There are many benefits to a diverse workforce, and it is becoming clear that inclusion and promotion of staff from across all spectrums, all genders, generations, ethnicities, sexualities and disabilities will almost certainly see revenues go up. Some of the advantages of a diverse workforce, as identified by The 2018 ‘Delivering through diversity’ report by McKinsey and Company include:

  • companies in the top 25% for ethnic diversity were 33% more likely to achieve a profit above the industry average
  • more ethnically diverse boards were 43% more likely to outperform on profits 
  • those in the top 25% for gender diversity were 21% more likely to achieve a profit above the industry average

As an employer, there are many ways to increase diversity within your workplace from projects you can take on in your everyday work all the way to how people are hired into the company. 

Here’s ten ways to increase diversity at work: 

  1. Rewording job adverts
  2. Advertising in minority publications
  3. Blind applications
  4. Showcasing diversity on the company website or career pages
  5. Health checking culture at a senior level
  6. Ensuring interview panels are diverse
  7. Ensuring online interviews are fair
  8. Job coaches
  9. Raise awareness internally of a diverse culture
  10. Creation of employee forums

Rewording job adverts and job descriptions 

This can remove unconscious bias as studies show that men are likely to apply for roles where they have less than 50% of the required skills, whereas women tend to only apply for roles where they have over 80% of the required skills.

Advertising in minority publications

There are a number of specialist publications in the UK and websites which are aimed at minority groups. This can be a good way to reach out to a wider previously unexplored potential pool of talent with employment opportunities. 

Blind applications and a bigger graduate recruitment pool

The introduction of ‘blind’ applications (e.g. no name, gender, age, education institution,  disability etc) is an area that some corporate institutions are looking at. This reduces the risk of bias and creates an opportunity for objective decision making. 

Showcasing a diverse workforce on the company website and careers pages with case studies 

Case studies of the senior management team and/or recent graduates from diverse backgrounds can be useful. Universities UK research on closing the gap highlights that BAME students are more likely to drop out of university as they don’t feel they belong and it can be similar in the work environment. Creating a sense of belonging and ‘people like me’ as an inclusivity culture can be helpful and case studies go some way to achieve this. Showing different ages and genders can help. 

Health checking the culture of the organisation at a senior level 

Is there an overly macho or long hours culture that might disadvantage women or those with any disabilities for example? Are entertainment and staff events diverse and inclusive or do they all follow a certain theme? What is the company strategy and objectives and is this clearly outlined?

Ensuring interview panels are diverse and minority groups are represented. 

Interviewers need training and should ask the same questions of every candidate so their comfort level with some prospective employees, based on similarities in their backgrounds, doesn’t bias the process. There are training schemes and programmes available and many companies specialise in training management to more effectively run interviews.

Ensuring online assessments and access to interviews are fair and inclusive. 

Working with support groups and charities such as the National Autistic Society and British Dyslexia Association to ensure hiring managers understand how to adapt interview and selection processes to ensure inclusion.

People with disabilities represent a vast market that is often overlooked and largely untapped. The assumption is that technology is different from the stairs. If a candidate attended an interview in a wheelchair and was required to walk upstairs, that would be unacceptable. In the same token, someone with a visual impairment or dyslexia shouldn’t struggle with a website or online selection testing that for them is inaccessible.

Job coaches

Issues like sensitivity to noise or light, or difficulty coping with social interactions can be relatively simple to address. For example, providing a quiet office instead of an open-plan workspace to help avoid sensory overload for white-collar roles – but without the right knowledge and understanding, may be difficult procedures for HR to formalise internally as part of the recruitment process. In-house ‘job coaches’, or someone hired on an adhoc basis, could help ensure workers with autism and those with other disabilities are comfortable with their workplace and are able to concentrate on their work. This could help ensure employees with different disabilities are supported not just during the recruitment stage but throughout their careers – and limit instances where talented individuals fall out of employment due to anxiety or stress.

Raising awareness internally of the benefits of a diverse workforce through structured seminars and workshops.

The goal of diversity training through seminars or workshops is to make employees and managers better understand that even if there are differences amongst the team members that they are working with, a little adjustment in one’s attitude can make for an extraordinary team. The key to any training is to make employees not only tolerant of the differences but to value those differences as a part of successful teams.

Creation of employee forums, mentoring programmes and culture

Celebrating festivals of all the different cultures is one way of creating awareness and acceptance. Some companies even create short courses or slide decks for employees who are travelling to other countries. This type of training can help employees to understand the culture of the country they are visiting.

Within the office environment mentoring programmes can be established to help employees understand other cultures and challenges for minority groups. Employee forums and cultural societies in larger organisations can help promote different cultures and create a sense of acceptance and belonging.