4 methods to encourage variety and inclusion in enterprise

Emma Harvie, manager, high achiever

There are many benefits to having a more diverse and inclusive work environment, and promoting a job can be straightforward and inexpensive, writes Emma Harvie, customer care manager at Achievers.

Life is pretty vanilla when everyone thinks and acts alike. Conversely, a wide range of points of view and perspectives can lead to smarter decision-making and a higher degree of innovation. Both are desirable for companies aiming for a competitive advantage in difficult economic times.

In the past few years, large companies and organizations across Australia have spoken the language and a growing number are moving on and investing in a plethora of initiatives aimed at making their workplaces more diverse and inclusive.

The international technology consultancy Accenture, for example, is aiming for a gender ratio of 50 to 50 within four years and has implemented programs to support employees with disabilities and the LGBTI community. Telstra, meanwhile, went to great lengths to support affected workers during the 2017 same-sex marriage debate, including advocating giving Indigenous Australians more opportunities and more support for victims of domestic violence.

Most companies in Australia do not have the resources to use engaging diversity and inclusion to nurture pioneer programs like this. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t take some simple, inexpensive steps to diversify their workforce and ensure that everyone on the team feels heard, valued, and included. Four examples:

Extension of the interview panels

General Manager, Head of HR, Head of Operations … in many organizations, the same person or the same small group of people is responsible for interviews with applicants. This can often lead to people hiring a similar type of candidate for every vacant position – often someone who speaks to them personally – instead of objectively analyzing the strengths of the other applicants.

Panel interviews, in which men, women and employees from different backgrounds participate, can provide more diversity of thought when making recruitment decisions. This can help give all qualified candidates an equal chance to shine.

Revision of job advertisements

Job advertisements and job descriptions may unwittingly target a gender or age group, thereby discouraging other skilled people from applying. Having multiple employees from different backgrounds look at them before they are published or published can result in more neutral language that opens your company up to a wider talent pool.

Offer flexible options

The Covid-19 crisis has taught Australian companies an extraordinary, unplanned lesson about how successful flexible and remote working can be. This is a lesson that can serve you well in “more normal” times. Flat-rate guidelines, such as required minimum hours or days in the office, can make it more difficult for various candidates to retain employment, especially those with caring responsibilities and disabilities.

If you consider the potential impact of your current arrangements and make them as flexible as possible, you can attract and retain great talent who, for some reason, can’t work nine to five days.

Recognize great work

Research shows that workers who are actively connected to their employer take less time off and work more productively than those who do not. Employees of all backgrounds and backgrounds are more likely to thrive in a supportive environment where their efforts are recognized and rewarded. In some smaller organizations this is done on an ad hoc basis. If so, it is likely to be less effective than a program that regularly challenges and praises employee efforts that go above and beyond.

Adopting digital tools and infrastructures to formalize and streamline the recognition and reward process can help executives adequately, in a personalized and meaningful way, for each employee’s efforts.

Stronger together

Diversity and inclusion are not just feel-good concepts. Your employees are your greatest asset and measures to make your company more diverse and inclusive can lead to a more innovative and engaged workforce that is better equipped for the challenges of tomorrow.