Diversity is no longer a “good to do” thing for corporate around the world. It’s become a “must do” imperative. Studies around the world from academic research to research by consulting firms like McKinsey and Deloitte point to the fact organizations that have a diverse workforce are more creative, perform their peers in most financial parameters. The major reason is that the customers are themselves diverse and companies need a diverse workforce to understand and empathise with the needs of today’s customers.
Yet, building a diverse workforce remains a challenge for most organizations. We here take a look at some of the major reasons why that happens, and what organizations can do to overcome these challenges.
Challenge 1: Hiring from campus like yesterday in today’s world
Most companies do not cast a wide enough net for hiring diverse talent. They prefer to go to the same universities and institutions where they have always hired from, which are themselves lacking in diversity. Which translates to lack of diversity in the talent getting hired.
What should talent acquisition leaders do?
If hiring diverse talent is a strategic priority, companies need to go beyond their traditional campuses to other universities like liberal arts and design campuses. Talent which is a risk taker would also be open to joining a company that dares to think different
Challenge 2: Lateral hiring is limited to traditional boundaries of industry and size
In the case of lateral hiring too, companies tend to play it safe – tending to hire people from the same industry and size as theirs. In such a case, the lack of diversity is actually reinforced.
Companies should be open to hiring people from unrelated industries to bring in fresh perspectives. In today’s world where industries are getting disrupted, the traditional mode of thinking is a recipe for obsolescence.
Challenge 3: Differently abled talent is seen as a burden
Many people look at hiring differently abled people as creating additional costs on the company – which would need to make special arrangements for such talent.
However, such companies can actually look at the unique skills that such a talent pool brings. A software product firm realized that hiring people with Asperger’s syndrome in what was considered a “monotonous role” like software quality analysis was a great use of their need for doing a role with a repetitive nature of task, which they did better than the “normal” talent. Their different skills were actually a strength.
Challenge 4: Diversity talent needs flexibility from traditional processes and structures
When an organization is built on the yesterday’s assumptions, hiring diverse talent means having to relook at all the older assumptions – diverse talent may have different needs that traditional processes actively discourage, like flexi-work, tele-commuting, etc. Organizations have to make changes to help diverse talent work at their own pace and this cultural change needs to be done with sensitivity.
Challenge 5: Building a culture of inclusiveness
As a quote by Verna Myers beautifully states – “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance” – diversity would not be successful unless the rest of the organization makes the diverse talent feel welcome – and that means a lot of education and surfacing of deeper prejudices in the part of individuals and teams. Unconscious bias right from the selection process to performance management and reward and recognition processes need to be verbalized and addressed.
As with systemic organizational change efforts building a diverse workplace is long process – however for organizations to survive in the future and to be relevant it is imperative to make this change – because the option of not making the change is irrelevance and being obsolete.