populations and go from there. Look at populations historically under-hired and see how they can fit in your company. For example, autistic employees (a population with an estimated 66% unemployment rate) have recently thrived in areas like cybersecurity and programming.

You can’t rely on the same recruitment tactics, either. Using more inclusive language in job postings, targeted messaging to reach specific populations, and university networking opportunities are all ways to broaden your hiring pool. Additionally, provide unconscious bias training for all hiring managers, and use diverse interview panels when evaluating new candidates.

3. Know when to call for help. Improving D&I in your organization can be challenging, and it’s often a sensitive topic to even discuss. It’s easy to fumble important conversations and derail efforts. Further, even if you manage to recruit a more diverse population of candidates, you won’t keep them if you don’t foster an inclusive environment that supports diversity. Fortunately, you don’t need to achieve all this on your own.

Many businesses are hiring formal roles like “director of diversity and inclusion” or “chief equality officer,” with such postings for these positions increasing by nearly 20% between 2017 and 2018. While many businesses aren’t in a position to make these hires, that doesn’t mean they can’t call for outside help when necessary.

Bring in experts to lead conversations around these topics and facilitate discussions to ensure every new hire feels welcome in your organization. Experts also can educate existing employees and facilitate important conversations around why diversity matters.

4. Use more than short-term solutions. Consider using partners who can recruit more diverse candidate pools and work with you to evaluate your culture and create inclusive policies.

RPO providers promote diverse hiring, ensure compliance, and make certain your dedication to diversity and inclusion is reflected through your culture and values. They also can help your organization overhaul your processes from the start of the recruitment process to onboarding. This can entail market mapping, diversity job boards, creating emerging talent programs, leveraging veteran programs, and more. Using partners like RPOs will ensure that your diversity efforts are effective and valuable long-term for talent acquisition.

Again, diversity in your workforce isn’t a nice-to-have – it’s a key component of what makes your business successful. And with companies struggling to fill roles in an increasingly competitive market, those able to cast a wider net into a more diverse pool of candidates are far more likely to last.

Anne Bucher

Anne Bucher
Anne Bucher is senior VP of Customer Experience at Cielo.

Anne Bucher

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