Speaking metaphorically, what if a Turkish delight could actually fit the role better than another Cadbury milk chocolate? Or, what about that cherry cordial? You can’t know what each has to offer, and you could miss out on the best person for the job unless you give them a try.
Unconscious bias stops us from trying that new chocolate type and has also been called out as one of the main factors that inhibit workplace diversity. Here are some of the strategies that businesses have explored to increase diversity in the workplace.
1. Quotas and Targets
Just like a box of Cadbury Favorites, with its assortment of at least one of each chocolate type, organizations have implemented quotas and targets to promote workplace diversity. For example, Belgium introduced legislation for quotas and in 15 years increased the proportion of women in parliament from 16% in 1999 to over 41% in 2014.
The theory behind this tactic is that quotas in the corporate world can help put an end to the world’s “boys club” networks that have existed for centuries.
2. Blind Hiring
In the same way you might reach into a box of chocolates without looking, blind testing removes any personal identification details from prospective resumes. This includes removing the name, gender, home address and even the year prospective candidates graduated or the year they acquired qualifications from the resume. All that is left to for the hiring manager to judge are the candidates’ skills and work experience.
One New York City-based advertising company integrated anonymous testing into its hiring strategy. After implementing blind testing, the company’s human resources department reported a 19% jump in the number of women hired and a 38% increase in the number of ethnically diverse candidates that came in for job interviews as a result.
3. Keep an Open Mind
There are some people, myself included, who just want to give all the different chocolates in the box a go. My own medium-sized IT consultancy caters to pretty much every type of diversity. More than 50% of my workforce are women. My youngest employee is 18 years old and my eldest is 67. My employees come from India, Malaysia, Russia, China, Norway, America, Australia and several other countries. Some of my team members are living with disability; we have an employee that’s legally blind and another that has cerebral palsy.
This diversity has been key to the success of my business. It’s helped us win a range of clients and has allowed us to apply different problem-solving mindsets to our clients’ unique challenges. Our experience isn’t unique. Studies have found that decisions made and executed by diverse teams delivered 60% better outcomes.
So, what’s my secret to hiring a successful, diverse workforce? I haven’t implemented any quotas or blind testing. I’ve just kept an open mind as I’ve gone through the hiring process and actively prioritized building a team of diverse thinkers.