Use Radical Objectivity to Create and Retain an Inclusive Workforce – TechCrunch
Today, the era of corporate social justice is looming. With the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DCI) business case now more vital than ever, we are starting to see organizations genuinely embracing social activism.
And while social justice was, and rightly so, the initial impetus, companies are finally realizing the business case for diversity initiatives. Recent research from McKinsey shows that organizations with the most ethnically diverse teams are 36% more likely to financially outperform those with the least. Indeed, diversity increases income, stimulates innovation, stimulates creativity and leads to better decision-making.
But the truth is, the more diversity you have, the harder it can be.
The problem is, business leaders and diversity advocates haven’t envisioned an approach to diversity that goes beyond ‘add diversity and stir’. Diversity is not a numbers game where the solution is to simply increase the number of traditionally under-represented groups in your workforce.
Now, as the world adjusts in the wake of the pandemic, it’s time to stop pretending that outdated diversity programs are working. So let’s take a look at some of the steps leaders can take to eliminate bias and subjectivity from the start, and instead take a ‘radical objectivity’ approach – combining the data and the humanities to ensure that talent and merit win every time.
Inclusion is more than touching the recruiting lens of diversity
Diversity in the workplace begins with an inclusive culture. Unfortunately, many companies are wrong. That’s because diversity is quantitative – it’s the extent of heterogeneity within your workforce. On the other hand, inclusion describes the experiences of different people in the labor market and the degree to which they are invited to participate.
Achieving inclusion, therefore, is not just about reaching for the diversity recruiting lens. Done well, an inclusive culture should help foster a sense of belonging and shared values. By arming themselves with data and information instead of diversity quotas, forward-thinking organizations can create an environment in which people from all walks of life can thrive.
So how do they get there?
It starts with the language
Diversity initiatives often fail because they arrive too late in the employee journey to have a lasting impact. Change needs to be built into the talent acquisition process, which means changing the way you engage with your potential employees, starting with language.
The words you choose to bring your business to life will make the difference: Words are influential ambassadors of your workplace culture. Technology and data analysis can help you here, providing solid insight into the messages you send.
For example, do you use gender-coded or inclusive language to attract people who care about inclusion? Do you take the time to regularly update your communications to ensure that they include different cultural contexts, not just gender and ethnicity, but also organization and generation?
And it’s not just the language you use in your marketing that matters. Have you taken into account the words used by your hiring managers and recruiters? At Inbeta, we use technology that empowers organizations to go beyond the basics of inclusion.
For example, we bury specific questions in our recruiting interviews, the answers of which can be analyzed linguistically to understand the true values and behaviors of candidates, recruiters and hiring managers. This means you no longer have to rely on simplistic “bias checker” software, which tends to be based on outdated research with few checks on data integrity.
Remember, the best candidates have options. So what would you say that makes them want to work for you?
It’s also essential to keep in mind that when it comes to language, it works both ways. When we decide to hire someone, we need to move beyond conceptions of how the ideal candidate should speak. This too leads to homogeneity. Technology and training in tandem can help with this.
At Inbeta, we recently partnered with a leading retailer to recruit a Director to the Board of Directors and met in our research a leading candidate from the working class. However, the initial assumption of their tone and the way they spoke was that they had arrived at their accomplished position through ‘grit’ and ‘graft’ and that they lacked the strategic ability. required for the new role.
Our linguistic intelligence coupled with human expertise surfaced very early on that this was not the case and allowed us to counter the biases in play. We were able to defend the individual and design a coaching intervention. tailor-made that raised the profile within the process, highlighting the objective potential and ensuring it got a fair chance. The individual is now in the final phase, despite the disadvantage that his socio-economic background would have caused him otherwise.
Look where others wouldn’t (or couldn’t)
Traditional approaches are too static to discover the full potential that exists.
A standard executive search process typically involves extensive manual document searches examining historical databases that are not up to date until the day each CV is written. Failing that, you’re at the mercy of the Headhunter’s Black Book of Knowledge – or perhaps a combination of the two. Either way, the process is far from efficient, let alone fair.
We use a suite of technologies that allow us to identify “hidden” talent without resorting to either of these approaches. We’re currently working with a major fashion brand to hire a client and digital director, for example, and using our tools has allowed us to quickly deliver a long list of 74 high priority candidates in real time. within 48 hours.
This is a potential talent pool that would take weeks to develop more traditional research processes – and that’s before validation. Not only are we able to map candidates quickly and efficiently, by leveraging technology, we can also independently perform due diligence to quantify these leads: do they exhibit typical job search behaviors? What are their cultural drivers? Do they have the desired leadership qualities?
It’s not just about speed and efficiency – although, of course, that’s a bonus – it’s, crucially, about bringing out candidates who would typically be overlooked in the search process.
Beyond cultural fit
To tackle unconscious bias, it’s also worth considering what a truly inclusive approach to talent acquisition looks like. Companies have long hired for “cultural fit”, but there is a huge amount of bias in these mindsets.
By aiming to hire people whose attributes match the company’s goals and values, your resulting workplace is one in which everyone looks, thinks and acts alike. Instead, organizations need to move away from a practice that aims to mold people to match their standards.
There is a recent story that always comes to my mind. As the pandemic approached, I was working with a large multinational retail group to find a group digital manager as part of a high-profile board restructuring.
The person we met had no fashion experience and limited retail experience. Plus, their mindset couldn’t have been further from that of the existing C-sequel, meaning they would have been completely ignored by the majority of headhunters. But, on the other hand, this person had exceptional digital expertise, a career spanning innovation in several FTSE100 companies. And on top of all that, they had functioned as a digital nomad in remote central Africa.
Their technical mastery, coupled with their incredibly diverse mindset, meant that they were the perfect person to revolutionize a very traditional organization. But they just wouldn’t have been identified if we had looked for someone who matched what is called a “cultural conversion”. By moving beyond the lack of cultural fit, companies are much more likely to build teams with the diversity of mindsets, experiences, ethnicities, and backgrounds they claim to seek.
Ultimately, taking a holistic view of diversity means looking beyond the numbers; a tick program is not enough.
Cultural change is a challenge, perhaps even more so when the goal is to create an inclusive culture. But without a concerted effort to change organizational culture and foster inclusion, diversity initiatives are likely to fail.
The easiest way to solve this problem is to reexamine your hiring process with a radically objective approach. Businesses today must take advantage of technology and data to mitigate implicit biases wherever they can, and combine that with a human touch and cultural intelligence. The path to diversity success is to listen, adapt and develop continuously.