Building diversity in the workforce is a more important objective than other strong influencers such as data, artificial intelligence and interviewing tools.
A vast majority of recruiters now list diversity as a top priority, according to recent research by LinkedIn Talent Solutions. The survey, of more than 9,000 recruiters working in 39 countries, found that 78 per cent felt it was a key focus going forward.
The idea that diversity in the workforce improves performance and leads to organisational success appears to have become ingrained. Other reasons recruiters aim for diversity in selection are to strengthen company culture (78 per cent), and better reflect their customer base (48 per cent).
But what do they mean when they talk about diversity? Gender diversity was the biggest priority, followed by racial diversity.
Diversity push in unexpected places
Nor is this simply a focus for large organisations in urban areas. Interestingly, Australian agricultural and rural industries are getting also seeing the benefits, according to rural news site Beef Central.
A new study by AgriFutures shows that while only 15 per cent of rural companies have diversity strategies in place, having a diverse workforce, particularly among senior leadership, leads to a more successful business in terms of innovation and profitability.
John Harvey, managing director of AgriFutures Australia, says rural organisations need to embrace diversity trends for the sake of growth and survival in a changing world.
“Let’s give diversity a seat at the decision-making table. Our success as a sector depends on all of us working together, striving for diversity and actively encouraging new points of view in our businesses and our operations every single day. The more diverse the perspectives, knowledge and experiences available to us, the closer we get to making well-informed decisions,” Harvey told Beef Central.
Susan McNair, an expert on rural issues, has said that as an industry, agriculture has been slow to embrace the benefits of diversity.
“Historically we have expected a farmer to be a farmer’s son. Only recently industry has begun to court the idea of encouraging those from other walks of life to investigate agriculture – but tellingly we’re yet to build ownership structures and opportunities to facilitate that,” she wrote on her PR website.
“Admittedly, over the past decade those along the supply chain have incrementally – by virtue of necessity – employed migrants from various cultural backgrounds. They can typically be found in technical roles, predominantly in the larger corporates, and almost always in city-based head offices.
McNair questions why agribusiness has been reluctant to put those of different cultural backgrounds in ‘farmer facing’ roles. With reports of Chinese investment in farmland soaring, it may be that diversity will be achieved regardless of whether the industry sees fit to change from within.
How to build diversity?
So how can organisations go about implementing diversity in their recruitment practices? Here are a few pointers from HR Dive to consider when sourcing candidates:
Monitor job descriptions
Check your language when writing job listings, and always use neutral terminology. For example, “guru” can come across a bit bro-like, and “digital native” could alienate older candidates. Language is key to attracting diverse talent, as previously reported by HRM.
What’s in a name?
When reviewing CVs, don’t look at the name until after you have read about their skills and experience. It could help preclude initial gender or racial bias.
Search outside the box
Don’t resort to the usual recruitment channels. Source talent based on referrals from diverse colleagues.
Identify diversity goals
Before you start targeting, it’s important to know what you want to achieve from your diversity strategy. Identify the diversity benefits and strategise the best methods to reduce them from there.
Discover new inclusion and diversity strategies from HR experts and business leaders, at the Inclusion and Diversity Conference in Sydney on Thursday 3 May. Early bird registration closes Thursday 5 April – register now and save.