By 2022 most companies have made some form of commitment towards diversity and inclusion. There is recognition of a persuasive need for a coherent D&I strategy, from an economic, social and moral perspective. The global definition of D&I has shifted to become more expansive in recent years, from race, ethnicity and gender to sexual orientation, religious affiliation and considerations over disability.
But what does it actually mean to put this into practice?
And the most important question – is your company truly committed to it?
Honesty is key
The scrupulous self-assessment required to implement an effective D&I strategy may not be comfortable, but it is necessary from the beginning. Keep in mind that an overhaul may be required. Harvard Business Review suggests that many companies are simply ‘doubling-down’, without having modified their approach on improving diversity in decades. This stubbornness can lead to a backlash amongst existing staff. Examine your current diversity training and consider organisational responsibility.
The best approach is to be honest with candidates and employees and put your faith in the moral and business case for a strong diversity and inclusion policy. Implementing a successful D&I strategy is not about accountability or punishment; it is intended as a positive step. Tackling unconscious bias is a central element of D&I strategy and is based on a collective, organisational responsibility rather than ascribing blame to individuals.
The way that your company presents D&I through its external recruitment process is crucial. Have you assessed your job listings through the lens of a D&I policy? Consider the advice given by the EW Group, a leading global diversity consultancy.
It isn’t a weakness to take inspiration from the D&I strategies of other companies or to share knowledge of your own – the development of consistent D&I across an entire sector benefits everyone. To an even greater extent, it may be that working with an independent recruitment agency is a good way to acknowledge and reduce the effect of unconscious bias on the recruitment process. Of course the agency themselves must also have a robust D&I strategy!
Company Culture and benefits
Diversity and inclusion is not only communicated through words but actions. What message is communicated by your organizational culture? Think about how the physical space you work in can affect productivity, and the perception of your organisation.
What benefits do you offer, and what type of candidate would those benefits attract? For example, if your organisation lacks sufficient parental leave benefits, think about what message is communicated to employees with families. You may be indirectly excluding the talent that your organisation needs.
Many companies have taken the decision to appoint a Chief Diversity Officer, or at least a coordinator of some sort who can oversee the implementation of an organisation’s diversity and inclusion policy.
When reviewing your diversity and inclusion strategy it is essential to consider the scrutiny of potential candidates.
Firsthand, the career-building platform, published a blog last year that explored the differences between a company that is ready to develop D&I or a company that is all talk. You have to know your strategy inside-out because you will be tested on it. Candidates know what to look for – an equal opportunity disclaimer, a leadership team that sets an example, communicative branding, organizational history and possibly the testimony of current and former employees.
For this reason, adopting an attitude of fearlessness and critical self-assessment is so important when building a coherent strategy for diversity and inclusion. You must not be blinded by your own bias, and try to consider how your organisation appears from an external perspective.
Continental Search Alliance recruits for mid-level to C-suite executive positions from scalable startups to the world’s largest tech firms, combining tech and digital expertise with extensive reach across EMEA and APAC.
Written by Tom Boughen for CSA.