Diversity and Inclusion: Are Your Recruitment Strategies Fit for Purpose?

In the 2018 Global Recruiting Trends study published by LinkedIn, researchers found that “diversity” is one of the main concepts prized by Australian businesses. Companies in this country want to create a culture of belonging, and inclusion in their workplace. In fact, 85% of hiring managers said that diversity and inclusion are the ultimate trends dictating how they recruit.  

However, it takes more than good intentions to create a genuinely inclusive workforce. While Australia is above the global average, with a 78% diversity rating, some sectors like finance still aren’t delivering.  

Organisations still need to work out how they can work with their recruitment agencies to boost their workplace diversity, through programmes for company culture, enhanced hiring processes, and broader search patterns.   

The Gaps in Diversity and the Implications of Limited Inclusion 

Diversity and inclusion are no longer just compliance issues. Ventures throughout Australia are beginning to discover the bottom-line benefits of diversity, which include innovation, higher sales revenue and enhanced productivity. In fact, the research found that every 1% increase in diversity can correlate with a 9% increase in revenue 

Unfortunately, while many businesses are striving to implement more diverse teams, there are gaps in the current recruitment process that make inclusion harder to come by. For instance: 

  • Leaders often hire and promote employees that they can resonate with. We want to see people like us progressing, so we subconsciously seek out success in our own image. This concept, known as “affinity bias” means that managers can pay special attention to people who they feel closer to, share a background with, or simply “like” more.
  • The background of a person who previously held a role can affect whom we consider being suitable to fill a vacancy. If your previous finance manager was a 50-year old Caucasian male, then there’s a good chance you’ll look for someone like that to fill the space he left behind. However, it’s important to remember that it’s the skills and attitude of an employee that make them successful, not their appearance.
  • Social bias can also have an impact on diversity and inclusion. When competing with other leading brands, many companies attempt to hire professionals who are like the people who hold executive roles within other organisations. This means that the recruitment search becomes a quest for a specific type of person, rather than a crucial set of skills.  

Improving Diversity and Inclusion in Your Workforce  

Establishing a strategy for diversity and inclusion begins with redefining how you classify difference. Telling your recruitment company that you want to hire more women or more people from ethnic backgrounds does not make you an all-inclusive brand.

Instead, diversity is about welcoming the right candidates to your team, regardless of their appearance, background, or beliefs. It reduces focus on things like sexuality, family status, disability, educational background, gender identity, and political inclination.  

Companies that can overcome the subconscious biases of old-fashioned recruitment trends can ensure that they truly hire the right people for their team. By looking in different places, and ignoring bias, hiring managers focus on what matters: enhancing business performance. A few ways to promote diversity and inclusion in your hiring practices include: 



1. Strategically Editing Your Job Specs  

When writing a job description, many leaders get caught up focusing on the short-term, trying to add someone to their team that has a specific skill like project management. While the abilities of your new talent are necessary, remember to consider how each person you hire adds to the diversity of your team.  

Start by disregarding any criteria in your description that might promote bias. You can ask your recruitment agency to help with this. Jettison things like rigorous expectations around number of years of experience or demands for people from high-profile universities.  

Additionally, be cautious about the words you use. Terms like “competitive” and “dominant” are often more appealing to women, and less attractive to women. The way you present yourself through words is crucial to attracting the right people. There are apps available that can help you to screen for subconscious bias.   

2. Use Blind Hiring  

It may be easier for employers to overcome issues of bias in the interview process than it is to avoid them in CV screening. Studies find that bias often plays a large role in our perception of applications. For instance, CVs with names that sound familiar may appeal to managers more.  

Blind hiring is the process of asking your recruitment agency to remove the names from CVs before you receive them, so you can more objectively evaluate skills and knowledge without any bias. Some agencies can also remove additional information in the interest of fairness, including years of prior experience, or college names.  

Additionally, another way to avoid the inherent risks of recruitment is to explicitly ask your agency to present you with must-interview people from different backgrounds. Meeting with a handful of people who might not make it through your screening process in most circumstances can make it easier to re-evaluate your diversity and inclusion strategy. For instance, you might meet with a recent graduate for your financial advisor role, rather than an industry veteran.   

3. Don’t Overlook “Inclusion” 

Finally, there’s plenty of research out there that shows how diversity can deliver better outcomes for companies. SEEK found that employees consider diverse workplaces to be more creative, capable of constructing stronger teams, and ready to provide a better work experience.  

However, diversity is only one part of the hiring equation. The other ingredient is “inclusion”. After all, if companies want to access the benefits of a diverse team, then they need to ensure that their workplace culture is inclusive, embracing the differences of each new employee.  

Interviewing hires during the on-boarding process to find out what they need from you is an excellent place to get started. Additionally, companies can incorporate full communication and collaboration strategies that encourage everyone to take part in the same business goals. Not only will a diverse culture help you to retain talent, but it can also make it easier to attract a wider range of candidates for future roles.   



About JobFitts 

Job Fitts Consultants are a specialist provider of professional Recruitment Services for the Financial Services sector and related suppliers in Australia. Since 2003 we have recruited and placed a breadth of operational roles at all levels from; HR, Accounting, Marketing and Customer Service/Frontline. 

To find out more visit our website at Job Fitts here or call us on (02) 9220 3595 or email here.