Companies are bringing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in every aspect of business and employee lifecycle. It has become essential for overall success of an organization as such initiatives touch upon every dimension of work and drive innovation, enhance productivity, lead to higher employee engagement, and foster a culture that understands and respects differences.
Companies are appointing Chief Diversity Officers, Director HR & Inclusion, Diversity Recruiters, DEI Managers, and such other roles that specifically work on DEI strategies. Even candidates, especially Gen Z and Millennials, prefer to be associated with organizations that value and respect diversity, provide fair opportunities for growth, and create a more assimilative and inclusive workplace.
Diversity is prevalence of range of differences; Equity is trying to bring people on the same platform despite such differences and Inclusion is when employees feel a sense of belonging through all of these. Normally, though these three are mentioned in unison, each has its own significance, purpose, and outcomes. Hence, separate initiatives and programs are to be planned to reach a minimum benchmark in each of them.
When we speak about diversity, what comes to our mind instantly is gender, age, education, demography, etc. But diversity is also in thoughts and ideas. To achieve diversity in its true sense, organization should recruit people with diverse backgrounds, not limited to the obvious choices, but going beyond the normal acceptable norms.
Regarding equity, the basic premise is to recognize that every individual has differences, barriers, and stumbling blocks. Hence, everyone cannot be assessed with the same scale. It is not about making exceptions but giving due respect for the differences and preparing JDs in such a way that more candidates qualify for the job.
We should also think about creating the necessary infrastructure, systems, and processes, that support people with restrictions, limitations, or disabilities. When all these things happen, a workplace becomes inclusive where employees feel that they are in a right place, where talent is recognized without being judged.
Organizations are realizing the importance of DEI. Incorporating certain things, after reflecting on the following, while framing a recruitment policy will help in driving this initiative in the right direction.
What is the objective?
While the overall benefits of DEI are clearly appreciated by one and all, it is important to know the basic purpose of adopting DEI. Is it for compliance or ethics or business requirement? What aspect of diversity does the company want to address? Is there clarity on equity and equality?
Being aware of the larger objectives while framing a policy helps to understand the dimension and extent to which efforts are required to achieve desired results.
What is the applicability?
Instead of a generic approach, adopting a more specific and definitive approach is preferred. There are some functions, departments, or roles where it is easier to implement DEI programs.
For instance, if the organization wants to create opportunities for disabled community or specific gender or from a particular location, the same can be mentioned in the recruitment policy. When some positions are earmarked, talent search can be narrowed down.
Gradually, they can expand the applicability to more roles depending on the company’s objective.
Who are our prospective employees?
There is so much disparity in the market in terms of talent availability. A basic level of understanding of possible talent pool helps designing initiatives.
Aspiring DEI without knowing the target community that needs to be recruited may not achieve desired result. For instance, retired personnel, visually impaired-deaf-mute, people from remote villages, women wanting to resume careers after a break, etc., can be prospective candidates.
When companies know that they need specific category of candidates, search can be done accordingly – like hotels recruiting mute candidates; companies providing opportunities to women who took break due to maternity, etc.
How to reach out to the right talent?
Every recruiter has a pool of active job seekers, but when we talk about diversity in terms of gender, age, region, culture, education, skills, etc., relying on standard practices will not get you to the ideal candidates.
An unconventional approach in obtaining diverse profiles should include strategies to identify passive job seekers.
For instance, if an organization wants to give opportunities to candidates from villages and lesser accessible towns or attract female candidates for male-dominated roles, a totally different approach is required to tap that talent.
How to make the Job Descriptions and Job Postings more inclusive?
The language used plays prominence in JDs and advertisements. It should provide scope for diverse applicants to apply without being discriminatory. There may be a few positions where bringing diversity may not be possible, and such roles could be out of the scope of DEI.
There should also be a disclaimer on diversity and inclusion, which communicates that the organization does not just talk about DEI initiatives, but also lives it at every stage of the employee life cycle. Many companies do mention in their advertisements about being an equal opportunity employer and their preference for women or candidates with reduced mobility.
What are the selection criteria?
This is the most important step, as this will take care of having right candidates lined up. There should not be any unconscious bias or stereotyping in the selection process.
Some direct discriminations are not selecting women candidates due to marriage or maternity; misinterpreting good English speaking to good communication; not considering a candidate due to a specific gender or disability or not having education from premier institution etc.
There may be many indirect biases too that need to be specified so that they don’t become a roadblock in selecting a possible candidate for the position.
Conclusion: DEI is a crucial goal and HR can drive it only when business leaders believe that it is important for the organization to move in that direction. The best way is to look at what others have done regarding this which has achieved remarkable results.
Hotel industry is proactively recruiting mute candidates; women are opting for combat and non-combat roles in army; LGBT community is occupying prominent positions in every professional sphere etc.
Hence, the policy should also cover mechanisms to track and measure DEI goals as well as incentivize innovative practices and significant achievements.