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How to cultivate diversity and inclusion in your company in 2023

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) has risen fast on the corporate agenda. From discussions around equal pay to supporting neurodiverse workers and creating diversity in the boardroom, it's at the top of many corporate agendas. And, for good reason too.

Businesses with diverse and inclusive workforces experience greater productivity, enhanced creativity, and better innovation. In short, diversity and inclusion in the workplace is no longer just the right thing to do. It's good for business, too.

Impactful Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) needs a balance between small and large initiatives. Large organisations often shout about the big initiatives they are taking in the area but there are smaller firms making great strides in D&I that we seldom hear about.

The best strategies and plans take time to implement, but smaller changes can send positive signals to current staff and candidates looking at your organisation.

Ensure D&I is an integral part of your organisational culture

First, ensure the CEO positions themselves as the top champion for D&I efforts. Diversity and inclusion best practices in the workplace are a top-down effort. Without this buy-in, it is almost impossible to achieve a diverse and inclusive work environment.

Does your company have a code of conduct? A code of conduct is key to retention. If you have a code, remember to share it, and if you don't, create one.  Ensure it is a company-wide document that new hires see on day one. It can say things like, "We believe in collaborative working" and/or "We are here to support all staff."

LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends report found that diversity is a key trend that has impacted the way organisations hire their people. According to the report’s findings, 78% of companies prioritise diversity to improve culture, and 62% of companies prioritise it to boost financial performance.

What does your current team look like?

No diversity and inclusion strategy in the workplace is complete without measurement. What does D&I success look like for you and your organisation? Consider:

  • Are diverse colleagues staying or leaving? Employee retention is a good sign that your business is getting inclusion right. If you have a high turnover rate, there could be a discrepancy in management.
  • What is your percentage of diversity across functions and levels? Top-performing firms are diverse throughout—not only at the graduate and entry-level roles.

Eliminate bias in the hiring process

Research shows that the hiring process is unfair and full of bias. The goal is to make operations and D&I recruiting best practices bias-free. Some ways to do that include:

  1. Create an interview panel
  2. Write gender-neutral job descriptions
  3. Conduct blind screenings

Panel interviews

With access to information about your organisation through LinkedIn, Glassdoor,and other social channels, candidates now form a perception of your company long before the interview. Ensure that underrepresented employees are included in your interviews. But don’t overload them, either.

Write gender-neutral job descriptions

Audit all your job descriptions. Gender Decoder is a free app to check for gender-coded words such as “aggressive” or “bold” that may dissuade women from applying.

Conduct blind screenings

This can reduce unconscious biases in the CV review process. Studies have shown that people with stereotypically “ethnic” names need to send out more CVs and that resumes with female names are rated lower than ones with male names, even when equally qualified. A candidate's name alone has been shown to immediately cause bias. Applicants with white-sounding names like Emily or Greg were 50% more likely to receive interview requests than names, like Lakisha or Jamal according to a study published in the American Economic Review.

Culture fit - is it really fair?

Ban “culture fit” as a reason for rejecting a candidate. When interviewers reject candidates for “culture fit” unconscious bias is often at play. Challenge your interviewers to articulate a specific explanation as a way to uncover hidden biases and have open conversations about them.

A warm reception

Check what reading materials you have in your reception area. This is where clients and candidates often spend time. If you provide magazines and newspapers, try to make sure they’re relevant to your industry as opposed to clearly gendered options.

Update your website

For 2023, take a fresh look at the images on your careers page. What demographics are represented in your photos and your leadership bios? Candidates may interpret a non-diverse careers page as a sign of a non-inclusive workplace.

When it comes to content, diversity attracts diversity. Your talent pool is seeking a safe, inclusive place where they can identify with other colleagues. Ask your current employees from underrepresented groups to write about their experiences at your business so prospective candidates get an authentic perspective.

Diversity challenges in hybrid and remote working environments

Teams are more dispersed as some employees are working remotely while others are at – or returning to – the office. Modern working arrangements can exacerbate existing diversity challenges and highlight unconscious biases. A dispersed workforce can distance employees from one another, undermining inclusivity efforts and initiatives that existed in the traditional working environment.

Looking ahead

While many companies have been putting diversity, equity, and inclusion into greater focus over the last few years, there is still room for improvement. Developing a diversity and inclusion strategy for your business has never been more important. Companies that don’t embrace diversity and inclusion in the workplace in 2023, will be left behind. Now’s the time to take action so you can be the business that’s ahead of the competition and war on talent.

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