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Why is diversity, inclusion and belonging important?

Published on 17th February 2021

​Diversity, inclusion and belonging are topics that get thrown around a lot these days. Generally, people know of these terms as companies use them religiously in their marketing to encourage people to join their company. But do people actually know their meaning and what it looks like during the recruitment process and within the workplace?

Diversity, inclusion and belonging:

Diversity, inclusion and belonging is collectively referred to as DIB’s and is an increasing requirement within company recruitment. The definition of these terms varies depending on who you ask as it can be impacted by different social, economic, cultural, personal factors.

Diversity

Google defines diversity as “Involving people from a range of different backgrounds”. In the workplace this is hiring people from various religions, demographics, identities, genders, and with different ideas and opinions.

Inclusion

“The practice of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded”. This concept is often difficult to grasp as it is an ongoing action and often felt like someone else’s responsibility to implement. In the workplace inclusion occurs when all staff act in a way that invites and respects others such as being treated fairly as well as being involved in activities and events.

Belonging

“An affinity for a place or situation”. This is strongly linked to inclusion and if done correctly in the workplace, will see employees feel connected to their team, supported by leadership, and thus empowered to do their best work.

To help you remember, think about DIB’s using the “Party Analogy” created by LinkedIn:

Diversity:

Inviting different people to the party

Inclusion:

Being asked to dance at the party

Belonging:

Dancing like no one is watching



DIB’s within the recruitment process:

Recruiters and hiring managers have a responsibility to foster and promote diversity within their business development and hiring strategies. In this sense, DIB’s comes into play when sourcing, selecting, and interviewing candidates, reading job descriptions, writing job ads and when promoting personal and company talent brands.

I encourage recruiters and hiring managers alike to consider the following to make recruitment processes holistic and inclusive for a diverse range of candidates and clients:

Terminology:

This can really influence who applies for your positions and it is important to use words that are straight forward and inclusive. Try to avoid gender-coded words and use more direct words relevant to the specifics of the role. Similarly, when writing ads and speaking to jobseekers try to avoid corporate speak as it can make entry level candidates feel underqualified if they do not know the meaning.

Bias:

Everyone is biased and has thoughts, attitudes and stereotypes that affect their actions & decisions. Consider your own personal conscious and unconscious bias, become aware in order to address and manage it throughout the recruitment process.

Selection Criteria:

When shortlisting job seekers, it is important to make the opportunity equal for everyone. Certain roles require specific qualifications or skills, to be a lawyer you do have to have your law degree, but it is important to ensure job seekers are not put off by the “required” vs “preferred” skills. Predetermine the selection criteria to avoid bias later. Identify the skills necessary for this role and rank them in order of importance within the job description to give the reader an idea of what is crucial to the role.

Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging within Talent Branding

Talent brand, also known as employer brand, refers to an individual company's reputation within the market. Within recruitment, talent branding is critical to attracting, engaging, and retaining diverse talent. If our personal and company values highlight diversity & inclusion, then DIB’s talent will follow and actually WANT to work with us.

For recruiters, our talent brand is unique to us and our market but should also be an easy extension of our employer and the clients we represent. There are many people who go into creating your talent brand. This includes yourself, HR & wider recruitment team, marketing, company high performers, the clients we choose to work with as well as your candidates/contractors as they represent you in the market.

Some of my top tips to have an authentic Talent brand to attract & hire DIB’s talent: ​

Audience

Research & locate your audience. Who are the underrepresented groups in your market? Who do you want to attract, apply, and place in roles? What is important to them?

Content Plan

Create a content plan to get your message across. Highlight DIB’s on all social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Websites, events, photos etc. People want to see themselves in your content so try to include images and articles from a broad and diverse range of people.

Be CONSISTENT, HONEST and AUTHENTIC!

Do not just make a symbolic effort to recruit DIB’s talent, DO IT! Lead with empathy, be specific, and facilitate a global discussion in your space! Do not be afraid to make mistakes! Remember! Go GROW through what you GO through!

For clients and companies, diverse individuals must be incorporated into leadership teams (executives, c-suite, managers) as well as included on interview panels. DIB’s centred recruitment & retention plans are crucial to creating a holistic, diverse, and welcoming workplace environment. Some things to consider are:

  • Internal programs for personal, professional & company culture development
  • Are underrepresented groups successful in your company?
  • Are you making improvements to star DIBS in your recruitment process?
  • Are you tailoring the language in your content to be inclusive?
  • How do you create a safe space for employees to be their authentic selves? (Perks, Benefits, Resources, Team Building, Surveys).
  • What are you doing as an employer to ensure diverse leadership, interview panels and company culture?
  • How does DIB’S align with your company’s long-term goals & mission statement?
View our booklet "why your employer brand matters" for further insights.

Challenges within Recruitment

DIB’s from a company perspective is often seen as a series of checklists. Something that must be ticked off to get funding or to prevent bad press in the media. This is a horrible way to look at it! It is much better to see DIB’S as a team sport- everyone working together to create a holistic culture & environment. Recruiting and onboarding DIB’s talent is important & beneficial as when effectively implemented correctly can: ​

Increase better business outcomes:

Companies in the top quartile of workplace diversity are 2x more likely to exceed their financial target, 3x higher in performance, and 6x more agile and adaptive.

Higher Competitive Advantage:

Companies in the top quartile of workplace diversity are 33% higher in performance, 2x higher in cash flow per employee and rated 170% better in terms of innovation. (Statistics taken from LinkedIn Surveys)

Despite this, companies often fail in their DIB’s recruitment due to 5 common pitfalls: ​

1.

One size fits all strategy- Companies tend to implement strategies that focus on how to leverage value differences & what employees can “do for the organisation”, rather than valuing and celebrating their individuality and unique skills/ideas.

2.

High turnover & poor retention - When companies do not understand the differing requirements of their employees they will leave. Instead of trying to identify the causes of high turnover, companies fail to utilise the data from employee surveys & exit interviews and thus fail to implement progressive change. Companies need to consider the experience of employees at ALL levels, as this data includes feelings, emotions, and real stories that provide insights on company culture or lack thereof.

3.

Challenges in growth - The flip side of the previous point is that some companies are facility to grow due to limited or unequal opportunities that negatively impacts DIB’s talent. Lack of career development or growth.

4.

No leadership support - Often company leaders fail to implement a successful DIB’S strategy, sometimes limiting HR to one person for such a massive task. Executive leaders and manager need to value DIB’s within their recruitment and HR strategies to make the culture fair & inclusive.

5.

Challenges in hiring underrepresented groups - In the workplace, underrepresented groups refer to “a subset of employees that represent a smaller percentage within the general employee pool”. These underrepresented groups vary between organisation, industry, region e.g., in the IT space women are underrepresented compared to in nursing men are.

Companies must become aware of these issues and attempt to rectify them. Recruiters must understand these common challenges to best combat and support their candidates and clients. If recruiters can understand who clients are struggling to recruit & where their gaps are, they can better source and help them with their unique DIB hiring goals and recruitment plans. As an industry we can use this data & our knowledge on DIB’s to generate better conversations and most importantly hold companies accountable for regularly hiring and promoting DIB’s talent across the board.

If you have any questions about improving your hiring plans to be more inclusive, i'd love to hear from you!