Diversity: The Tool You Need To Skyrocket Business

There’s no denying it: diversity is good for business. Research from the Harvard Business Review found that the most diverse enterprises are also the most innovative. In conclusion, the researchers noted: “the secret of making diversity work appears to be to apply the concept at multiple levels.”

Face up to the problem

It is widely known that an interviewer will redefine merit (i.e. what they’re looking for) to justify the candidate they like the most. Managers hire the people that remind them most of themselves. This is because, as humans, we’re wired to like those most like us. It’s evolutionary.

The problem is, in a multicultural and diverse society, we no longer need these instincts. And if white men from private schools keep hiring white men from private schools, there are no seats left at the table for anyone else.

Candidate from ethnic minority backgrounds see the impact of this first-hand. Companies are twice as likely to interview an applicant who ‘whitened’ their resume as a candidate who reveals their race.

By acknowledging and discussing subconscious bias, you make it conscious, where it’s easier to confront – and eradicate.

Quantify a successful candidate

It’s easy to go off a gut instinct, or let an interview flow organically. But doing so can disadvantage some candidates.

At Slack, one of Silicon Valley’s diversity success stories, the team first lists the skills the role requires. They then come up with behavioural questions designed to assess those skills. Everyone is asked these same questions, which creates an equal playing field.

Standardized interviews lead to more diverse hires. But Harvard Business Review notes that if getting on with someone matters, you should quantify its importance. “By giving likability a score, you’re making it more controllable.”

But interviews shouldn’t be the only way you assess a candidate. Setting tasks to complete at home, or in the office, gives candidates a chance to show their skills – the ones you’re hiring them for. This especially helps applicants from diverse backgrounds, who may worry about representing their minority group in the answers they give.

Rebuild your recruiting process

Diversity needs to happen at all levels, so go for a multi-faceted approach. Focus on hiring more diverse, senior candidates, whilst creating a pipeline for diverse future leaders.

However, to hire the right people, they need to apply. And your job adverts could be putting people off.

Research has shown that adverts with “masculine” wording (superior, determined, competitive) deter women from applying for roles. “Feminine” wording (sympathetic, committed, collaborate) has no impact on a man’s perception of  ‘belonging’ at a company.

By tweaking the language of a job advert, you can encourage a wider range of applicants.

Clearly, diversity will benefit your business. But it’s more than that. McKinsey & Co found that not being diverse could be harming your bottom line. Companies in the fourth quartile on gender & ethnic diversity are more likely to underperform their peers on profitability by a staggering 29%. So get to it – you’ve got a lot to lose if you don’t embrace diversity now.

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