To say it’s high time for companies to invest in diversity initiatives is an understatement. There never was a bad moment not to do so, mainly because there never were reasons not to be inclusive, to begin with. But it’s better late than never, so it’s nice to finally see companies doing some efforts to be more inclusive when hiring talent.
It’s funny because instituting diversity-led hiring practices isn’t just the right thing to do from a moral perspective (which should be reason enough to do so) but also a very beneficial endeavor for the businesses pushing for it. Consider this – a Deloitte study found out that companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion generate 30% more revenue per employee, are twice as likely to meet their financial goals, and 6 times more likely to innovate and better respond to change.
In light of those numbers and the societal benefits that come with them, diversity initiatives should be a top priority for any business, regardless of its industry. But that’s not the case for many companies who are still unknowingly or willingly failing to overcome their own ingrained biases. For all of them, I’ve prepared a list of 7 steps they can take to build a more diverse workforce.
All of these steps come from the experience we’ve gathered at BairesDev. After more than a decade of using the mentality that stemmed from these steps, we’re an award-winning company in diversity initiatives, so I can confidently say that these really work.
The 7 steps for a more diverse and inclusive company
It takes more than just encouraging candidates from all backgrounds to apply to your job openings. You can only achieve true diversity if you tackle a comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategy based on the following steps.
1. Use the widest notion of “diverse”
When people think of diversity, they often think of gender, race, and sexuality gaps. And that’s perfect, as all of those are aspects that a diversity initiative has to contemplate. However, you shouldn’t limit your definition of “diversity” to them. There are always other differences you should take into account, from disabilities to new ways of thinking. Thus, you should use a broad definition of diversity to accommodate as many walks of life as possible.
2. Create inclusive policies for your workplace
It doesn’t matter who you are and what you do, there’ll always be unconscious biases in your practices. That’s why you need to take a deep look at your current processes to evaluate how you can make them more inclusive. The result of that analysis will likely have you amending and expanding your policies. Be as thorough as possible and consider everything from hiring to promotions. Some opportunities for improvement include on-site daycare, adapted offices, flexible work hours, and the possibility to take religious holidays off.
3. Institute ongoing diversity programs
A truly diverse company doesn’t just make one big attitude adjustment at some point and call it quits. Diversity and inclusion are constantly evolving terms, so your efforts should be as well. That means that you should have training programs, conversations, and partnerships that support the diversity goal on an ongoing basis.
4. Aim for conscious leadership
One of the best things you can do to increase diversity in your company is to lead by example. That means that you should go beyond creating policies and adapting your offices – you need to make inclusion a guiding value for every one of your actions. Doing so can inspire managers and employees to follow you and do the same. What’s more – you can institute ongoing coaching sessions for senior leaders and middle managers to align with that mission as well, which will boost the visibility of this initiative.
5. Rethink your hiring practices
While step 2 (reviewing your policies) will have you assessing your current hiring practices, I want to address it separately because it can make a huge difference. That’s why you should rethink it and profoundly modify it. To ensure diversity, you have to take several things into account, including the wording in your job postings, the way you select candidates, and the way you interview applicants (for instance, avoiding one-on-one interviews, as they surely are subjected to the biases of the interviewer, which will run unchecked).
6. Don’t think of diversity as a quota
There’s an unfortunate hiring practice that’s sadly common among many companies by which they try to hire diverse candidates to meet a quota. That might have them thinking that it’s enough for businesses to hire a certain percentage of women/disabled/elders and that’s that. But diversity doesn’t work that way. An inclusive company doesn’t think of quotas, as doing so can lead them to think that a business is diverse when it truly isn’t.
7. Use data in your favor
Living in the golden age of data should play to your advantage when it comes to diversity. That means that you should gather as much information as possible about your hiring practices, including how many candidates apply to your jobs, their personal traits, their backgrounds, and how many of them make it to your company. Using that data and analyzing contextual information can be key to detect gaps or biases, especially if you compare your in-house data with the diversity data of your country or region.
Beyond the 7 steps
While these 7 steps will get you closer to being a more diverse company, the truth is that there’s always something else you can do. For instance, BairesDev partners with non-profit organizations to support diversity initiatives related to the tech world. We also use a referral program that rewards employees for the successful hiring of people from underrepresented communities in tech.
In reality, being diverse implies being innovative, as there always are novel ways to increase the diversity of your workforce. So, take these 7 steps as the starting point for your own diversity journey and commit to it, as you’ll be doing yourself, your company, and your community a huge service.