#CareerCon2019: Ensuring Diversity is Real in the Workplace
While companies seem to have come a long way in spreading awareness about the various issues in workplace discrimination, there remains plenty to be desired in the actual ensurance that diversity is indeed present where we work
It’s 2019, and it is fortunate that companies and organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the value of having a diverse workplace, as the benefits go beyond meeting certain legal and moral obligations.
For one, employers that commit to recruiting from a diverse workforce have a larger pool of applicants to choose from, allowing them to find more qualified candidates but using less time and resources. On the other hand, those who don’t recruit from diverse talent pools risk missing out on qualified candidates, and spending more time and resources as they do.
It is also advantageous to an organization to be able to think with a wider breadth of perspectives, through professionals with a comparatively wide range of ideas, skills, and experience. This ultimately helps their bottomline, as employing people who can contribute different things to the company often means more things are simply accomplished.
Indeed, promoting diversity in the workplace should be a top goal of any employer, recruitment consultant, or HR professional. However, many companies unfortunately still fall short in meeting these goals, and are either “too busy” to implement diversity initiatives or, worse, aren’t even aware that aspects of their company culture are contradictory to it.
While there surely is plenty of work to be done, ensuring diversity is real in the workplace isn’t as grand an undertaking as it seems. Speaking at the first ever CareerCon held last July at Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati, QUIDDITY Usability Labs CEO Denise Haak shared that the devil is in the details.
Haak shares that to be able to successfully begin building a more diverse work culture is to first make sure it is outright part of all the company’s planning.
"When it comes to profiling for your company, you might want to make a diverse plan for profiling. Measure your diversity quotient regularly. Then publish, and let them (women, persons with disabilities, etc.) know that while you can’t find them, you want to hire them."
For the best possible plan, Haak suggests that even the team tasked to make plans for diversity must also be a mix of diverse individuals, as the many representations will ensure all perspectives are considered.
Start from the ground, up
People generally acclimate to certain habits or cultural practices when exposed at an early age. According to Haak, a culture of diversity, like any other, is similarly better sustained when imparted to employees early on.
“Build diversity from the bottom up, even with interns. They’re trained from the ground up, so they’ll carry the diversity quotient as they move up in your company.”
Indeed, while company leaders set the standard/s of company culture, it is almost always up to everyone else to embody the aspects of that culture, be it diversity or any other, and it comes most naturally when given a chance to grow into it.
Also consider the practical barriers
A truly diverse workplace means that all employees have access to equal opportunities and peripherals regardless of age, gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or... class. It is this last aspect, according to Haak, that is comparatively often most overlooked.
While companies these days have made strides to hire people varying cultural backgrounds, the practical barriers some candidates have had to contend with continue to not be as duly addressed when offering them opportunities.
“While companies have done better in overlooking gender or religion when hiring, they forget that some are still unable to take on opportunities because of practical concerns like money or a lack of formal education (but not skill). So also consider the practical barriers. Money, education, general perceptions.These can be barriers to people entering an industry.”
Go beyond the usual
Another aspect with ensuring there is diversity in the workplace that is often overlooked is how recruiting from more or less the same circles or talent pool may actually limit it. According to Haak, while referrals make hiring easy from a verification standpoint, it contributes little to, and even outright stops, diversity.
“Be wary of hiring people from referrals. That is the fastest way to kill diversity. You are contributing to the lack of it, because you are hiring from the same social circles.”
So while a seemingly little adjustment to make, considering looking beyond referrals and the typical locations, alumni groups, and even hiring agencies can help ensure that the hires are not only qualified but also diverse.
Walk the talk
In this era of digital media, it can be easy to come across as a company which champions diversity, but a little more challenging to practice what one actually preaches 24/7. According to Haak, the best way to get accustomed to pushing for diversity, even sans a marketing campaign, is to put it into practice in all aspects of the business, even the small ones.
“Walk the talk. Display diversity in all you do. From as little as the pictures you use on your website, the way you set up your facilities, to the people you hire, the clients you cater to, and to how you communicate to the world in general. Ensuring diversity is real in the workplace must be constant, and every little bit helps.”
Baby steps are still steps, and any aspect of a company’s operations which can be leveraged towards something beneficial, in this case diversity, should be given serious consideration.
For more photos and highlights of CareerCon, click here.
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