Recently some of the team here at Arc IT Recruitment spent an inspirational and educational week attending the Women in Technology World Series. This online festival was attended by 10,000 IT professionals from around the world and was packed with presentations, workshops and networking events. Over the coming weeks we will be reflecting on some of our key takeaways from the event and the impact they have on both employees and employers.
One of the strongest themes running through the festival was the importance of diversity within the workplace. Many businesses have a genuine desire to increase diversity but how can it be achieved and what are the potential barriers that stand in the way?
Recruitment – there are many simple and highly effective ways in which changes to recruitment processes can improve diversity including:
- Writing less restrictive job specifications – consider which of the criteria is essential for the role. For example, is 5 years of specific industry experience absolutely necessary or could someone with less experience or a different background do the job? This could immediately open roles up to a larger potential pool of candidates. Even a simple thing such as the type of language used can dramatically change the number of people who think they may be suitable for a role.
- Offering flexible working options - where possible offer flexibility to encourage candidates who have other commitments, such as childcare, to apply. This could include options on remote working or job shares.
- Putting together diverse interview panels – people identify with others who they feel resemble them so having a diverse interview panel will, naturally, make your company more attractive to a more diverse candidate pool. If your diversity is currently limited emphasise your commitment to diversification moving forward when engaging with prospective employees.
- Learning from exit interviews – when people do leave the organisation ensure you are asking the difficult questions regarding perceptions of inclusion and diversity. This valuable information can help shape polices moving forward and also highlight successes and areas where improvement is needed.
Know your workforce – within small businesses those in leadership positions are likely to know everyone by name, in fact, they were probably involved in hiring most of them but within large organisations this is simply not realistic. Data is key here. Do not just anecdotally assume that all hiring and promotion is fair across all teams and departments. Collecting data relating to race, religion, sexual orientation etc… can help give a clear overview of how inclusive your hiring and promotional policies are. It is, of course, essentially that this highly sensitive data is collected, handled and stored respectfully and additional security and privacy training may be necessary to ensure this is managed correctly.
Equality of pay – although much has been done here there is still, often, a significant disparity in the salaries paid to men and women performing similar roles. Promoting fair and equal pay will make any business more attractive to a more diverse array of candidates.
Company culture – it is important to consider if your company’s culture is promoting diversity. Creating a significant change will require buy-in at all levels from senior leadership downwards. It is important to remember that the majority of people are not knowingly biased. Overcoming unconscious bias based on background, life experience and belief systems is essential here. Formal training may be required to raise awareness of issues such as implicit bias, privilege awareness and microagressions that may act as barriers to diversity.
Mentorship – the ultimate long-term goal for many businesses is to have diversity within senior leadership roles. Mentorship, either internal or external to the business, can be a very powerful tool to help nurture, grow and inspire talent within an organisation.
Although there are clearly some barriers to creating workplace diversity it is also clear that diversity of thought, experience and approach has the potential to create a dynamic and culturally rich environment with increased innovation, productivity and, ultimately, profitability that can only be of benefit to all employees and employers.