Converting Your D&I Talent Strategy from Theory into Practice

How can HR and recruitment professionals take D&I from theory to practice? Our recent webinar with leading industry thought leaders offers some salient advice.

How can HR and recruitment professionals take D&I from theory to practice? Our recent webinar with leading industry thought leaders offers some salient points of advice.

Recruiters, HR professionals and academics increasingly agree that while an effective workplace D&I strategy is necessary to foster an inclusive, equal opportunity environment, it has also become a business best practice.

However, when it comes to translating this widely accepted truth into an impactful talent strategy, a balance must be struck: how can you, as an employer or HR team, build your talent pool, meet the (often challenging!) growth and fulfillment targets and facilitate a fair selection process, while also retaining the raw skill necessary to sustain your business?

We tackled this question in a recent webinar, where Capita Talent Consultancy Lead Mike Ruddle and Consultant, Karen Paginton, along with LaunchPad’s very own Kirstie Kelly, discussed how to bring your D&I strategy from theory into practice. The first step is gaining a true understanding of the nuanced applications of D&I and what, specifically, you’re setting out to achieve.

Defining D&I

D&I can be defined as simply as “the variety of people and ideas within a company,” according to Deloitte. But for companies looking to put concrete D&I initiatives into practise, this definition is too simplistic. Mike Ruddle argues that D&I must, in a broader sense, encompass “the creation of an environment in which people feel involved, respected, valued, connected and able to bring their authentic selves to the team and business.”

In other words, diversifying your hiring practises without making a conscious effort to promote a culture of inclusivity can only yield limited results.

Ruddle promotes the benefits of inclusivity in action, asserting that “inclusive teams tend to value and utilise the different strengths of each team member equally.” By encouraging collaboration among these diverse perspectives and skillsets, an organisation is empowered with the tools it needs to increase its creative output.

In order to reap the rewards of innovative thought that have been demonstrated to result from D&I, surface-level diversity efforts are not sufficient; instead, companies should approach policy reform from a holistic perspective.

Remove Bias from Your Hiring Strategy

Companies have to realise that “there’s no magic bullet,” Pagington says. What this means is that there is no single policy or technological fix that can eradicate bias and promote D&I. But often, organisations begin their change process with the wrong outcomes in mind.

Rather, Pagington argues that companies need to first acknowledge a universal truth: “If you are human, you are biased.” If decision-makers from the C-suite to the hiring department are open to uncovering their own biases, as well as those that have become cemented into the structure of recruiting, they have taken the first step to address and overcome these shortcomings.

Hiring is inherently a fast-paced, highly nuanced process, and recruiters need to be given the time and space to evaluate whether their methods are fair and inclusive. At the end of the day, your organisation’s D&I policy must continually evolve; a broad, cohesive and inclusive plan that includes many stakeholders is preferable to a series of disjointed, punitive-feeling bias seminars.

Bringing the Power of Data-Led Decisions to Your Process Through Reporting, Monitoring and Planning

The key challenge for HR professionals is how to make their D&I programme tangible and its results measurable. Moreover, there are dozens of technologies and services purportedly designed to make your hiring more fair and inclusive - so how can your company ensure that it implements the most optimal solutions?

“It’s all about results! If you can see clear evidence that a concept/tech/service provider can deliver you the outcomes you’re trying to achieve - then crack on!”

Kelly recommends that companies employ data analytics to routinely test the effectiveness of their D&I policies, using the information gathered to adjust and recalibrate as needed. “As humans, it’s impossible to truly eradicate bias,” she says. “But HR teams and recruiters can use data to test whether their D&I policies are on track.”

Kelly points to Microsoft as a prime example of the benefits of periodic D&I evaluations. The company wanted to equalise their hiring strategy, evaluating an equal number of male and female applicants without becoming inundated with too many applications to handle.

Microsoft realised that their numeric-based testing, which had previously been used to narrow the field, favored male applicants. They hypothesised that strengths-based testing would be more fair and inclusive, and then stepped back and let big data tell the story.

Their hypothesis was right, it turns out, and by opening themselves up to structural change, Microsoft has been able to equalise their hiring without sacrificing quality. Through clear planning, monitoring and reporting, they turned an abstract desire for greater D&I into an institutionalised reality.

(Image credit: Sajjad Ghanavati/Pexels)