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How diversity can strengthen your business

Denise Keating, CEO of the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion (enei), joined Robert Walters at their London office to discuss the latest Robert Walters research paper Diversity and Inclusion in Recruitment and to explore how a strong diversity policy can benefit businesses.

Denise explained that it is important for businesses to understand the distinction between equality, diversity and inclusion when they are looking to create a workplace which values difference and fosters collaboration.

“In the past, ‘equality’ was seen as the priority by many businesses and this simply meant ensuring compliance with government legislation on equal opportunities,” Denise Keating explained.

“However, as organisations have come to recognise the strong business case for a diverse workforce, the emphasis has shifted to developing policies which actively encourage candidates from diverse backgrounds to apply and to shape an inclusive company culture.”

Developing an effective diversity strategy depends on collaboration between stakeholders throughout the business, and clarifying who has responsibility for driving change is essential.

Diversity requires collaboration

Many employers are divided over who should take the lead in developing a diversity strategy. 56% believe it is a task for senior management, while 35% believe that HR should be responsible and 9% feel that it should be addressed by internal marketing teams.

“Traditionally, diversity was seen as a concern for HR teams to address, but we have seen senior managers become increasingly engaged in making their workplace inclusive,” said Denise.

“It is by encouraging collaboration between all departments that employers can build the most effective diversity strategy and ensure that it is communicated to their clients and potential new employees.”

Recognise the impact of unconscious bias

Identifying potential barriers to inclusion within the culture of a company can also be a significant challenge. Frequently, managers may be making hiring decisions unconsciously based on criteria which are not related to the job role but nevertheless influence their judgement when choosing to hire someone.

Managers are aware of this issue, with 81% recognising the potential unconscious bias has to influence their decisions. However, 42% of employers have no strategy in place to address and reduce unconscious bias.

Similarly, employers may inadvertently discourage professionals from certain backgrounds from applying for roles through the use of exclusive language in job advertisements. Particular terms may suggest to jobseekers that the company is looking not only for someone with the right skills and experience but who fits a pre-conceived image.

“For employers who want to take steps to minimise the impact of unconscious bias when attracting candidates, a number of tools are available,” added Denise Keating.

“Services are available online which can analyse the language used in job adverts, highlighting words or phrases which have the potential to dissuade candidates from diverse backgrounds from applying. Employers can use these insights to refine their approach to writing job adverts and ensure that they are attracting candidates from the broadest possible talent pools.”

Read the full research publication Diversity and Inclusion in Recruitment or find out more about other Robert Walters whitepapers.

The Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion is the UK’s leading employer network covering all aspects of equality and inclusion in the workplace. In addition to supporting employers, their role is to influence Government, business and trade unions, campaigning for real practical change.  

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