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We are hearing from more of our clients about their drive to increase diversity in their teams.  Currently, this is also in the context of a highly competitive employment market.  Anecdotally we are seeing salaries rising to help firms win the war on diverse talent.  But if you are serious about enhancing the diversity of your team, what more can you do as a leader? Below are six recommendations from Chartered Psychologist, Sarah Clapperton:

  1. Look beyond your network. It is tempting to take the most direct route, using your own existing connections to recruit. But consider the diversity of your network – it is unlikely to adequately reflect the range of demographic groups you need to attract. Look wider. Talk to HR or reputable recruitment firms about advertising in different publications and in different ways to ensure your search reaches a variety of groups.
  2. Beware of recruiting for team or culture-fit. Selecting people who are a good ‘fit’ for our team or culture is potentially a way to recruit people who are very similar to us, who do things in the “way they are done around here”.  Recruiting in our own image is a sure-fire way to reduce diversity and create an echo chamber of ideas.  Rigorously define the behaviours, attributes and values that are needed for success in the role, and recruit against these, but allow for (and indeed seek out) flexibility in style and thinking.
  3. Use structured interviews. Research shows that using structured interviews, where all candidates receive the same job-related questions and are rated against the same criteria, are a much better predicter of performance in the role.  It creates a level playing field, allowing each candidate equal opportunity to show their potential. Use structured rating guides that include clearly defined behavioural rating scales.  Psychometric tools can add objective value to the interview process, but these should be incorporated by a trained and accredited user. The tool itself must be rigorously developed and validated, and relate to the tightly defined job criteria.
  4. Use trained assessors and interviewers. We are ALL subject to unconscious bias, hard-wired through learning and experience. If we can all agree that we are inherently biased, then we have a starting point for action. Train your interviewers in gold standard approaches in objective assessment, to provide them with the tools and methods that minimise the risk of unconscious biases creeping into their assessments of candidates.  If possible, use pairs/panels of assessors or interviewers (preferably representing a variety of protected groups), who have equal voice in the process.
  5. Walk the talk. As a leader, ensure that you articulate, demand and role model the behaviours that support diversity and inclusion.  Explain your D&I mission to your team.  Call out and address situations where people fall short of these expectations.  Create an environment where everyone’s ideas are sought, listened to and respected.  Ask for and respond to feedback. Then you will be able to genuinely demonstrate to new hires the value that is placed on diversity within your team and the steps you take to ensure everyone is included and respected.
  6. Creating career paths. Offering career opportunities can support retention of your talent. Ensure that your assessment of internal talent is objective. Promotion opportunities should be clearly advertised and the skills / experience required should be defined and articulated.  Encourage managers to have open and honest conversations with their team members about career goals, and ensure that employees with the right skills are encouraged to apply for internal opportunities. Consider creating mentorship networks to provide greater diversity of role models.

Bloojam are business psychologists who take an evidence-based approach to selecting and developing salespeople, leaders and sales leaders.  To learn more about our approach and how we can support you take a look at our website.

Sarah is a Chartered Psychologist with 20 years’ experience of working in selection and development. She is a Director of Bloojam Consulting Ltd.

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