How to embed diversity into your employment process

Diversity must be the red thread in your business - from hiring to promotions

One in three UK workers has felt marginalised or excluded at work, according to a recent study conducted for the forthcoming book – Belonging: The Key to Transforming and Maintaining Diversity, Inclusion and Equality at Work.

This eye-opening survey shows that we still have a long way to go for diversity in the workplace. Diversity should be embedded into every business area, from your hiring practices to how you handle internal promotions.

As a global business with operations in countries including the UK and South Africa, customer service outsourcing provider Kura is a leader in diverse hiring.

Here, Gerald Doran, Head of Recruitment and HRSS at Kura, shares his top tips for embedding diversity into your hiring processes.

Diversity in the UK workforce

First, let’s take a look at the current state of play. Many workplaces in the UK will be diverse in ethnicity, gender, age, and sexual orientation. But others won’t be, and this diversity becomes scarcer in upper management and senior leadership. The overall picture for the UK shows we need to do more.

White groups are the most likely to be employed at 79.3%, while men have a higher employment rate in every ethnic group. Over two-thirds (41%) of LGBTQIA+ job seekers would not apply for a job with a company that lacks diversity, while the employment rate for disabled people sits at 52.7%.

As we reach board level, we don’t see a great deal of diversity. According to the Korn Ferry UK Consumer Diversity Index, almost one in five FTSE 100 companies don’t have ethnic minority members. Only two FTSE 100 companies have a female CEO.

Create an equality and diversity policy

Diversity needs to be enshrined in policy to be taken seriously in the upper echelons of your business. By laying out your commitments to equality and how your organisation aims to achieve them, you can ensure it’s enacted across all areas of your organisation. At Kura, our equality and diversity policy sits at the heart of everything we do as a business.

Your policy should outline its purpose and your commitment to diversity in the workplace. A comprehensive policy will cover how you aim to increase diversity in the workplace and how you intend to eliminate discriminatory behaviour. It’s clear that we need to do more than simply hire people from diverse backgrounds – we also need to ensure they feel safe and comfortable in the workplace.

Additional sections should include all the measures you have in place to ensure diversity within your business, as well as the behaviours you expect of all employees and a grievance procedure.

Consider a blind hiring process and an interview panel

Unconscious bias still exists in recruitment in the UK. On average, Brits with black or ethnic minority backgrounds need to submit 60% more CVs to receive callbacks from employers even if their skill set matches white jobseekers. What’s more, recruitment professionals recognise that unconscious bias is present; 79% of HR employees said it exists in recruitment.

One way to mitigate this is to enact a blind hiring process. Candidates are invited to submit their CVs and cover letter in a way that removes all demographic information, including gender, heritage, age, and location.

When it comes to the interview stage, these personal identifiers may be revealed. Having an interview panel of employees from diverse backgrounds and at varying levels of seniority in your business can help eliminate bias from the interview process and final decision. Using sample tasks in interviews can also help the recruitment panel focus on the skills of the interviewee instead of demographics.

Recognise the benefits of diversity in your workplace

The best way to understand the benefits of having a diverse workforce is to look at the benefits it’s already offering your business. You might find that your women in leadership positions are more empathetic with their employees, while managers from various ethnic backgrounds can offer different perspectives that may not have been considered otherwise.

At Kura, one of the biggest challenges our South African location faces is inherent gender biases. We ensure that we don’t apply labels at Kura – our female leaders are simply leaders. Women of colour often face more obstacles in the workplace, so we have measures to mitigate this. Our HR Business Partner at Kura South Africa, Shakti Naidoo, says: “At Kura South Africa, we have inductions and monthly sessions to directly address conscious and unconscious bias.”

As well as sessions on addressing conscious and unconscious bias, we created ‘Kura-Queens’, a space for women in the business to meet and discuss any issues around gender inequality in the workplace. Shakti says Kura-Queens has led to “a team of strong women who support, motivate, and raise each other.”

We have an equal gender split across all levels of seniority in our business. This gives us a unique, balanced workplace that values differing viewpoints and allows everyone to offer insight based on personal experiences.

As well as creating equal opportunities for promotions within your organisation, highlighting the achievements of senior leaders from diverse backgrounds is important. They will be role models for other employees as well as prospective employees. We interviewed a number of our women in leadership for International Women’s Day and shared their inspiring words on LinkedIn to inspire others.

The UK has made positive steps regarding equality and diversity in the workplace, but there is still a long way to go. Not only are marginalised groups still underrepresented in the workforce, but they also report feeling isolated and discriminated against. We have faced this challenge head-on at Kura and have several initiatives, from our comprehensive equality and diversity policy to Kura-Queens and beyond. A truly diverse workplace and recruitment process take time to enact, but these are great places to start.

Gerald Doran, Head of Recruitment and HRSS at Kura.

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