Recruiting and retaining a diverse team will yield significantly better results. McKinsey studies show that ethnically and gender-diverse teams yield significantly greater financial performance for companies, especially among executive teams. Diverse teams outperform less diverse teams by as much as a third or more.
Studies also show that diversity hiring helps organizations:
- Expands their talent pool
- Increase skills, talents, and experiences
- Improve innovation and creativity
- Improve problem-solving capabilities
Harvard Business Review research shows that more diverse organizations are significantly better positioned for companies looking to grow and expand into new markets. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are also important to employees. Nearly three-quarters of employees agree or strongly agree that diversity in the workplace is essential.
Implementing and Ensuring Diversity in Hiring Strategy
In today’s job market, companies need to refine their hiring strategy if they want to attract a diverse pool of candidates.
Companies need to assess the marketplace and set realistic diversity hiring targets. This brings diversity to the forefront and helps organizations evaluate their current and future needs. How companies achieve those goals often comes down to how they communicate.
Setting clear expectations, objectives, and goals should be a top priority for organizations that want to improve workplace diversity.
Avoid Poor Communication
So, how do organizations avoid poor communication? Here are a few areas to evaluate to get started.
Review Job Ads
Poor communication can enter hiring practices inadvertently. To attract diverse talent, businesses need to be aware of how this happens. For example, Hewlett Packard’s tracking showed that men tend to apply for jobs if they have 60% of the qualifications. However, women tend to apply only if they meet 100% of the qualifications.
So, the more job qualifications listed, the fewer women are likely to apply. Stick to the core, must-have requirements, and avoid the laundry list to attract more diverse candidates.
Candidates from different countries may also have different skills, training, or degrees. So, requiring a specific educational background may discriminate against candidates that have different backgrounds.
Check Brand Messaging and Reputation
If companies have a poor reputation when it comes to diversity or send the wrong brand messages, diversity hiring is going to be an uphill battle. Take proactive steps to foster diversity within the organization. Review branding to ensure the images and messages used appeal to diverse candidates. For example:
- Is there true diversity within your organization?
- Do pictures of team members on websites or job boards reflect a diverse staff?
- Do time off policies include more religious holidays or important events for diverse employees?
- Are pay scales within the organization equitable?
Improve Listening Skills
Cultural groups may communicate differently, so it’s crucial to ask probing questions and listen carefully to the answers. Understand that when two people from different cultural groups are talking, the process may be slower and require follow-up questions to extract additional information.
This also helps to overcome any potential language barriers that exist.
For example, business communication styles in Western cultures tend to be direct, while other cultures tend to be more discrete in how they communicate. Active listening skills will be essential to avoid confusion.
This is especially important for employees that have to communicate in a language that is not their native language. They may be subject matter experts but have difficulty communicating in a second language.
Be Aware of Body Language
Different cultural groups have different norms for body language. Job applicants in the U.S. are coached to have a firm handshake and maintain eye contact with the hiring manager. Yet, many Far East countries perceive a strong handshake as aggressive. In some cultures, a limp handshake is a standard. Eye contact also varies across different groups. In some countries, strong eye contact is considered inappropriate and even confrontational.
There are plenty of other cultural differences when it comes to body language and gestures. Nodding is seen as a sign of acceptance or agreement in Western cultures, and in other cultures, a nod may signify acknowledgment rather than agreement. The OK sign and thumbs up may be perfectly acceptable in the U.S., but they are seen as extremely offensive and insensitive in some cultures.
HR teams and hiring managers need to be aware of these cultural differences and how they communicate when interviewing. So, next time a candidate doesn’t look you in the eye or offer a firm handshake, don’t judge them based on body language alone.
Help Diverse Hires Succeed
Some workplaces may struggle to successfully integrate diverse employees into their organization. This requires effective communication with current employees and the onboarding process for new hires.
Current employees need to understand the value of diversity in hiring and develop an appreciation for cultural differences. This is especially important for managers that may have to adapt their communication style to use inclusive language and account for cultural practices and norms. It can be easy to offend someone unintentionally by using the word words or communication styles.
New employees may need a mentor to help them navigate the existing cultural differences. Workplace norms that are taken for granted may be foreign concepts to those from different cultures. Mentors can help new hires better understand expectations and provide new hires with a person they can go to when they have questions or concerns without judgment.
Hiring and Retaining a Diverse Workforce
In most cases, improving hiring diversity and retaining a diverse workforce can be summed up in one word: Respect. When companies show respect for different cultures and genders, they provide a more positive, inclusive culture. That starts with the way leaders, managers, and team members communicate with each other and demonstrate respect.
Paul Dughi has held executive management positions in the media industry for the past 30 years. He earned his master of business administration degree while working full-time as President of a multistation television group and is the author of two books on marketing and management.
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