Guest Blog by Nick Shaw, MD at 10x Psychology
Building a diverse work environment is a key priority for any business. Every new employee hired is an opportunity to bring a different skill, level of experience and approach to the table. As a result, widening this pool of talent can greatly enhance a company’s performance by bringing new ideas into the mix.
Diversity also makes good business sense, with a study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) revealing that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue. The problem, however, is that HR departments are often under so much pressure to fill certain diversity quotas, be it race, gender, disability or other traits, they risk overlooking other suitable candidates.
As such, businesses need to consider what diversity really means in practice, and whether building an inclusive environment is actually a better goal. A workplace that welcomes anyone – from any background – is likely to yield better results than an organisation that is trying to showcase a diverse range of employees.
Avoiding the checklist
Some companies still treat diversity as a ‘box-ticking’ exercise. Others assume that simply interviewing a more diverse range of candidates will create a more inclusive work environment. While these methods can go some way towards ensuring that a business is widening its talent pool, both have serious draw backs.
Shortlisting candidates based purely on diversity won’t deliver the best talent. In fact, this model actually undermines the importance of inclusivity in the business, as it defines applicants by who they are, rather than what they can contribute.
It’s important for managers to obtain a broader understanding of each candidate, looking at their personality, mindset and the skills they can bring to the organisation when assessing their suitability. Taking this more measured approach allows a business to build an organisation that ranks candidates based on their ability to do the role, and to do it well.
There are also wider factors to consider when recruiting, such as team dynamics and how well the new recruit will fit into the existing team. Employers need to look at each candidate’s ambitions and determine whether these can be supported. If candidates feel disengaged with the business, it will inevitably impact their motivation and their output – no matter how skilled they are at the role.
There is also the issue of unconscious bias and how an interviewer’s own beliefs and experiences can impact hiring decisions. A structured interview process can help businesses to overcome these biases and use identify the best person for the role – not just in terms of the candidate’s skill and ability, but also on how they will integrate into the team and grow over time.
For interviewers, measuring the candidate against this baseline will enable more focussed conversations, less generic questions and the ability to weigh the new hire’s skills against the priorities for the business. The overall result will be a business that achieves diversity and promotes inclusivity by hiring the right staff for the role, rather than allowinga tick-box approach to skew their decisions.
Removing diversity quotas, building inclusivity
Diversity quotas can be limiting for any business. By removing these restrictions from the recruitment process and focusing on the qualities that define a successful employee, the organisation is far morelikely to find the best person for the job.
Building a clear profile of what success looks like for different roles will also help to define exactly what attributes the business needs before the hiring process even begins. The result will be a company that welcomes all employees, while ensuring they have the traits, skills and abilities needed to help the business grow and succeed.