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Talent acquisition and management consulting firm, Alexander Mann Solutions, has outlined the seven key factors that organisations must consider if they are to succeed in building truly diverse teams. Its ‘Seven Pillars of Change’ methodology highlights each area that should be reviewed when implementing a strategic workplace diversity strategy.

1) Metrics & Leadership - Clarity and visibility of diversity data are key to any diversity initiative. As the old adage goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure; and without reporting it is almost impossible to understand the case for change, get buy-in and mobilise the organisation for action. Use technology to track diversity data and predictive modelling analytics to be clear on how your new strategy translates into realistic goals. Is there the external talent availability for you to achieve your objectives?

2) Branding, Employer Value Proposition & Communications – While the power of employer brand is now unanimously recognised, many HR and communications professionals are yet to allow for the fact that different employee segments view brands in different ways. When reviewing brand perception, it’s key that you understand the desired proposition for each segment and tailor communications accordingly. A job ad that uses what may be perceived to be ‘masculine’ language, for example, could have a detrimental impact on engagement with female candidates.

3) Ways of Working – This is arguably the most critical lever for change, particularly in terms of gender diversity. The ability to offer flexible working is no longer just a ‘nice to have’ and organisations that that have a culture of flexibility report significant uplifts in diverse hiring. It’s not enough to include ‘Open to flexible working’ within a job ad, flexibility must be embedded within the role’s design for the proposition to be perceived as genuine.

4) Candidate Sourcing, Attraction and Engagement – To increase diversity, organisations should fundamentally review their sourcing strategies. Internal mobility and referral schemes, for example, can provide a rich pool of diverse talent, and companies that are ‘getting it right’ have reported that up to 80 per cent of their candidates now arrive through these channels. Organisations with the resources available should have a dedicated capability in place to map and pool talent; contacting, engaging with, and managing relationships with potential employees.

5) Flexing the Talent Pipeline –Widening a job brief can have a huge impact on the availability of talent. Take a deep look at your selection criteria – and see if there is room for manoeuvre. Concentrating on core competencies, consider if candidates with adjacent skill sets can be upskilled and fast-tracked into a role. Similarly, Returner Programmes can be an effective tool if the barriers that led to a departure – whether they be cultural or skills based – are addressed and removed.

6) Inclusive Processes and the Candidate Experience - At the most basic level, established recruitment processes themselves can provide a barrier to diverse talent. For example, job ads that list a ‘full UK driving licence’ as a prerequisite – even if it is not integral to the role – automatically eliminate applications from candidates with specific disabilities. Organisations that have reviewed their assessment and selection processes to remove bias typically enjoy a 30 per cent increase in diverse candidates. This mindfulness of process should also be extended to onboarding.

7) Training and Capabilities – Organisations should provide those involved in talent management processes with the knowledge, skills, insight and tools to drive a diversity change programme. Templates and guides that address bias and behaviours should be offered, and there are training programmes available that address this specific issue. Technology can also be used through the recruitment process to remove help remove bias, through system prompts, for example, to ensure that the right questions are asked at the right time.

Commenting on the ‘Seven Pillars of Change’ Sara Hill, Head of Diversity Consulting at Alexander Mann Solutions, says:

“While there is no doubt that increasing inclusion is at the top of the agenda of many businesses, implementing an effective diversity plan, that has a measurable effect on representation, can prove challenging. By manipulating these seven levers, organisations can embed and enable sustainable change within their teams to operationalise their diversity, flexible working and job sharing strategy.”

“Fundamentally, building inclusive teams is a change process, and there is no ‘silver bullet’ which cuts through the complexity surrounding the diversity issue. However, the ‘Seven Pillars of Change’ provide a comprehensive roadmap that will assist decision makers in achieving their goals, irrespective of the diversity strand that they are focusing on.”

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