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The case for diversity and inclusion has gained momentum in recent years, supported by discrete initiatives such as gender pay gap reporting and ethnicity pay gap reporting, which have the combined objectives of promoting fairness in the workplace.

As candidates increasingly say that a lack of diversity impacts their choice of employer, we outline how to embrace a diverse workforce when it comes to recruitment and engagement.

The business case for diversity and inclusion

Inclusion is a business case in itself for better diversity in the workplace – having a range of voices, experiences and backgrounds will enable an organisation to create a supportive culture and understand the customers it serves. Nearly half of employers surveyed for LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends 2018 said their focus on diversity was driven by their desire to better represent their customers. Drawing talent from the immediate areas that organisations serve delivers deep expertise, with employees having first-hand experience of customer needs to translate into customer satisfaction.

Diverse teams are also innately innovative. Cognitively diverse teams are said to solve problems faster as there is a diversity of knowledge and perspective that these teams can draw upon more readily. The business case for supporting a diverse team is increasingly taken for granted, yet there are many ways of engaging those traditionally less represented in the workforce.

Under-utilised talent pools

Two thirds of organisations anticipate recruitment and retention difficulties in the next 12 months according to our UK Reward Management Survey spring 2019. As employers increasingly share the challenges they face when it comes to recruitment and retention, accessing new or under-represented demographics is an increasingly effective strategy to tap into new pools of employees.

BAME and working mothers in particular remain hugely under-represented in the workplace. 200,000 single parents in the UK alone are unemployed. The apprenticeship levy has sought to engage the next largest unemployed group, being those aged between 18 and 29, creating more opportunities to enter the workforce and learn on the job. Identifying hiring practices that can access a range of talent pools is critical.

Scrutiny around open and inclusive hiring practices can be supported by HR analytics. Data driven analysis can give employers the opportunity to identify trends around their recruitment and retention practices. With some employers looking to set diversity targets, HR analytics can underpin this. Organisations hope to use this data analysis intelligently and more regularly to monitor their approach to hiring. This can alert businesses to any unconscious bias that might be operating when it comes to recruitment decisions.

Multi-phased careers

It is important to recognise that the workplace is rapidly evolving. We are all living longer and have to work for longer – employers should be offering numerous opportunities for learning and development to embrace multi-phased careers. An open and inclusive hiring strategy that plans to utilise the wealth of knowledge and experience that older workers have built up over their career can help businesses to reduce the current workforce skills gap.

Recognising that there is a more fluid workforce and treating employees as individuals is key to unlocking each person’s potential by tailoring their recognition accordingly. Reward that is designed to tackle, and actively embrace, an ageing workforce and attract younger people to certain sectors, particularly the third sector and residential care, has become a prominent issue for employers who need a secure pipeline of talent to future-proof their business.

The wider push for equality

In our UK Reward Management Survey spring 2019, we investigated equality and diversity practices that respondents already operate. We welcomed the fact that nearly half of respondents are actively considering how they can tackle wider equality issues within their organisations beyond the range of initiatives designed to support a fairer workplace: CEO pay ratios, ethnicity pay gaps and the progress of gender pay gap reporting.

At the heart of these initiatives is the objective of creating equal and fair pay structures across the workplace. 86 per cent of employers already offer broader equality and diversity initiatives, including networking groups (bringing together under-represented groups to mutually support their progression and share experiences); dedicated working groups (open to all employees to champion workplace diversity); and coaching programmes (designed to focus on individual training and support).

Entry interviews are also becoming more popular with employers who want to be proactive. Employers can use this as an opportunity to identify what employees value about the organisation upon joining and understand how to improve employee experience from the outset. This extends to asking new joiners whether they found the employee value proposition inclusive enough, assessing whether the right talent is being recognised and considering brilliant candidates for their potential, as well as their existing qualifications. Diversity and inclusion is increasingly becoming an area of innovation for employers who see this as an opportunity to differentiate their approach.

How can I retain key staff?

By targeting diverse talent and monitoring equality practices within your organisation, you can drive engagement levels throughout your business. The key is to maintain momentum behind these initiatives and harness the benefits of being a diverse and inclusive working environment.

If you would like to review how inclusive your HR practices are or if you would like further support in accessing more diverse talent pools, get in touch.

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