Josh Graff, UK Country Manager & VP EMEA at LinkedIn, will address audiences at the IoD Open House on Tuesday 12 March on inclusive recruitment, and how to find and keep the best talent. Ahead of this, he shares some insights on creating a healthy and diverse workplace...
Uncover unconscious bias
While it can be an uncomfortable fact, it’s important to acknowledge that everyone suffers from some degree of unconscious bias - and even the most passionate supporters of diversity aren’t flawless. These biases are so deeply ingrained within a person’s psyche, that unpicking this behaviour can take months - or even years. But as business leaders, it’s our responsibility to tackle these behaviours head on, and uncover them within ourselves and our organisations.
To analyse your organisation’s unconscious biases, I’d recommend bringing in an external specialist to help you get a clear assessment. At LinkedIn, we worked with outside providers to bring these biases to the surface, guide us on how to remove them, and limit the influence they have on decision making. We also commit to providing Unconscious Bias training regularly to all employees.
Review your recruitment practices
Changing your business’s recruitment practices can make a big difference when it comes to fostering an inclusive work environment.
For starters, look closely at the candidates you’re interviewing. If there isn’t a diverse mix of individuals being interviewed for a role, then you should be insisting that there is. Yes this can be hard work, and yes this can take more time - but it is a vital step for any organisation committed to diversity.
You should also think about who is interviewing your candidates. By demonstrating through the recruitment process that people will be working alongside a diverse team - and that the decisions aren’t all made by a singular set of individuals - you can help to remove some of the barriers that prevent diverse candidates applying for, and accepting, different roles.
Break cycles. It has typically been common practice to ask a candidate’s existing salary which sometimes can fuel preconceptions about an individual’s potential. Don’t ask for them but instead set tighter salary banding for roles to ensure no discrimination related to gender or race.
Create sponsors not just mentors
Workplace mentorship is a great thing, and it’s a big component of developing and sustaining a satisfying career. However, more and more businesses are waking up to the fact that mentorships will only take people so far - and that sponsors have a big role to play in creating an inclusive workplace.
If you’re wondering what the difference is, simply put: mentors talk with you, and sponsors talk about you. It might not seem like much of a difference, but this nuance matters - an underlying challenge is that men promote themselves and their capabilities more frequently than their female counterparts. This isn’t just conjecture either - a recent study from LinkedIn found that women actually include 11% fewer skills on their LinkedIn profiles than men.
So this is where sponsors can really make an impact - it’s their responsibility to increase an employee’s visibility both internally and externally. Whether that’s by referencing their strengths in conversations with influencers within the business, or advocating for them when there are new career opportunities up for grabs.
Be patient, transparent, and resilient
Creating a workplace that champions diversity doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long process, with plenty of learning curves along the way. And while there are steps you can take to move the process along quicker, you shouldn’t try to take shortcuts.
For your efforts to work, the rest of the team needs to be bought along on the journey with you. Be consistent when talking about how important this is, and be open - both internally and externally - about where the organisation is, and where it ultimately needs to get to.
You’ll also need to be prepared for some resistance - there will be people who don’t understand the importance, or those who feel threatened by the measures. Although it’s important to take into account individual employee concerns, it’s also important to be resilient in your stance and not lose sight of the bigger picture.
Remember that it’s a continuous process
Finally, it’s important to remember that creating, and maintaining, a diverse workplace is a continuous process. It’s not a task you can simply tick off and forget about. Ensuring that every employee feels like they are respected, listened to, and most importantly belong in the organisation, is an ongoing job.
Plus, there's a huge difference between a workplace with different types of people in it, and a working culture that actively champions diversity - which is why it’s so important to continually embed these attitudes throughout everyone in the organisation, and bring the whole business along on the journey with you. If inclusivity isn’t being treated as an ongoing process, it becomes far too easy for things to slip back, and for those bad habits to re-emerge.
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