Hiring a Diverse Workforce

In recent years, we have seen an increased emphasis placed on reducing societal bias towards genders and races and in turn we have witnessed an increasing representation of all people in the workplace, in the media throughout social discourse.

However, diversity is still a subject of contention professionally despite matters coming to the fore of international business practices over two decades ago when, among others, Wall Street firm Merrill Lynch was ordered to pay millions in compensation through sex discrimination lawsuits. These high-profile cases and the need for change inspired guidelines such as the Equal Opportunities Act in the UK and Europe and the Affirmative Action program in the US; but it appears there might still be a little uncertainty surrounding diversity in the recruitment of staff and its implications.

Critics of blanket hiring policies applied by employers often state that it is not wise for businesses to expect social restrictions to vanish simply by hiring a mixed workforce. Instead, companies who strive for diversity must not only hire a diverse staff but also nurture their internal culture so that the workforce can cultivate an environment where everybody is made to feel comfortable.

But the diversity debate goes further than this. Through a need to hire a certain quota of every type of person so as not to create a “no-outsiders” culture, are companies sometimes overlooking the best person for the job in order to fill the role with a person who will maintain a diverse image?

Assessing Diversity

Bearing this in mind, diversity recruitment performed correctly must ensure that a business’ hiring policies are wholly inclusive rather than focusing on filling diversity quotas only. A prime example of this is Facebook‘s COO, Sheryl Sandberg who was the first woman on their board of directors and has been instrumental in the growth and marketing of the social media platform since her appointment in 2008. Having spent 6 years at Google, where she built and managed their online sales channels for both AdWords and AdSense, Sheryl is most certainly the correct and best qualified person for the job and was hired for that reason.

However, it’s apparent that many employers use predetermined recruitment strategies and therefore may exist within a grey area. Due to this, it’s imperative that businesses conduct an audit of internal practices and hiring data in order to get a clearer picture of whether their recruitment process works for the given business’ model and if applicable satisfies the need to maintain a diverse culture simultaneously.

Using Metrics, The Right Way

Assessing hiring data can allow employers to choose metrics upon which to improve; for instance a company with a disproportionate amount of men in directing positions may want to set a target of female leadership roles and a timescale of when they might want to achieve this. However, meeting ambitiously set goals shouldn’t be a business highest priority, and therein lies the difficulty.

While admirable in intent, diversity hiring solely for the purpose of optics or balancing out the workforce can be highly detrimental for a business’ operation, especially when they assume a leadership position. A case in point is Ginni Rometty, the current CEO of tech behemoth IBM who has faced increasing criticism as the company faces layoffs and revenue losses for the fifth consecutive year under her leadership. It is widely speculated that IBM allow Ginni to maintain her high profile position for diversity purposes.

Instead of using metrics to set unobtainable goals, employers should rather focus on making sure their vacant positions appeal to a wider range of candidates. This can be done in a variety of ways, like being explicit with diversity statistics and the goals the company has set, following examples set by businesses like Intel who have openly expressed their objective of diversity parity by 2020. Businesses can also rephrase job ads and emphasise benefits such as childcare and accessibility to ensure inclusivity.

Choosing the Most Suitable Candidate

Enabling equal access to candidates from various backgrounds is likely to increase the number and caliber of applicants, however, blindly favouring more diverse candidates can also be a hindrance, so it is important to remember that the most important factor when hiring new staff at any level is how effectively they can perform their job. Therefore, it is advisable to utilise objective recruitment tools to determine whether a candidate is legitimately suitable for the business in question.

Diversity in Leadership

As an equal opportunities employer, Miramar is committed to supporting diversity in the workplace, reflected in both our own hiring process and that of our clients. We are passionate about the work that we are continuing to do in supporting diversity, so organisations can have a more diverse and gender balanced workforce. 

As part of our initiative, in the early selection phases of all our executive searches, we are continually working on ways to mitigate the potential for unconscious bias to effectively promote and support diversity in the modern workplace. We are experiencing a strong openness to collaborate and this is leading to more diverse candidate shortlists. 
Our objective is to attract and attain a diverse talent universe that reflects our clients and their customers. 

Talk to us about how we can help extend your executive recruitment search to reach the high performing leaders most able to maintain your organisation’s profile and brand, and ask us about our candidate behavioural assessment tools too. 

We take pride in the fact that our assessment process has ensured that over 90% of the candidates we place go on to stay in their roles for more than two years and that a large number go on to promotion and a positive career development journey.  


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