Turning Talk about Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion into Meaningful Action

by Yvonne Smyth, Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Hays

Even though employers have increasingly understood the benefits of equity, diversity, and inclusion (ED&I), the continued progression of their commitments and the importance of turning talk to meaningful action, requires ongoing attention from employers and employees alike. This is often evidenced by the widespread support for ED&I campaigns, including Black History Month, International Women’s Day and Mental Health Awareness Week combined with the frequency of conversation about ED&I related issues. But inevitably, there is more to do to create meaningful change.

Recent research highlighted that although nearly three-quarters (70%) of professionals say their employer actively talks about the importance of ED&I, only 57% of organisations are ensuring that action takes place. However, it was also revealed that over half (60%) of professionals believe there is sufficient efforts across their organisation to recruit diverse talent.

What’s even more concerning is that over half (55%) of professionals don’t believe people from all backgrounds will ever have equal opportunity to succeed within their organisation. With these disheartening statistics, taking the steps to improve ED&I should become a strategic priority to stop potential damage to talent attraction and retention in your organisation.

Why and how to improve ED&I

With over half (57%) of professionals saying they will only consider applying to an organisation that has a public commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, evidencing your ED&I approach should be high on the agenda. The power of a clearly articulated strategy in place should never be underestimated as it provides access to a wide and diverse pool of talent.

Follow these three steps to help your organisation move conversations about ED&I into meaningful action:

  • Introduce ED&I checks and balances across your recruitment process
  • Invest in training
  • Be clear in your communication about ED&I progress

Introduce ED&I checks and balances across the recruitment process

Reviewing your recruitment strategy including the channels where roles are advertised, how you engage with jobseekers and who applicants engage with in your organisation will help you determine where changes need to be made to successfully attract a more diverse range of talent.

Flexible working used to be a really important component to enable greater diversity but as it’s now become a much more accepted and normalised working pattern. Therefore, it’s crucial that organisations continue to offer some sort of flexible working options to employees, or they risk losing out on maintaining and attracting a diverse workforce. Our recent research from the Hays Salary and Recruiting Trends found that although only (21%) of employers will let staff choose how often they work from home, compared to the 63% of employees who say this level of flexibility would be their preferred way to wok.

Checks and balances to take include:

  • Promoting flexible working options across job adverts, website and during the interview process
  • Understanding where there is under representation in your workforce
  • Drafting and promoting both job and person specs which appeal to the widest possible range of credible candidates
  • Use inclusive imagery and stories to evidence your commitments
  • Consider use of balanced slates and diverse interview and selection panels

Invest in training

Providing conscious inclusion training is a great way to improve diversity and inclusion at your organisation. Training for both managers and employees was highly rated by professionals as an effective way for organisations to improve ED&I in our research.

Delivering support and training to hiring managers will enable them to recognise and mitigate the impact of unconscious bias. Helping hiring managers and interviewers to positively encourage inclusion when professionals are looking to work with your organisation.

Equally, providing conscious inclusion training to all staff can help improve their understanding of the importance of best ED&I practice. It will enable staff to learn about behaviours and actions they may be unaware of which impact their interactions in the workplace.

Be clear in your communication about ED&I progress

Keeping staff in the loop about the plans and progress of your organisation’s commitments should be an integral part of your ED&I strategy. Over a quarter (26%) of professionals told us that their employer does not internally share the progress they are making towards improving ED&I, leaving many unaware of the action their employer might be taking. This becomes a missed opportunity to share vital progress being made with every employee.

When capturing diversity data within your organisation, making sure key stakeholders are regularly updated and understand this data will encourage better business decisions to deliver effective outcomes. This open line of communication will mean that key people will continue to champion the programmes needed to deliver change and that everyone will receive regular opportunities to check in and play a part of this change.

Also, ensuring you’ve mapped out concise policies in your recruitment strategy will provide better clarity to jobseekers on the commitment your organisation holds to equity, diversity, and inclusion. Putting this type of process in place increases your chances of attracting a more diverse range of applicants to fulfil your hiring needs.

Implementing change is not always an easy process. So, getting support and advice from ED&I experts can help you navigate potential challenges to drive changes that really make a difference – whether that’s workplace adjustments that support the inclusion of underrepresented groups or working with a recruitment partner who can ensure your job adverts are seen by a broad range of jobseekers. 

As the working world continues to evolve now is the time to drive momentum in creating more equal, diverse, and inclusive workplaces.

Article first appeared on Hays.ie

About the author
Yvonne is Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Hays, working with clients to ensure their recruitment strategies are aligned with the latest equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) policies and initiatives. Yvonne is responsible for creating and implementing diverse recruitment strategies that effectively support the representation of more diverse staff profiles within their business.