I recently did a poll on LinkedIn where a massive 75% of people said that a company’s stance on Diversity and Inclusion is an essential factor when seeking a new role (no surprises). However, since the beginning of 2021, only one candidate has questioned a potential employer's stance on D&I, and I might talk to 20 to 30 people a week – so this raises the question; do we actually care about diversity in the workplace, or is it just a buzzword?
There seems to be a gap between rhetoric and action when it comes to implementing our thoughts on diversity and inclusion, particularly when seeking a new role. Is it the fact that candidates have been paralysed into inaction because asking difficult questions raises fear of getting it wrong or being labelled as ‘a difficult candidate’, which could affect their chances of getting the job? Yes, we all like the idea of an inclusive work culture, but do we like it enough to sacrifice getting the dream job?
Ironically, the sacrifice actually lies in not pushing on the subject. Organisations that are worth their salt are well aware that diversity and inclusion in the workplace pays dividends. Diverse workgroups that learn from each other perform better; it’s a fact we have preached for a long time. Research published by the Harvard Business Review found that diverse teams solve problems faster than those with more cognitively similar members, and diverse teams make decisions 60pc quicker than none.
Talent is the greatest commodity in the world, and it’s up to you as the candidate to not let it become a buzzword, to speak up and ask the right questions at interview. If diversity is left to the HR department, it risks becoming just another administrative issue that needs ticking off. It is obvious we still need to educate talent about the importance of working for a diverse team. If you’re guilty of just paying it lip service, it could quite rightly jeopardise your career.
Let’s talk selfishly here; if diversity and inclusion really matters in your job search, it’s your duty to ask the right questions to your recruiter to highlight whether the role is for you. You care about your progression and development, but did you know that an inclusive employer is far more likely to drive innovation and strong results in their workforce?
We can all agree that most leaders say they value D&I. Some do it for strategic reasons, such as keeping up with their diversifying customer base; others are driven by the need to attract and retain the best talent because it’s simply the right thing to do. As recruiters have gotten more creative about how and where they are sourcing their candidates, it has simultaneously allowed companies to flourish in the employee diversity arena.
In conclusion, I don’t think it’s a buzzword. There’s an apparent disconnect of relevance which can be mistaken for ignorance. When I reached out to a few individuals who voted ‘not fussed’ on my poll, the feedback was in the consensus of a privileged position ‘I am not fussed because I focus my search based on the possible progression/opportunity for myself rather than any other factor’. We all love the idea of an inclusive workplace, but it seems we don’t truly realise the positive effect it can have on our own personal growth and, alternatively, how a lack of it can have a detrimental impact on our progression and the opportunities the company can give you.