It’s sometimes hard to stand firm in your beliefs when others around you are falling down in theirs.
What I am talking about is diversity in recruitment. I am extremely proud of the fact that at Selection Partners our recruitment division is staffed by recruiters who I know are true diversity recruiters. We genuinely strive to find the best person in the market for our clients regardless of age, gender, race, religion, sexual identification or disability. Whilst we are open to finding a person who can fulfil the requirements of the role embracing diversity, some of our clients in reality are less so.
I’m not criticising any organisations, I am simply saying that some organisations are not yet there in terms of embracing Diversity and Inclusion. Becoming a true diversity employer takes time and the journey is not always easy. Organisations are made up of individuals who have their own prejudices and unconscious bias regardless of the Diversity and Inclusion edict that comes down from the MD.
We like to ask our clients if they have any diversity policies in place that would be helpful for us to know about. This is useful to us because, if for example we know our clients have an inclusive culture for LGBTI, we are more comfortable shortlisting someone who we know is going to have a positive experience and therefore an opportunity to progress rather than shortlist them for an organisation which has an environment where they may feel uncomfortable.
If we know our clients are proactively addressing their gender balance, searching harder to find a 50/50 gender mix for a shortlist is time well spent. According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) in 2012 women held only 9.2 per cent of executive roles in the ASX 500. Alarmingly there has been little increase in the number of female executives over the past decade in Australia. If we (Selection Partners) can proactively present a gender balance in the short list then this can only help improve these statistics.
On the flip side, whilst some organisations tell us they are open to recruit the ‘right’ person as they support diversity and inclusion, the reality is quite different when they are faced with a shortlist. Sometimes we jokingly say that the MD/CEO simply forgot to tell their Line Managers or recruitment team that they welcome diversity, viewing it as a positive for their organisation.
Last year as a commitment to helping ‘mature age’ workers ( FYI – that’s people over 45 years of age – which from where I sit, doesn’t seem old !) we showcased three mature age workers, one in Queensland, one in Victoria and one in NSW, who had been interviewed and rated highly, all were 55 years plus. We offered to place these unemployed people FREE OF CHARGE into any organisation who wanted them. I was disheartened but not surprised to see that only one of these people was interviewed by our clients. These three candidates were talented individuals who would have added great value to an employer. A survey by the Australian Human Rights Commission revealed one in 10 bosses won’t hire a worker older than 50. Had these candidates been in their 20’s or 30’s the reaction may have been different.
Whilst we all know discrimination is illegal, sometimes people do not even realise they are discriminating. I’d like to highlight this with a case against Woolworths earlier this year, where they were ordered to pay $5,000 in damages to an applicant (Willmott) because they foolishly asked for his date of birth and gender on an application form. Come on Woolies!!
Virgin in the UK was also in the news a while ago when Liberian-born Max Kpakio’s job application was allegedly rejected for a role because of his African name. He discovered this by re-applying for the job using an Anglo-Saxon sounding name Craig Owen, and was then invited several times to attend an interview. “There was an enormous difference in the way I was treated when I used a British name,” he said. The case was never proved, however I do think it raises an interesting discussion for us here in Australia.
The City of Helsinki has recently begun a pilot scheme using anonymous CVs when recruiting staff as a German study last year found that anonymous applications helped level the playing field for job applicants.
Why be diverse?
Other than simply the right thing to do, bringing together people with different backgrounds and experiences results in more cognitive processing, more information exchange and more perceptions of issues. New ideas emerge and people learn from each other solving problems in the process. People who have different genders and cultures have different ideas and approaches.
Deloitte noted in a 2011 report, “When an authentic, inclusive culture is at work, a diverse workforce is capable of producing a range of original and engaging ideas that is simply not possible among homogenous employee populations. At the top of the organisation, this can translate into more apt and financially rewarding decision-making.”
- Measure your current diversity situation. If you don’t have a clear picture of where you are now, how can you improve? For example, last year Google showed their demographics were overwhelmingly non diverse, they had 70% male and just 30% female employees and a workforce that is more than 60% white.
- Know that change takes time and that whilst some people may intellectually agree with diversity as a concept, when it comes to hiring managers recruiting for their team, you need to analyse are they really open? Conversations need to occur with hiring managers to challenge their selection processes.
- Train people in unconscious bias and review your processes to ensure they are truly inclusive.
- Share your diversity and inclusion policy with your external and internal recruiters. Hold them accountable to help you achieve your goals.
- Don’t try to be all things to all people. Focus on one area at a time and get traction. Enlist internal champions and be prepared to call out discriminatory behaviour.
Diversity is about culture. It’s about making your work environment a place where people love to go to work and at the end of the day it increases your talent pool.
If Selection Partners can help you in any way in the diversity space, be that to recruit, assess, review, implement or train feel free to contact us on 03-9832-8100 or contact June Parker on email@example.com. As well as being a Director of Selection Partners, June is also the President of EEON (Equal Employment Opportunity Network) if you would like learn more about this organisation view www.eeon.org.au. All new members are welcome.