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How to make diversity a reality in Change

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insurance, investment-management, energy-utilities...

Companies openly recognise that diversity is a key commercial strategy.  It’s now gone beyond legal compliance and many realise that it has an important part to play in gaining competitive advantage.

But often companies find the whole process daunting and difficult to know where to start.  It doesn’t have to be, as these simple steps show.

It all begins with internal actions.

Diversity isn't the preserve of the HR function; it is a business wide initiative which should have board level involvement. So what can companies do to help ensure they are diverse?

  • Senior management need to drive diversity throughout the organisation.  They also need to take ownership of it.  Carving it off and giving it to someone to “do” diversity is not effective.
  • Think about language used internally. Does it alienate people?
  • Do your rewards and staff events fully include everyone i.e. are they all based around alcohol or evenings? This is important so as not to exclude people.
  • Are working practices conducive to diversity? Flexible working options have been proven to be commercially sensible but you may be putting barriers in place.
  • Does your externally facing language or images portray diversity?

Training is vital

Often businesses make the decision that diversity is a key aim and that it will drive commercial advantage. Yet for some reason they seldom invest in training when they would do for other major initiatives. There is often a misconception that diversity training is about coming in wearing flip flops and burning scented candles. That couldn't be further from the truth. In reality it's just about getting good business skills:

  • Unconscious bias is a huge issue in recruitment. Train your managers to recognise that often people gravitate to those who are just like them when interviewing and ensure they are effectively trained to avoid doing this.
  • People management and giving appraisals again need careful consideration.
  • Individual support/coaching for those who display behaviours not conducive to the environment (i.e. macho language or swearing etc.) is another important option.
  • Use your suppliers – recruitment agencies often give great free training sessions.

HR policies

Making sure you have all of the right policies in place is essential. But more than that, it's vital that you have all the right tools required.

  • Competency based interviewing around a core competency framework will help eliminate bias and ensure you are recruiting on skills. (we would be happy to take you through the Venquis competency framework)
  • Introducing an element of diversity into the appraisal process will help focus people's minds and force those who may be reluctant to step up and embrace it.

Partners

Think about partnering with some specific diversity consultancies. There are a few out there, but check their credentials.

They help clients achieve improved business performance through creative and effective solutions to equality, diversity and inclusion issues and deliver a measurable return on investment.  Some examples are:

  • Sateo
  • C2E
  • PRM Diversity Consultants

Now you are thinking about all that, how do you go about ensuring your recruitment is more diverse?

If you are using recruitment agencies, then it is vital you talk to them. Many will wax lyrical about diversity, but have little understanding about how it is actually achieved nor do they do anything above having an equal opportunities policy. Ask them:

  • What are they doing about diversity in their own organisation?
  • Do they have (or are they applying for) a recognised accreditation?
  • What support will they give you - such as running diversity events or providing toolkits?
  • Do they monitor, and can they provide, diversity statistics?

If you are not using an agency then think about where you advertise your vacancies. Ask your niche job boards or publications similar questions to the above. Get them to think about diversity for you.

Also think laterally about your recruitment strategy. If you fish from the same pool you currently do, you are not going to get anything different. Think about the skills you need and where they could be found, and look there.

It's also a great idea to consider future diversity recruitment needs. Engage with schools and colleges to encourage people to think about your industry and company as a career option.


Achieving full diversity

Only when everything comes together will true diversity be achieved. It's vital that you share your plans with your organisation and partners so that everyone can start embedding best practice and assume responsibility. It also means that when faced with a challenge you can call on a number of people to help you achieve your aims.

Implementing diversity and inclusion strategies, initiatives and high standards make a real difference to business performance, customer service, recruitment, retention and employee performance which translates into an improved bottom line for our clients.


Diversity in Change

Venquis has recently launched a ‘Diversity in Change’ Forum were the key objective is to help organisations achieve diversity. If you would like to be notified about upcoming events, news and tips or speak to one of our consultant please contact Charlotte – csmith@venquis.com