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Diversity, the key to success?!

Our society is becoming increasingly diverse but that does not always translate to the workplace. By diversity in the workplace we mean the diversity of employees within one organization and we are not only talking about differences in gender and culture but also about age or ideology, for example. Therefore, every organization is obliged to itself and the society to look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are committed to diversity. Creating diversity starts with the recruitment and selection process: which people do you recruit and hire as an organization? Our neutrality can be biased, consciously or unconsciously, at any moment of the recruitment and selection process. At Crossbridge we start from the individual: we look for a qualitative, long-term match between companies and the unique talents, competences and career drivers of our talent pool. We will not settle for less than a 100% match! We call for starting from the qualities and possibilities of an individual and not from their individual characteristics like gender, age or ethnicity.


Perhaps as an employer or recruiter you started reading this article thinking 'Diversity, sounds good, but what's in it for me?’ Hold on, your question will be answered shortly as the purpose of this article is to demonstrate the value of a commitment to diversity. Is diversity in the workplace an unknown topic for you? Be sure to read on, we will give you some tips & tricks to make the recruitment and selection process of your organization diversity-proof.



First, let’s define diversity.

“The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.” (Queensborough community college)

A large number of organizations are already actively engaged in increasing diversity and inclusion of employees, but more is needed than making people feel at home as individuals. Increasing diversity in the workplace requires thorough management of these differences by organizations.


Diversity, the key to competitive advantage

To come back to your question 'What's in for me?'. The answer to this question can be summarized in three parts: an increased quantity of the application pool, a higher quality of your future employees and a more efficient recruitment and selection process.


Many organizations today are looking for the white raven: perfectly trilingual, perfect study track, preferably slightly overqualified for the position. Result? Too many companies are fishing in the same pool of talents, trying to find the perfect candidate for the vacancy. As a company, when you open up to a more diverse audience in the recruitment and application process, your talent pool with potential applicants will be enlarged and enriched: if everyone feels welcome, more employees will feel attracted to your organization and you will get more responses to job openings. In other words, your quantity increases. If you do not exclude potential applicants based on gender, age, sexual orientation, nationality, religion or disability, you can of course attract more candidates. This gives you the opportunity as a company to recruit applicants that other organizations unfairly ignore!

Nevertheless, research shows that attracting a diverse target group also benefits the quality of your workforce! A diverse workforce provides a competitive advantage, leads to better performance and better productivity for the individual, his or her team and even the organization as a whole. A diverse workforce ensures that strengths and weaknesses within the team cancel each other out and creates the opportunity to learn from each other. As you get different perspectives, employees are challenged to think critically, reach consensus and to understand and respect each other. In addition, the competitive advantage is maintained through alternative solutions of problem-solving, which is crucial for organizations today: your technology can be copied by other organizations, a creative and innovative workforce makes the difference.

Finally, attracting a diverse applicant pool will also increase the efficiency of your selection and recruitment process. It requires fewer resources to attract applicants who do not belong to the target audience of each organization. If you only focus on the 'white ravens' that we discussed above, you will have to spend more time recruiting these candidates. Since these candidates are highly sought after by many organizations, a larger charm offensive will also be needed to effectively sign the contract: better working conditions, an attractive salary package, promises for learning and growth opportunities within the organization. In summary, broadening your view of potential future employees will make the recruiting and hiring process more efficient in terms of both time and resources.


Tips & tricks to make your organization diversity-proof

Have you meanwhile become convinced of the value of diversity in the organization? Great! But how do you approach this, diversity in your organization? In what follows, we want to give you a number of tips & tricks to make the recruitment and selection process of your organization diversity-proof.

As always, it is important that you first become aware of potential pitfalls. As an employer or HR manager, you should know that blind spots or cognitive biases are present. Biases are social stereotypes about various social and identity groups that stem from one's tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing. In our daily lives, these stereotypes and biases help us organize, simplify, and make sense of a myriad of information we encounter. In the store, for example, we make a flawless distinction between fruit, meat and vegetables, so that we eventually leave that store with a varied shopping cart. Imagine standing in the store and wondering over and over again 'Is an apple fruit or meat?'. Your shopping trip would be a lot more tiring. However, during the recruitment and selection process, these biases often cause us to unjustifiably push candidates into boxes. This process is often unfairly detrimental to the person being judged. Be aware that these biases exist, regardless of your good intentions, and actively try to avoid them! Some common diversity management biases include:

1. Representativeness bias: This happens when people use categories to make judgments and draw conclusions.

2. Availability bias: This refers to the tendency that people give more weight to the information that they can easily recall and hence overestimate the likelihood of an event. For example, as an employer, you want to recruit a new Computer Engineer. This is a function that is generally more often performed by men than women. Because your mind is more likely to associate a Computer Engineer with a male gender, you will probably initially be more inclined to look for a man to fill the vacancy.


3. Anchoring effect: This refers to people’s tendency to be heavily influenced by the initial information they receive. For example, traditional organizational roles, especially those in more powerful positions, have been long anchored in a white male prototype.


Understanding and good intentions are not enough. If you want to increase diversity within the organization, you must pursue an active diversity policy. Be aware of the diversity policy your organization uses and communicate this policy within the organization. Managing diversity is not only the task of the CEO of an organization, every supervisor, recruiter and employee must understand the company's policies, guidelines and legislation on workplace diversity. If you as an employee or manager have no idea what the diversity policy is within the organization, then ask yourself why. If you have no idea what policies there are, we have the four most common ones summed up:


1. Equal opportunities policy: This policy is aimed at eliminating all discrimination and providing equal opportunities to all applicants, regardless of their personal characteristics.


2. Opportunity policy: This policy is aimed at having more diverse qualified applicants in the applicant pool, for example by organizing training programs for the target groups or by actively encouraging them to apply. For example, if you want more diversity in terms of ethnicity within the team of HR Business partners, you will explicitly encourage people with different ethnic backgrounds to apply for the position of HR Business Partner in the HR department.


3. Tie-break policy: This policy states that if two candidates are equally qualified, the candidate is preferably selected from the target group that is currently in the minority within the organization. For example, an organization is looking for a new salesperson. Their sales team is currently composed of 5 men and 4 women. When a man and a woman with equal competences apply for the position, they are more likely to choose the woman.


4. Quota policy: a quota policy states that candidates from the various target group are chosen over other candidates, even when they are less qualified, until a certain quota is reached, for example 5% of the recruitments. Of course the candidate must have the minimum required competences. Government institutions, for example, often opt for this diversity policy.

Once you have chosen your diversity policy, you need to adapt your recruitment and application procedures to the target group you want to address:

1. Make sure potential candidates find you. Recruit applicants through channels that are specifically aimed at the intended target group. If you want to attract more older employees, recruiting candidates through campus recruitment is not the smartest choice. This target group is more likely to look for a job through an employment agency, an online vacancy or through word-of-mouth communication. In addition, you can hire selection and recruitment agencies that focus on recruiting your intended target group and provide a diverse talent pool.

2. While recruiting, it is smart to emphasize your successes in diversity and thus demonstrate your competence in managing diversity! Another tip, make use of a recruiter who is part of the target group himself. For example, if you want to be known for your inclusion policies regardless of the mental and physical characteristics of the individual applicant you might consider having a recruiter with a disability. This gives a strong signal to your target group. Actions speak louder than words.

3. In addition to drawing up a diversity policy, you must also ensure that you communicate this policy to the outside world. Use images in advertisements or on your website that show the diversity of your employees. Emphasize the value you attach to diversity as an organization through corporate social responsibility, for example by sponsoring events or associations that focus on minority groups.


Be the change that you want to see in the world - Gandhi

We can conclude that today we live in a super diverse society. Both in terms of origin, cultural background, mother tongue and religion. This diversity poses a number of challenges for every organization, but also creates opportunities at the same time! Commitment to diversity is therefore important not only today but also in the future.

Diversity and inclusivity are not achieved by good intentions alone, it is your actions that really make the difference. Dare to look beyond the ‘white ravens’ that all organizations prey on and make a difference as an organization through your diversity policy. Is diversity new to you? We can also make a difference by taking small steps in the right direction!

We wish you good luck in reviewing your diversity policy!

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