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Diversity in the Workplace: a guide to making your team more successful through diversity

Creating and maintaining a “dream team” can be challenging and requires attention to many different variables. Undutchables teamed up with Wendy Broersen from Superwoman Academy to discuss one of these important variables – diversity. Although the webinar focuses specifically on the female population many of the points can be applied generally to successfully achieve greater diversity in your company.

Aubrey de Wilde on December 29, 2020 Average reading time: 3 min
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Diversity in the Workplace: a guide to making your team more successful through diversity

We have come quite a long way in the last 60 years regarding diversity in the workplace. But why is this important? Imagine a scenario where a problem needs to be solved. When your team is made up of people with similar personalities and backgrounds the likelihood is greater that they will all come up with a similar solution.

As the popular quote goes, however: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you have always gotten.” When your team is made up of different types of people with different backgrounds then they each bring a unique perspective to the table, which allows the team to hash out the best solution by looking at it from different angles. A diversified team is a true asset and can make your company more balanced, efficient, and effective!

A diversified team is a true asset and can make your company more balanced, efficient, and effective!

One way to diversify your team is to focus on adding more women to your organisation. Women generally tackle tasks in a different way than their male counterparts. This often leads to women being judged on how they do things rather than the effectiveness of their results. Statistically the math doesn’t work out well for female job seekers, as you can see in the chart below. Which means that having a large number of female applicants is not enough to ensure that you attract, hire on, and retain great talent from this group. Wendy has provided some important points to take into account both during the hiring process and afterwards to meet this goal.

Bring on the talent!

In order to attract the best female candidates to your company it is important to take a close look at your recruitment process.

Job listing

Writing a solid job advertisement that appeals to the type of candidate you are looking for is essential. Inclusive language is something to carefully consider. For instance, some strong words such as “aggressive target achiever” might keep women from applying, even though they could be a great fit for the actual tasks they would be doing. Including soft skills, such as “creative” or “great communicator,” in the desired job qualifications can also help increase the number of women who respond.

Women tend to be discouraged from applying if they cannot check off all the bullet points, while men will apply even if they only hit some of the bullet points.

Research has shown that bullet points in a job ad also have a large effect on the number of women who apply. If more than 5 bullet points are used, then the response by female candidates goes down by almost 50%. This is because women tend to be discouraged from applying if they cannot check off all the bullet points, while men will apply even if they only hit some of the bullet points. A good way to avoid this issue is to replace bullet points with normal text and to use a maximum of 3 bullet points.

Reviewing committee and process

Making sure that your application reviewing process, as well as the people assigned to this, are influenced by as little bias as possible is important. In general people like to hire others who are similar to themselves, however in a hiring procedure it is better to look for added value to the company culture rather than a simple “cultural fit.” A good way to ensure that this is happening is to create a diverse reviewing committee. Make sure that there are female colleagues involved as well as employees with diverse roles within the team; diverse backgrounds and ways of thinking make it even better.

Make sure that there are female colleagues involved as well as employees with diverse roles within the team; diverse backgrounds and ways of thinking make it even better.

During the first look at an application the goal should be to focus on facts. It helps to exclude anything that can create bias, such as pictures, video, or even names. The more anonymous the better, so that you get the chance to look at the basic skills and experience that a candidate brings to the table. Once you get to the interviewing stage you will get to know the candidate better, and it is important to ensure that you are asking unbiased questions that are non-gender specific. It can be very helpful to include a script for your reviewing team so that they can get the important information in an open and inclusive way.

Prep applicants

Adding diversity to your team requires effort on both sides of the table, so helping the candidate be successful can help ensure that you find the right talent for your team. Helping the candidate know what to expect beforehand makes it more possible for them to succeed. Informing them of acceptable attire (specific to the company style), communication style of the interviewers, important topics to discuss, and company culture, before they enter an interview gives candidates the chance to show what they have to offer in a way that comes across clearly to the interviewing team.

If you know that the interviewing board likes clear and concise answers this can be helpful for a female applicant to know in her preparations for the meeting.

For instance, many women can be a bit wordy in their explanations and if you know that the interviewing board likes clear and concise answers this can be helpful for a female applicant to know in her preparations for the meeting. Setting a candidate at ease by giving them a tour of the company and introducing them to other women who work there can also promote a more successful interview process.

Fortifying talent!

Finding great new team members is only the beginning, retaining that talent is also very important. Besides the normal ways to keep a work environment and job tasks interesting for your employees, here are a couple of tips to take it to the next level.     

Promotion and growth programs

Statistically 72 women are promoted compared to every 100 men, and this statistic has gotten worse in recent months (60 women to every 100 men). It is essential to keep women in mind for promotion and growth opportunities within the company. A great way to do this is to analyse your current promotional programs and determine if they are inclusive. Having other female role models within management can be an important factor in getting more women involved.

In order to achieve the effectiveness of a diverse management team make sure that you are specifically recruiting women for the [growth] program.

Women often operate with a different management style and perspective than men. Including multiple perspectives in decision making processes helps the whole team to come up with more informed and well-thought out solutions. In order to achieve the effectiveness of a diverse management team make sure that you are specifically recruiting women for the program as well and that the training and requirements allow for diverse perspectives and approaches.

Networking

Networking is important in any business. Women are generally quite adept in social situations and are good at quickly connecting with others which makes them great networkers, however, they are not as good at working their network. This is because women don’t tend to be willing to ask much of their contacts. Wendy’s advice is to “dare to ask.” A good tip is that you can ask anyone in your network for something that will take 5 minutes or less, even if you do not know them well yet, and if you have a personal relationship then 15 minutes is also not much to ask. This tip can help your female employees make better use of the network that they have created.

Plan a lunch event instead of an evening event so that your employees who are parents are able to attend with less stress.

It is important to keep the diversity of your team in mind when creating networking events within the company. This can be anything from having drinks with the team on Friday evening to larger cross-functional or client events. Inviting a mixed group of people (varying departments, male/female, different backgrounds) can make people feel more at ease, since they are not the odd one out, and can increase relationships and effectiveness across the company. Another thing to keep in mind is accessibility. Try changing it up. For example, plan a lunch event instead of an evening event so that your employees who are parents are able to attend with less stress.

What now?

The best way to apply these principles to create long term inclusion and diversity in your team is to create an action plan. Many companies have seen great success in this area by setting KPIs and making a specific plan for how to accomplish them. Make sure to consider that inclusion should continue in every phase, from writing a vacancy text to hiring to promotion. The positive influence of diversity in an inclusive team will provide added value to your team culture as well as increase the effectiveness of your company. So be creative and keep an open mind in order to take action in your own search for a balanced workforce!

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Aubrey de Wilde

Aubrey de Wilde

Recruitment Consultant at Undutchables

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