’Diversity is better for business’ is a phrase that has entered the common parlance of the business world. How can data and analytics decision-makers recruit and retain a diverse range of employees to help insight businesses to flourish?
There are studies that show that diversity is good for a company’s bottom line. According to the Boston Consulting Group, companies with a diverse management team are 19% more profitable due to innovation. This innovation comes from creativity and good ideas stemming from a range of people putting forward their different ways of thinking.
Furthermore, while diverse teams feel uncomfortable due to the friction and conflict that comes with different types of people working together, they produce the best results, according to a research vice president at Gartner. If this is the view of one of the biggest and most influential insights businesses in the world, we best take heed.
It is especially important that the people involved in drawing insight from data and analytics, as well as those creating algorithms to be used in artificial intelligence and automation, reflect society at large. Without the input of multiple demographics across the lines of race, gender, sexuality, able-bodiedness and other intersections, insights could be missed and algorithms can reinforce inequality and perpetuate injustice.
Change up your recruitment methods. If you always hire in the same way, you’ll always employ the same type of people. By changing the way you recruit, you can access, bring in and benefit from people who would have otherwise flown under your radar.
Consider creating an apprenticeship programme. That way you can bring in someone who is fresh from school or has experience in another industry. Also think about offering opportunities to people who want to return to the world of work after a break, such as parents who have taken parental leave.
Be aware of the wording used in your job adverts. It has been suggested that some words are interpreted as more masculine and could put off potential female candidates. Consider using this Gender Decoder for Job Ads, as it could help you neutralise your ad.
Some companies now ask candidates not to include their names but instead just their initials on the CVs or resumes, to avoid any inadvertent prejudice against a potential employee on the grounds of their race, gender or nationality that could be deduced from their name.
Tell people that they would be welcome. Make it clear in your advert that your workplace has a place for everybody.
State what your diversity goals are. Publish progress reports to let people know how near or far you are from reaching the goals and what action is being taken to do so. Mobile-first bank Monzo does this every March and has received a lot of praise for its transparency.
Give your interviewers training on unconscious bias. If this doesn’t happen, hiring managers could end up only offering roles to people like themselves. This would lead to a homogenous working environment which isn’t great for creativity.
Do your best to advertise your open roles widely, so that it is not just those in the know who can apply, and consider using a recruitment consultant to help put your company on the radar of underrepresented groups.
Make sure your spaces are physically accessible to people who have different physical abilities, so that people can actually get a foot in the door.
It is one thing to attract and employ a diverse group of employees, but once they are through the door, you have to retain them. Do this by showing that there is a commitment to inclusion.
Consider laying out an equality and diversity policy. Put policies in place that would allow all employees to flourish such as flexible and part time working. Parental leave for both women and men, that goes beyond the statutory minimum would be a great benefit for employees looking to grow their families.
Perhaps offer a sabbatical after a number of years of service. Think of how your social and team building activities can accommodate both earlybirds and night owls. And sometimes forgo drinks down the pub after work for a team breakfast or potluck lunch to accommodate teetotal employees.
Tell people the best way to contact HR or raise an issue if they have any concerns, and make sure the entire company is made aware of what type of language and behaviour is appropriate, and what isn’t.
It is important to acknowledge that we all have biases, both conscious and unconscious. It is said that humans make 35,000 decisions daily, and our biases mean that we can make decisions more quickly. Once we recognise the presence of bias, we must do our best to ensure that our biases do not negatively effect the data we work on and the people with whom we work.
Above all, it is imperative to be open and to listen. There is no point in attracting and retaining different people, if your ears are closed to their different voices. Great minds don’t think alike and to hear those great ideas, listen and then take action on what you’ve heard. Then we can make data work for everyone.