Building Inclusion

August 8, 2018 | SkillSurvey | HCI
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According to a recent study of over 1,000 companies from McKinsey and Company, gender diverse organizations are 21% more likely to outperform their peers; ethnically diverse organizations are 33% more likely to.

It’s a stunning fact. And one that won’t surprise most HR professionals. We know intuitively that when people can work to their fullest capacity, without the hindrance (or threat) of bias, they can achieve great things.

Over the course of the past year, we’ve witnessed the consequences of bias in the workplace. Just follow a few of the hashtags: #metoo #timesup #boycottstarbucks and #summerjobwhileblack.

Sadly, bias, discrimination, and yes, even harassment, have yet to be eradicated in the workplace. Still, the overarching trends are encouraging. This year, postings for diversity and inclusion jobs increased by 35% from two years ago. Almost half of millennials say that diversity and inclusion are important to them when looking for a job.

That’s great news, but how do we actually go about building inclusive talent systems? Most companies, even those with the best of intentions, struggle reaching their diversity and inclusion goals. The EEOC recently reported that representation of women and minorities in companies of over 100 people has largely remained static since 1985. During the era when work was transformed by the personal computer, an entire generation of women and minorities has still found the door closed to opportunity.

At SkillSurvey, we’ve done a lot of work studying hidden bias—the unconscious and procedural biases and assumptions that often happen during the screening, selecting, and hiring process. Need some examples? Here’s an infographic that illustrates some of the different ways the traditional hiring process can create barriers to diversity. You can read more about how our solutions are designed to help you identify and eliminate these biases in a new white paper we just published.

While better tools can help you identify and eliminate bias in your hiring, building an inclusive workplace will take more time, effort, and commitment. We like to think of this in terms of a pyramid.

At the bottom of the pyramid, of course, is compliance—the foundational legal requirements that any organization must adhere to. In the U.S., EEOC compliance requires organizations to treat all employees of protected classes equally. That’s why understanding what kinds of processes and technology you have in place and how well they are working is so important. Recruiters in particular will want to understand adverse impact and how to avoid it. HR generalists should understand EEOC salary reporting requirements and be able to properly handle complaints. Increasingly, information that used to remain behind closed doors is being shared in public forums—as evidenced by the recent story, Inhuman Resources, published by the Huffington Post.

Organizations will also need to address the next level of the pyramid: building a culture of opportunity by opening the door to more kinds of people. For many organizations, this could mean moving beyond traditional sourcing channels and implementing new diversity initiatives to build a better pipeline of qualified candidates. It could also mean letting go of “tried-and-true” screening tactics such as looking for a particular kind of degree, or sourcing candidates from a limited roster of schools. Studies have shown that these kinds of pre-qualifiers are rarely predictive of future job success.

Diversity is important. But diversity only starts with getting in the door. The ultimate goal, which sits at the top of the pyramid, is to build a culture of inclusion. To build a real culture of inclusion, organizations need to find ways to make sure that everyone has a seat at the table—and a voice that’s being heard. That comes down to the people you hire—starting with the C-suite and moving on from there. To make better hires, you need better insight—and you uncover those insights by looking at unbiased feedback from the people who know a candidate the best: managers, peers, and direct reports. With a scientifically vetted online reference solution like SkillSurvey’s, you’ll understand who can work well with others, who checks their ego at the door, and who puts patients or customers first. You’ll have insight into how well a person can manage others—a critical factor in building an inclusive culture. And you’ll know you’re making great hires based on real data—not on snap judgments or those gut feelings that seem so right and are usually so wrong. That way you don’t miss hiring the introvert whose performance is through the roof, but who was super awkward during an interview. Or the flashy extrovert you never would have guessed was a highly organized, detail-oriented, genius accountant.

Building a culture of inclusion will take commitment, vision, and resources. A fair and unbiased hiring process based on objective data will be fundamental to any successful diversity and inclusion. And while opening the door to opportunity can have a positive impact on your bottom line, knowing that you’re building a culture that values every employee and customer is its own reward.