June 7th, 2024 | Sterling

Hiring with DEI in Mind 

In 2024, diversity and inclusion in the workplace remains a key focus. This is not surprising, as a study by Mckinsey reports that companies in the top quartile for both gender and ethnic diversity in executive teams are on average 9 percent more likely to outperform their peers. Meanwhile, those in the bottom quartile for both are 66 percent less likely to outperform financially on average, up from 27 percent in 2020, indicating that a lack of diversity may be getting more expensive. This is becoming particularly important in the race for technological advantage and shows that diversity and inclusion is not just a metric for optics; rather, it translates into real financial gains. 

This has also been acknowledged in Accenture’s Getting To Equal Report which indicates that diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) enable organisations to develop a competitive advantage. This is achieved by attracting top talent and fostering a supportive workforce, which encourages new ideas and perspectives, resulting in increased productivity, creativity, empathy, and innovation

In recent times, the concept of diversity has expanded to incorporate ‘inclusion’ in organisational settings. As per the Diversity Council of Australia, inclusion occurs when a diversity of people (different roles, ages, cultural backgrounds, education, genders, sexual orientation) feel valued and respected, have the same access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute their perspectives and talents equally to improve the organisation. 

How Can Organisations Hire from a Diversity and Inclusion Perspective 

There are a few subtle changes companies can make to ensure the hiring process is as unbiased as possible and drives a positive impact on increasing diversity and inclusion in the workforce. 

#1 Being Aware of Unconscious Bias 

Firstly, hiring teams should ensure that they are educated on ‘unconscious bias’ and become thoughtful and intentional about removing bias from their hiring processes. Unconscious bias happens when individuals are more likely to hire people who look like them, have the same interests, speak with the same accent, etc. given their learned assumptions around social stereotypes – can creep in and adversely affect hiring decisions. 

When writing job descriptions and questions for the interview process, it’s important to avoid nebulous terms like ‘culture fit’ or stereotypically masculine terms like ‘ninja’ or ‘rockstar’, as these terms can give rise to a wide range of subjective and biased recruitment issues. Technology now also exists to minimise human bias in the writing of job postings. For example, there is a tool that scans job descriptions to remove biased language and replaces it with wording that is more inclusionary. 

Another way to remove bias during the application process is to remove a candidate’s personal information from their resumes when considering who will move to the next stages. This ensures that resumes are compared based on objective facts, rather than based on names, photos, addresses and other personal details that can introduce unconscious bias. 

Moving away from manual screening and leaving it in the hands of professional background screening providers like Sterling helps to mitigate the risk of talent managers being exposed to candidates’ personal information. Social media screening can, unfortunately, reinforce these biases if not delivered in the appropriate way. We know only too well that this is a problem not just during the hiring process but internally too, which is why many organisations choose to outsource their pre-employment and social media screening – to leverage their compliant processes, flexible search options, global reach, and, perhaps most importantly, their technology-enabled impartiality. 

#2 Having a Diverse Hiring Panel 

For many, it’s a must to work at an organisation that supports, cultivates, and promotes DEI as a business imperative, which talent managers must highlight during the talent acquisition process. 

Employers should do their best to have a hiring panel that is as diverse as possible and from a variety of roles and job backgrounds. This can help avoid a panel with one specific experience or background looking for a candidate who reflects their same experience instead of looking more broadly and holistically for candidates who could benefit the organisation. It also helps to convey a sense of diversity to all candidates from their first interaction with the organisation, which can act as a subtle hint for candidates to assess whether they would enjoy working in a diverse and inclusive environment. 

#3 Embedding DEI as Part of Organisational Culture 

Finally, it’s important not to treat diversity and inclusion merely as a box to be checked. Diversity and inclusion do offer significant benefits to a workplace and organisation but treating it as a triviality can give rise to reverse discrimination and litigation. Think more broadly about the overall goal of diversity and inclusion and remember that diversity comes in many forms — whether it is diversity of job experience or demographic diversity.  

Diversity and inclusion are a holistic idea that works best when it pervades all business processes and systems. This starts from the recruitment processes to onboarding, all the way to the facilities and systems in place to support employees to bring their diverse backgrounds and experiences to the workplace on an ongoing basis. 

As part of recruitment, having reference checks with previous employers as part of pre-employment checks can enable talent managers to understand a candidate’s performance, attitudes, ability to work and communicated within a multi-faceted and diverse work culture. 

In a work environment, it’s been recognised that DEI must be supported, encouraged, and harnessed in a meaningful way. Examples include physically making workplaces more inclusive, such as gender-inclusive restrooms, spaces to support people with disabilities, and regularly reviewing anti-discrimination policies. 

Providing diversity training has also been recognised as an important way to continue to raise awareness and educate employees about how to achieve diversity and inclusion in the organisation and its benefits for the entire workforce. 

We hope this article provides you with actionable insights and information about diversity and inclusion. If you have any questions about the article, or how Sterling can help you with your diversity and inclusion goals – with a curated screening program which reflect local nuances,  you can  contact us today

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.