diversity hiring practices

Diversity hiring practices to help your business thrive

A recent study by TrustRadius revealed that women and people of colour are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic when it comes to their careers in tech. A staggering 72% of women reported that they’re struggling with childcare, and almost 60% of those respondents said that their responsibilities at home had increased as a direct result of the global health crisis. 

On top of that, the survey found that women in tech are also 1.6 times more likely to be made redundant or furloughed than their male counterparts during the pandemic, and people of colour working across the industry are almost 40% more likely to be concerned about their work and wellbeing than their white colleagues. There is a real danger that years of hard won diversity and inclusion gains, however small, could be lost with women, and especially women of colour, finding it harder to stay in work.

Against a backdrop of civil rights movements and the ever-expanding digital skills gap, diversity is taking centre stage for most companies. In the tech space, which is already in the midst of a massive talent shortage, revisiting your hiring practices with diversity in mind could be key to economic recovery and growth.    

4 tips for your diversity hiring best practices

1. Practice compassionate leadership

Compassionate leaders promote and foster diversity and inclusion by recognising that all individuals will have their own unique challenges, views and experiences. They take the time to listen and tailor initiatives and policies to actively support employees in the way they need.

“Try to impart an understanding of cultural stereotypes. Training on stereotypes can help to reduce seemingly playful jokes and fleeting comments that can create an uncomfortable work environment. Also, have discussions and look at training to understand unconscious bias, and encourage open communications across your team.”

Tiffany Spencer, Salesforce MVP and COO of Esor Consulting Group

According to TrustRadius, Women in tech are ‘1.5x more likely to report feeling burdened by having to care for children, the vast majority of whom have been home from school for months due to coronavirus quarantine’. The levelling of the playing field needs to ensure these factors are taken into account and that certain groups are not increasing their risk of burnout by trying to do it all.

By practicing compassionate leadership, employers listen and create solutions with employees rather than adopting a one size fits all approach. This kind of open communication can be enormously helpful for employees in alleviating some of the strain they are under.   

2. Offer improved workplace flexibility 

Previously, most organisations offered remote work as a much-desired perk, but almost overnight it’s become the lifeblood that’s kept businesses going through these challenging times. From a hiring perspective, this has allowed companies to consider and attract candidates from a much wider catchment area, and access a far richer talent pool. 

For flexible working to be effective, it needs to be baked into your company’s wider plan and corporate values, and that needs to be communicated effectively across the organisation. All employees, from C-Suite down, need to be able to see how it marries up with your objectives and vision.  

“An organisation committed to diversity and inclusion should consider designing all new roles with flexibility in mind, and advertise all roles as open to flexible working. It opens up your organisation to a whole new talent pool and sets you apart as a forward-thinking, inclusive employer.”

Nikki Slowey, Co-Founder and Director, Flexibility Works

And it really is down to communication. Employees need to not only be aware of the kind of flexible work opportunities available to them, but they also need to know that they’re supported should they wish to take advantage of those opportunities. Too many have suffered as a result of that outdated flexibility bias, and it’s on us as employer to really listen to our workforce and make sure our messaging on the topic is hitting the mark. In line with that, those in leadership positions need the have the appropriate training to support their teams in relation to flexible working, and actively encourage a healthy work-life balance.  

3. Write gender-inclusive job descriptions 

While it might seem like a minor detail, the impact of the language you use in job descriptions is major. Your choice of wording in a job advert informs a candidate’s first impression of your company, and your success when it  comes to attracting more diverse applicants depends a great deal on that initial impression. 

The way an ad is worded can have a significant, positive impact on the ratio of female to male applicants, while the inclusion of certain words, generally viewed as masculine, simply put women off applying. An insightful study by writing platform Textio looked at almost 80,000 vacancies, and the results are worth mentioning in brief. One of the big takeaways was that the inclusion of certain words that are viewed as masculine did in fact deter female applicants. And when Australian firm Atlassian implemented changes based on Textio’s research, they experienced an incredible 80% boost in female technical hires – a huge accomplishment by any standards. 

Another interesting take comes from The Next Web reporter, Cara Curtis, who gets into the meat of the topic in relation to AI-powered tools that can help you write gender-inclusive job ads. Her research revealed some interesting terms that are widely considered masculine coded, and therefore pose a problem in this context. Words like ambitious, boastful, workforce, dominate, and hierarchical were flagged as divisive – yet these are all quite commonplace among job ads.  

4. Bring in a diversity hiring partner 

There’s a distinct requirement for more fluidity in talent acquisition and an increased commitment to fostering the innovation needed to build a more agile and diverse business. 

As talent creation and diversity hiring specialists, Revolent has seen an increase in the number of people looking to add new in-demand cloud skills to their resume, from a wider range of backgrounds than ever before. Through working with Revolent, companies can diversify their own talent and gain access to new and different ideas that comes from having a broad mix of people at the table.  

While the pandemic has, and continues, to cause massive inequalities, we also have the opportunity to tap into new pools of talent like never before. The global shift to remote working, coupled with the increased availability of flexible work options, offers employers a valuable opportunity to really hone in on their diversity and inclusion efforts and build a better, fairer workplace for all. 

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