There have significant strides forward in the last couple of decades, but the U.K. still has a long way to go in terms of employment diversity. For example, the employment rate for ethnic minorities is currently only 62.8%, compared to a much higher employment rate of 83% for white people.
In addition, ethnic minority employees currently only have 1 in every 16 top management positions in the UK.
The figures aren’t looking great.
If you want to be part of the movement of employers who want a better, more diverse future, there are some things you can proactively do. A lot of these things focus on the hiring process. If we want a more diverse company, we need to hire more candidates from diverse backgrounds.
But it isn’t limited to this… To achieve diversity in the workplace we actually need to work on multiple aspects both in and outside of the office.
Here is how to do it.
1. Start Encouraging Diversity From The Inside First
To improve EDI (Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion) in your company you need to start from the inside before you jump to the outside and focus on external hiring. To attract candidates from diverse backgrounds, you need to make sure that your company is somewhere these candidates will actually want to work and feel comfortable doing so.
Working on the inclusivity of your office, however, doesn’t mean using people of ethnic minority groups as tokens. Being a “token” in the workplace can be defined as, “a member of a previously excluded group, often hired or promoted as a symbolic gesture toward inclusivity”. If you are working with inclusivity and diversity just for the sake of brand image, people will smell this a mile off. Tokenism will, in fact, do more damage to your image than good, and it is not something we are striving for in this day and age.
What you want to do is encourage genuine, long-lasting levels of diversity and inclusion in your company and measure them regularly. This could include:
- In the form of guest speakers and internal seminars run by people with expert knowledge or experience in the specific matter.
- Strict policies on discrimination and harassment. Showing your colleagues and potential new colleagues that these things are taken seriously, with a zero-tolerance policy. Even if it is under the thin guise of “banter”.
- Consistency and following through. If you come up with a plan to tackle diversity issues in your workplace, follow through. Don’t use BME or disabled people as tokens in your brochure and forget to support them long-term.
2. Publish Your Diversity Figures and Any Progress Made
Being transparent is a non-negotiable for every company in 2022 and beyond. When it comes to diversity and diversity figures, there are no exceptions.
To attract candidates from diverse backgrounds and help diversify your company, you need to be transparent with the current landscape of your company and its employees. Publishing not only your current figures but your previous ones help show the world that you are a company that holds itself accountable for its own progress and growth.
Don’t hide figures because you are worried about a reaction, be transparent in showing that you are committed to change and progress through tangible means. This also means publishing your strategies for implementing change and committing publicly to implementing them.
Any less implies complacency.
And company complacency won’t attract diverse candidates to any job openings you may have.
3. Provide Internal Training Opportunities
Even experienced recruiters and hiring managers can find it difficult to avoid unconscious bias. Even if we don’t want to believe it of ourselves, we can unconsciously be exclusionary more often than we think, especially in the recruitment process.
There are two main ways to fight against this.
- Provide training for recruiting staff. Simple as that. Bring in outside forces who will be able to draw attention to unconscious biases and provide a foundation for a more fair and equal recruitment process within your company.
- “Invite diversity of discussion”. Diversity doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t come from one training session. Your recruitment staff, in particular, need to become familiar and comfortable with equality, diversity, and inclusion. Make this a focal point of their work and your management, keep working specifically with diversity in mind, and keep the focus on progress within diversity. It takes commitment and consistency.
Once your recruitment staff are well-trained and well-versed in diversity, a lot of positive, lasting change can happen in the hiring room.
4. Reconsider Application Criteria and Filtering of Candidates
If we are looking to avoid all types of discrimination including racism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, sexism, xenophobia, ableism, and so on, as we well should be, then we need to think about how we are considering candidates in the first place.
Going back to unconscious biases, there are ways in which we gatekeep jobs and careers without even realising them sometimes.
Some application criteria can be exclusionary and discriminatory. If we want to attract candidates from diverse backgrounds, our application criteria need to be inclusive and accessible.
Some criteria that can gatekeep jobs include:
- University degrees given top access
- Office working with no flexibility
- Rigid working patterns
- Requiring no gaps in employment
And so on.
If you want a diverse workplace, you need to prevent your application process from filtering out perfectly good candidates based on rigidity or tradition.
Keep things focused on individual people, their skills, and what they can offer your company.
5. Think Carefully About Your Job Adverts
Inclusive job adverts are extremely important when it comes to creating a diverse workplace.
The job advert/posting is the first point of contact a potential employee has with you and your company. If this step goes wrong, you could easily be discouraging great potential candidates. If you get it right, you could be well on your way to creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
In your job advert, you need to show potential candidates that you are going to be an equal employer that cares about diversity and inclusivity. You can do that by proactively addressing the topic and outlining your corporate strategy for EDI, as mentioned earlier. You can also do it by making the job posting accessible in and of itself.
This could look like:
- Avoiding exclusionary application criteria, as discussed above
- Making the posting accessible for all kinds of readers and potential applications
- Avoiding gendered, heteronormative, or white-centred language
- Avoiding assumptions or stereotypes
- Promoting equal access to all communities and types of people; stating you have an equal opportunities policy
Your job advert is your first stage of the recruitment process, if it fails, then so does the rest of the process.
To sum up, having an equal, diverse, and inclusive workplace is important for you and everyone around you. To achieve such a workplace, you need to start by attracting candidates from diverse backgrounds and showing them that your company is a safe, accessible and enjoyable place for them to be.
For more help with creating inclusive job adverts, attracting diverse candidates, and being an accessible employer, check out our services for employers or get in touch.
You can also post your accessible and inclusive job vacancies on our specialist job board designed for diversity.