Dispelling the myths around workplace diversity, equity and inclusion

Hogan Assessments takes a look at popular DEI and work-life preconceptions

Embracing diversity, designing equitable practices, and creating an inclusive work culture is fundamental for every prosperous company. Research shows that workplaces that ensure diversity enjoy more success and attract more innovative employees than workplaces that don’t. However, even if numerous positive strides have been made in recent years, several myths continue to reinforce the belief that discrimination in workspaces is a thing of the past.

The experts at Hogan Assessments – the global leader in workplace personality assessment and leadership consulting – have thoroughly examined the truth behind three of these superstitions to determine how accurate these statements are and what work still needs to be done to ensure meaningful diversity, equity, and inclusion is achieved.   

I. The Tech Myth: Technology leads to more diversity, equity, and inclusion

Technology has played a major role in allowing companies to become more diverse,  providing solutions that cater towards a more global workforce, like translators that bridge language barriers or remote working setups that promote global collaboration. Technology has also helped when it comes to addressing equity issues within an organisation, as the use of reports created by programmes that analyse a company’s workforce can let upper management know what groups are lacking when it comes to hires and what issues within their interview process need to be examined to address these shortcomings.

“The increased reliance on technology for recruiting and hiring has also created biased outcomes. We have seen employers using social media to target specific populations with their job advertisements or candidates with limited access to suitable WiFi or computer solutions creating a situation where not everyone has the same opportunities to apply for a job,” analyses Kimberly Nei, PhD, director of talent analytics at Hogan Assessments.

study looking into the digital divide between workers in Europe determined that the digitally excluded will be at a significant disadvantage when finding a job in the future as most jobs will require some form of digital skills, and the majority of employment opportunities will only be found online. Further, research has also shown that some technologies (e.g., voice recognition) have shown bias against minorities.

II. The Covid Myth: COVID has made the workplace more diverse

One of the biggest shifts that the pandemic prompted in terms of work culture was the move to remote working. It is believed by many that a major group to benefit from this culture change is those living with disabilities. While some countries noted that the disability employment gap narrowed in 2020 due to the rise in remote working, global figures show that the pandemic has had a devastating effect on disability employment rates. Research has determined that during COVID, individuals with disabilities were among the most likely to lose their jobs and be unable to find new employment, largely due to the serious health risks the virus posed to them and a lack of temporary work to fall back on. 

When examining the impact COVID has had on D&I within the workforce, its negative impact on a large percentage of the workforce is undeniable, particularly when we focus on women. Research by the International Labour Organisation into the impact of COVID-19 found that women were disproportionally impacted by job losses across all sectors, particularly among service and sales workers. The female unemployment rate accounted for nearly 62% of job losses.

III. The Recruitment Myth: Changing hiring processes have led to a more diverse workforce   

While there certainly has been a switch in mindset when it comes to diversity and inclusion over the past couple of years, claiming that a change in hiring processes has fixed systemic issues regarding recruitment is simply not true. A report on ethnic discrimination in hiring found that globally minorities were less likely to be called in for a second interview than their white counterparts, and if that minority was a first-generation immigrant (not born in the country they were seeking to be employed in) the likelihood that they would gain a follow-up meeting reduced even further.

Typical interview methods are often subject to heavy personal bias, even if this is unconscious on the part of the hiring party, meaning that switching up the approach regarding recruitment can only do so much while this bias remains. “At a fundamental level, any institutional change will fail if leaders and hiring managers aren’t driven to build a climate that encourages diversity, equity, and inclusion. Addressing our personal biases is crucial when it comes to making actual strides forward in the fight for a more inclusive workforce,” noted Nei.   

Towards a more inclusive working environment

Personality tests may be the answer for companies looking for meaningful ways to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion within their corporation. Personality assessments promote fairness in selection by allowing organisations to better predict an individual’s performance without discriminating, erasing bias, both conscious and unconscious, from the process. These tests ensure that the best candidate for the job is hired regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, socioeconomic status, or other factors that may have led to discrimination in a traditional interview scenario.

Personality tools can also be used to identify and develop leaders who will enhance diversity and inclusion within a company, helping to promote a more inclusive management structure that considers a broader selection of perspectives, leading to a more diverse workplace.   

Summarising the advantages of personality assessments for companies looking to cultivate a more diverse workforce, Nei said. “At Hogan, we gather personality data from millions of people from virtually every background all over the world on an annual basis.

“Our data show no meaningful differences in test scores as a function of group status, so you can be sure that you are hiring solely based on a candidate’s merits and results, erasing any bias and enabling a truly neutral hiring system.”

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