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5 ways to improve diversity & inclusion in your workforce in 2019

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2018 broke new ground in raising issues around diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Prompting international brands, such as Netflix and Uber, to increase diversity in leadership positions within their organisations.

As awareness grows amongst the general population, for businesses, having a documented and transparent diversity and inclusion strategy is now expected.

Research shows that companies that are more diverse perform better. According to McKinsey, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity outperform their competitors by 15%. While those in the top quartile for ethnic diversity outperform their competitors by 35%.

Businesses are increasingly recognising how diversity and inclusion:

  • Benefits a business financially
  • Positively impacts employee satisfaction and decision-making within the company
  • Attracts higher quality talent

It's not enough for businesses to simply outline a diversity and inclusion policy, they need to document a strategy to put that into practice.

How can your business increase its diversity and inclusion efforts for your workforce going into 2019? Here are five ways to get started.

1. Build a referral program that promotes diversity and inclusion

According to LinkedIn's Talent Blog, referrals are thesource for one-third of all new hires. While referrals are a great way to attract talent, if you already have a diversity issue in your workforce, your referral program could be adding to that problem.

Marketwatch says men of colour are 26% less likely to receive a referral, while women of colour are 35% less likely. Restructuring your referral program to reward diversity can help boost diverse referrals. A higher referral bonus for diverse candidates is an easy way to drive this.

2. Provide an equal amount of mentoring opportunities for minorities

McKinsey's 2018 Corporate Pipeline report shows a significant drop-off from entry level to higher-level positions for minorities.

McKinsey 2018 Corporate Pipeline

A lack of mentorship opportunities for minorities could be a factor. McKinsey's Women in the Workplace report says only 36% of women of colour say that their managers even give them advice on how to advance at work. Those who do receive coaching, however, are more likely to move up to higher positions.

An emphasis on mentorship opportunities for minority workers can help combat the unconscious biases when promoting in the workplace and give minorities the confidence and tools to move up in the workplace.

3. Report on your diversity and inclusion progress

Reporting on your diversity numbers in the workplace ensures the business is fully accountable. It forces a company to reflect on progress and is a tangible way to raise awareness of how the company is doing for current and future employees.

Over the last few years, companies like Google, Facebook and HubSpot have committed to regularly release diversity reports to ensure that they're on-track for a more inclusive workplace.

hubspot representation by ethnicity us

Report on metrics such as representation by ethnicity, gender and age is a great start. This is also a great opportunity to raise awareness of any initiatives in place to improve diversity and inclusion in your workplace, such as partnerships with D&I organisations and non-profits, as well as internal societies for minorities.

4. Remove unconscious biases in job descriptions

Your job descriptions unconscious bias could mean your organisation is losing out on top talent and furthering the gender imbalance in certain roles and departments.

For example, in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industry, only 25% of those working in Ireland are women. By the same token, tech companies are guilty of using titles that include words like 'hacker', 'ninja', 'rockstar', 'guru', and 'superhero', which can be more male-orientated pronouns.

Language bias has been proven to predict the gender of your new hire. Words like: 'analyse', 'determine, 'competitive' and 'dominate' attract men, while 'collaborative', 'supportive' and even 'committed' are widely associated with femininity.

Using descriptive and neutral titles will help counteract this. A tool called 'Gender Coder for job ads' is great at identifying any words that can lean more to a certain gender.

5. Embrace flexible working

A recent study found that women with children and partners are 5.5 times more likely to do all or most of the household work than men in the same family situation. The 'Child Penalty', where one person focuses on their career and the other carries out the bulk of the household and child-bearing duties, only serves to reinforce the workplace gap between men and women.

Providing flexible work hours will allow both genders to further their careers while equally distributing the work at home, which will make good business.

For example, Diageo is identifying roles across the business that are particularly suitable for part-time and have created a job share and flexible job design portal allowing employees to indicate that they are interested in a job share and find potential job share partners.

Overall, with the current emphasis on diversity and inclusion in the workplace in 2019, it makes good business sense to increase efforts to make your workplace more inclusive.

Higher referral bonuses for diverse candidates is an easy way to drive quality applications from minorities, mentorship opportunities will give all employees the confidence to move up to high-level roles.

Reporting on diversity progress in your company will make your business accountable for success and embracing flexible working will allow both genders to advance their careers equally.

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