How to Diversify Your Workforce

Workplace diversity recognises the unique strengths of each employee and their potential to make a positive impact on the success of the organisation. A commitment to diversity also enables a more talented workforce to be recruited: you can access a richer candidate pool to source employees with a wider range of skills, experiences, and personalities. This helps to generate mutual respect between colleagues and builds a more cohesive and mutually dependent team.

Increasing and sustaining workplace diversity, and overcoming counteracting influences such as prejudicial attitudes and unconscious bias, is a priority for most businesses. However, what steps can you take to actively incorporate diversity into your talent acquisition and recruitment strategies?

Understand What Diversity Is… and Isn’t.

A recruitment policy that embraces diversity isn’t possible without a comprehensive understanding of what a diverse workforce is. While many people will automatically think of ‘race’ and gender when considering diversity – which are undeniably important factors – there are other characteristics upon which to reflect, including:

  • Age
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disabilities, both physical and hidden
  • Personality types
  • Opinions
  • Skills
  • Experiences
  • Religious beliefs

The purpose of diversity is to embrace the stories, outlooks, and identities people bring to the table as strengths, and to avoid excluding people from suitable positions because of a lifestyle choice or physical characteristics.

What diversity isn’t is a box-ticking exercise, in which you fill your team with X people from each arbitrary category. This doesn’t usually work in practice because humans aren’t that straightforward. People may or may not strongly identify with the categories they are placed in, and normally identify with several categories to a greater or lesser degree – something that can and does change over time. Furthermore, two people in the same category are likely to have more points of difference than things in common. A ‘paint by numbers’ diversity strategy of this nature risks creating artificial distinctions within your team and may prevent you from sourcing the best talent from wherever it is available.

Exercise Caution When Writing Job Descriptions

In recruitment advertising, diversity hinges on not excluding people who may be interested. Words can be incredibly powerful and misleading, so care must be taken when writing job descriptions and person specifications. These documents are crucial for giving candidates an insight into the roles within your organisation; however, if misconstrued, they could impact the types of people who apply.

All documents relating to an opening in your company should encourage applicants to come forward, rather than inadvertently discouraging candidates. The more people who apply, from all backgrounds, the better chance you’ll have of appointing the right people to your business.

Use Unconventional Routes To Attract Applicants

Traditionally, the UK’s Security Services advertised for new recruits through mysterious classified advertisements in the country’s broadsheet newspapers, homing in on conservative-leaning, university-educated white men. Modern recruitment, however, demands a more open-ended strategy to access the hidden talent pool seeking employment outside the conventional routes.

Advocacy groups who represent minority groups, for example, can help to attract more diverse candidates, while specialist recruitment agencies can access many channels to increase the numbers applying to work for you.

Make Your Physical Workspace Accessible

Ensuring that your workspace is accessible for people with disabilities is often forgotten until the moment a new recruit starts work. But if you’re holding recruitment or onboarding days, the presence of cluttered or inaccessible workspace is likely to deter some candidates (as well as giving your business a poor reputation for equality).

Therefore, make sure that measures are implemented from the beginning to make applicants with disabilities feel welcome, valued, and supported.

Entrust Your Recruitment To Blue Octopus To Diversify Your Workforce

Across the world, diverse workforces are commonplace, shaping talented and forward-thinking teams who propel their businesses to the forefront of their industries. At Blue Octopus, we’re committed to helping our clients enjoy the benefits of diversity. To find out more about how to improve diversity in your business, please get in touch today, or download our free Diversity & Inclusion guide.

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