With the Great Resignation persisting, the competition for hiring and retaining talent has returned with a vengeance. Despite remote work becoming more common, along with employers having access to a wider, more diverse talent pool, employees still have the bargaining power. And if their on-the-job satisfaction suffers, they won't hesitate to jump ship when a more attractive offer comes along.
If your company is to compete in the global economy, diversity and inclusion must be embedded in the company culture. Considering all these factors, here are some actionable diversity and inclusion tips that can give your company an edge in the fight for talent while also tapping into undiscovered or overlooked candidates.
Lead with Empathy and the Rest Will Follow
Now more than ever, our society needs empathy, a sense of belonging and simply joy. In addition to daily work stress, your employees are navigating ever-increasing pressure from life outside of work, whether it's family care needs, personal health issues, widening political polarization or the latest global crisis.
The starting point is to show empathy to your colleagues. Be an active listener. Don't wait for someone to come to you with a problem—check in on your employees. Opening the door to honest dialogue shows that serious concerns can be discussed without fear of reprisal.
From there, it will be easier to assess the situation. Are managers pushing their team too far and driving employees to leave?
Invite experts to administer empathy coaching and have fellow executives and team leaders join the sessions.
Are people not joining company culture programs? Encourage participation in these programs by participating in them yourself.
Are people feeling unappreciated or burned out? Show that their work matters by celebrating the wins, professional and personal, of every employee.
As a company leader—and by being the first person to take action—you will create a positive feedback loop and usher in a company culture that fosters empathy, trust and a sense of community.
Adjust Your Job Descriptions for Gender Balance
Hiring managers may already have a certain image of their ideal candidate in mind before even receiving a single application. This process is prone to bias, which may leak into the job description itself. Certain words can be gender-coded and may sway a candidate's decision to apply.
During a session I organized for female employees, a co-worker described how she nearly didn't apply for her position. She ultimately applied only because she personally knew an existing manager. She confessed that she was discouraged by certain character traits listed in the job ad, including the word "aggressive."
Particularly in male-dominated roles—such as within IT or finance--words such as "guru," "rockstar" or "independent" can be replaced with words like "dedicated," "sociable" and "conscientious." Alternatively, a compromise would be to add in words that are more feminine-coded to balance the job description. There are various tools available to check your job descriptions for words that are observed to be aligned with either masculine or feminine traits. While it is not necessary to completely remove all descriptors, working toward having gender-balanced job descriptions can level the playing field from the start and help to ensure that all potential candidates are encouraged to apply.
Expand Your Definition of Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion best practices are continually improving and expanding, reaching beyond race, sex, gender and sexual orientation to further demographic segments such as people who are neurodivergent or disabled. Some characteristics people with autism may have, such as a meticulous attention to detail, are a major strength for roles in the quality assurance field, and graduates of the National Foundation for Autism Research Tech program are filling much-needed software testing roles.
Looking into talent placement programs for underserved communities will not only help you fill roles with untapped potential, but will also allow your company to give back to the community in a tangible way.
Gather Data as Early as Possible
One of the clearest sources of information, but the hardest to obtain, is quantifiable data. When starting up a company, you may not have a designated person to keep track of employee satisfaction, so you might decide that face-to-face confirmation is good enough for a small team. As the company grows, you may find that keeping track of employee satisfaction gets put on the back burner when the company is busy scaling up.
However, any company leader can set up an initiative to survey the workforce's employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS). Ranging from -100 to 100, this employee engagement benchmark can help you determine workers' loyalty and satisfaction while allowing employees to answer anonymously and honestly. Depending on the industry, a good rating is around 30, and a score of over 50 is considered to be exceptional. An increasing number of companies display their eNPS scores on their employer branding profiles, and high-ranking companies are able to corner the market in top talent.
From these data points, it will be much easier to create targets and key performance indicators that tell you how well your company is performing when it comes to hiring and retaining talent. And most importantly, you will be able to directly address the concerns of your employees.
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to be conscientious of what each of us as leaders are doing to set an example internally and externally. No matter how many initiatives are taken up or how many culture clubs are established, the example of what it means to embrace diversity and inclusion has to come from the top. All employees must be involved in the conversation and participate in the programs, C-level executives included. As company leaders, we must reflect and ask ourselves if we are visibly taking part in these activities. How do we set examples in our daily interactions? Only through our own self-reflection can we decide which way to move forward and how to create a company culture that removes barriers for entry, attracts talented candidates and retains valued employees.
Einav Lavi is the CHRO of Qualitest, an AI-powered quality engineering company. She has more than 20 years of experience in the areas of human resource management, business and finance management.