The business case for diversity: from recruitment to retention

Diversity, equity, inclusion DEI

Yves Schneuwly offers practical tips to weave DEI values into every aspect of your employee experience

Creating a diverse and inclusive environment at work has a positive impact for many reasons. It contributes to an ethical and equal company culture, but it also brings forth a multitude of additional advantages. A study by McKinsey found that companies whose executive teams are diverse have a 12% higher chance of financial success.  

Embed DEI values into your training for staff at all levels, including leadership, to reinforce the message that this is who your company is 

Further studies have found that an inclusive workplace also makes your company more attractive, therefore working to reduce staff turnover. Decreasing the turnover lowers the costs of recruiting and onboarding new employees.  

Cultivating a work environment where every team member feels valued and supported not only boosts employee satisfaction but also promotes longevity within the organisation, resulting in a mutually beneficial outcome for both the company and its employees. 

What is a diverse and inclusive workplace? 

A diverse and inclusive workplace is one in which employees who fall under the definition of the nine protected characteristics of the 2010 Equality Act are supported and welcomed. These characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. All company decisions should be made without bias or discrimination.  

Regardless of whether your company has dedicated diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) staff, these values will have a positive impact on your company, its functioning and its staff members.  

Here are some tips from staffing platform Coople on how you can incorporate DEI values at every stage of an employee’s relationship with your company – from hiring and onboarding through to continuing professional development.  

Equal access to opportunities  

From the moment you begin hiring for a new worker, there are decisions to be made that can help level the playing field for all candidates.  

For example, the way you phrase your job description can make an impact on who applies. Some companies include a line encouraging prospective candidates to apply even if they do not have every qualification, skillset or experience mentioned in the description, a measure to combat the pattern that has been observed in which men are more likely to apply than women in specific circumstances.  

Businesses who deliver the Disability Confident Interview Scheme promise in any job description to offer an interview to disabled candidates who meet the minimum criteria – if they are reasonably able to do so, given the number of interviews total that will take place.  

It’s always worth having a last look over your job description before it goes live, to make sure it conveys everything you need it to. Coople recently introduced an AI tool that aims to help companies quickly write standardised job descriptions, using deep learning to fill out a template by pulling data from their profile on the platform. 

Make your interview panel diverse

Another strategy to ensure your recruitment process is inclusive is to deliberately create a diverse interview panel. Cast a wide net across your company to select employees with a range of key characteristics. Then, if the employees who will be on the panel have not previously given interviews, consider training or briefing them on how to deliver an unbiased interview. Having a diverse interview panel will help bring different perspectives to the table. 

One part of committing to DEI values is making sure that all employees have access to upskilling, leadership training and other opportunities. Removing any biases that may influence which employees are promoted or encouraged in their professional development (and which are not) means that all qualified staff get a fair shot. 

A recent study found that 71% of senior level staff who have a protégé choose to mentor someone who is the same gender and race as them – anti-bias training in the senior team may help encourage potential mentors to look beyond the similarities.  

Inclusive training that promotes equality  

Throughout every stage of a worker’s journey within your organisation, the training they receive should consistently embody inclusivity both in its structure and its substance. This could mean a few different things, as inclusivity is not a one-size-fits-all solution.  

For example, this could entail reviewing your online resources to make sure they are all accessible to all employees, with subtitles, descriptive audio tracks or high contrast colours. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are an extremely useful resource.  

It could also mean being mindful of the accessibility of your office, as well as any external venues your company’s staff may be visiting to attend training or meet clients. If any of your staff – current or incoming – have limited mobility or use a wheelchair, it’s of great importance whether the buildings you use have steps at the entrance or internal stairs.  

Embed DEI values into your training for staff at all levels, including leadership, to reinforce the message that this is who your company is. It’s also important to make sure commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion that were promised are maintained and held up. As Elizabeth Doty and Maryam Kouchaki noted in their 2015 paper ‘commitment drift’, or a perceived abandonment of ideals, will lead to stakeholders (inside and out of the business) losing trust in an organisation.  

DEI and staff wellbeing  

Lastly, an inclusive workplace is also one that values staff wellbeing, meaning that it is doubly beneficial for corporate social responsibility. A workplace in which all staff feel valued and respected is one that is taking measures to protect all employees’ wellbeing and mental health.  

A company’s organisational culture will be strongly influenced by the presence or lack of DEI values. Create a workplace culture where employees feel empowered. One way you can do this is by making an effort to bring a wider range of people into leadership roles. Diverse management is good for business, with diverse management teams leading to 19% higher revenue according to one study

In an NHS page about work-related stress, discrimination is cited as a major cause of stress. Stress at work can lead to physical and mental health issues, resulting in staff needing to take more time off sick or even leave their jobs entirely.  

Ask yourself: does it promote DEI? 

When planning a learning and development activity or conducting any other workplace activity that involves your team, it is important to consider whether it promotes diversity, equity and inclusion. If there is not a DEI specialist at your company, there are plenty of helpful resources online, as well as independent consultants who can offer support and training for your team.  

Yves Schneuwly is Group Chief Commercial Officer at Coople 

Yves Schneuwly

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