How HR can put diversity first

Guest blog By Alexandra Anders, EMEA Talent Director, Cornerstone OnDemand 

Diversity over ability that’s what matters to millennials and Gen Z, research recently revealed. For these generations, employees from all backgrounds being fairly represented is the key for a great workplace and diversity is more important than hiring new employees based on their skills.

Yet, businesses are still failing to address problems of equality and transparency. Not to name names but we’ve all seen the ongoing issues at Google.

While there may be no quick-fix or overnight solution, there are ways that you can and should take action now.

Take a good look at yourself 

First things first, how you promote yourself as an employer. To the outside world, do you seem like a fair workplace with an open work culture? This perception isn’t all down to your PR and marketing team’s efforts, but HR also plays a vital role. Before you even start the process for making that crucial new hire, take a look at your job adverts, the vocabulary and phrases used and what they say about you. Do they give an impression that you’re inclusive and offer equal opportunities for all your staff?  Or, that you are just seeking younger, carbon copies of current employees that would fit straight into the established company mould? You may well be putting off candidates before they even apply.

But remember, what you say still has to reflect the reality, potential employees will soon recognise any claims that don’t quite hold up.

The way that you hire also needs to change, especially when it comes to salary expectations and offers. Rather than decreasing, the gender pay gap is widening and this is even at entry-level jobs. Part of the problem lies with the mindsets of both potential employees and employers. While a female candidate may be happy with a salary of £50k a year, for example, a male candidate may be asking for double that. If you employ them both at these respective salaries, they will be happy but that pay gap will persist throughout both of their careers – this could lead to resentment in the end. Instead, review pay by the job role, level and function to offer the appropriate salary, and stick to it!

Delve deeper 

Recruitment is just the first step towards creating greater equality. When you’re looking to build a diverse workforce you also need to retain people. The recent revelations from companies submitting their pay gap reports shows how too often a company’s first and only response will be to launch a big diversity recruitment push. After that they see this as a job done – but that’s only the start. HR needs to reflect not only on hiring practices but also internal rewards and policies and the rest of the employee lifecycle.

Google’s recent decision to compensate ‘underpaid’ male employees is testament to the fact that companies should also be reviewing bonuses and raises on an ongoing basis by role and set criteria. Companies need to have clearly defined objectives for employees receiving a pay rise or bonus and more importantly, these need to be clearly communicated across the whole business, setting the same ‘laws’ for equal treatment for all. This ensures that compensation and promotions are not only clear to managers but also to all employees and are rewarded based on merit not on gender, ethnicity or background.

Bring others with you

Of course, following these new principles will also involve an adjustment of mindsets and attitude – this is particularly important among management. The HR department can help and encourage this through training, but it may be that you still come up against some resistance – not everyone is open to change. In these circumstances, it’s vital to open up communication, allowing employees to voice their concerns and to talk through the reasons for change together. In large organisations especially, there will be certain local nuances and cultural considerations, but you also have a company culture – your role in HR is to set this out and lay the company ‘laws’.

Businesses will only be able to put diversity first if they’re committed to making change and there can only be a real shift in the workplace if everyone wishes to move together. HR needs to push to make this happen.


Author: Editorial Team

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