When attracting and retaining candidates, it’s important to be inclusive. Giving equal opportunity to everyone regardless of their differences starts with understanding any inherent biases that may knowingly or unknowingly exist and assessing current norms within the company to identify opportunities. Lastly, take action by developing goals, building a plan, and procuring buy-in and support.
Most companies have norms due to tradition that hinder the progression of inclusivity. They don't see it because it's woven into the fabric of a company to the point that no one sees it anymore. It takes someone from the outside with fresh eyes to see what they may be missing. It takes asking hard questions. The risk in not doing so is that companies may miss their chance at acquiring or retaining top talent. For most job candidates, a lack of a solid DE&I plan is a deal-breaker.
To create a culture where diversity and inclusion is a top priority, the following must occur:
1. Challenge Your Bias
The company may not have biases, but the hiring or management team might. It’s important to gauge where these biases are coming from and fix them.
2. Use Inclusive Language
Words spoken or written all have an impact on the company and its employees. Make sure all communication is inclusive and reflected in every action taken. When crafting communications, get feedback from different cultures to make sure nothing comes across as insensitive or culturally biased.
3. Don't Simply Hire People You Like
People are misjudged every day. If the hiring or management team only hires people they feel comfortable around, the company could miss out on amazing talent and opportunities. If these situations exist, find out why they migrate to certain people and point it out.
4. Review Company Core Value Statements
Company core value statements aren’t just for show – they are there for a reason. If the company isn’t living up to its core values, it demonstrates they aren’t truthful and don’t really care about their employees (or at least that’s the perception). If the core value statements don’t align, it’s time to revise.
5. Check your Culture
It’s important to have a culture and office environment that is welcoming and inclusive. Although employees may not say anything when feeling uncomfortable, this is the first indication that they feel as if they are not wanted. This also starts the process of looking for alternate employment. Having ice-breaking sessions or events where everyone can feel as if they are a part of a bigger purpose makes a difference.
This isn't an exhaustive list, but it's a good place to start. DE&I initiatives are not static. They will always be changing, and should therefore be regularly considered through open and honest dialogue. If you're having trouble hiring, or worse, retaining new hires, it could be the people you're hiring...or it could be your company culture. In an environment where competition for employees is fierce, it pays to look in a mirror and make sure you have an environment where all can feel welcome.