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Harnessing the difference through Diversity in Hiring

Numerous research articles and statistics published by Harvard Business Review, McKinsey, Deloitte, and others evidently demonstrate the value of Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace. Though diversity can be commonly associated with gender, age, geographic region, and other similar demographic and cultural backgrounds, it also refers to a person’s cognitive differences.

In 1996, HBR released “Making Differences Matter: A New Paradigm for Managing Diversity” on new ways of understanding the benefits of a diverse workforce. Fast forward 25 years, and we still find few management boards needing to be persuaded on hiring diversity and bringing a diverse mix of individuals to the table. The issue arises when focusing solely on boosting shareholder value and the company’s reputation. There is little consideration given to why diversity is essential, why it should be prioritised, and what influence it may have, even with a large amount of supporting studies. This stems from decades of disadvantages to some groups of people, who are now being granted the long-overdue opportunity. A company must not just hire diverse employees to meet industry standards, but also empower employees to speak and be heard, and learn from their diverse experiences together as a team.

Hiring a diverse team can help result in:

Customer-centric Innovation: The majority of businesses no longer cater to a single demographic. With the heavy transition into global markets and online presence, the customers are usually a mix of different cultural backgrounds. In a competitive market, companies need to constantly look out for innovation to satisfy customer needs by supplying products and services that add value to them. According to a Forbes survey, 85% of organisations believe that diversity is a crucial driver of innovation. Diverse viewpoints, experiences, and backgrounds are essential for developing new ideas. If a company solely hires people from similar backgrounds, it not only leads to groupthink but may also severely stifle out-of-the-box thinking. A company need employees who think differently and grasp the situation from a new perspective. However, recruiting diverse people is not the end-all answer; they must be heard and given a voice at the table to achieve this.

Creating High Performing Teams: High performing teams, according to SHRM, are a group of individuals focused on business goals with specialised knowledge and complementary talents that collaborate, innovate, and consistently create superior outcomes. A diverse team, with a solid foundation of confidence in the team, has the tremendous benefit of bringing in unique skills and experience to generate excellent business results. These teams may generate significantly greater business results than a functioning workgroup by participating in constructive conflicts, committing to the decisions that result from passionately discussing ideas, and holding each other accountable. Each person’s identity as well as the team’s identity is given enough power to stand uniquely while still standing together.

Company growth: McKinsey’s report “Diversity wins: How inclusion matters” shows an increasing correlation over 6 years of research between diversity and financial performance. Companies in the top quartile of gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to experience above-average profitability than peer companies in the fourth quartile. 2021 saw a massive rise of companies creating, testing and celebrating their Diversity and Inclusion policies in talent management. Though there is much evidence to support diversity as a primary driver of a company’s financial growth, it should not be overly focused on financial gains. Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025 and young employees value companies’ stand on equal opportunities irrespective of cultural and cognitive differences. 76% of job seekers and employees rated diversity as an important metric to consider when evaluating companies and job offers. Varied and rich ideas and experiences empowered to share openly by diverse employees are signs of a diverse organisation. [Glassdoor] This inclusive culture where employees feel equality and belonging is crucial for achieving company success. 

The cosmetic giant, L’Oréal USA set out to make the brand more accessible and cater to specific ethnic groups.  Its research realised the concern of its consumers who struggled with the unavailability of foundations for women of colour. L’Oréal USA’s group leader for research and innovation, Balanda Atis, worked on the project. As a woman of darker skin, she had first-hand experience with the struggles to find a foundation shade that was appropriate for her skin tone. Through a series of nationwide surveys in which women were questioned and skin tones were assessed, Atis and a team of scientists were able to establish scientifically that women of colour had particular requirements.

L’Oréal has a formula for diversity management: Diversity + Inclusion = Innovation & Success®  

Using an AI-powered talent attraction and acquisition solution, such as EVA.ai, is the greatest approach to accomplish diversity in recruiting while reducing human conscious and unconscious bias. EVA’s talent acquisition solutions have been rigorously tested to match applicants only on talent and qualification without regard for cultural backgrounds. However, hiring diverse talent alone cannot help a company achieve success and its common goal. When diverse talent is empowered to make decisions and bring their expertise and experience to the table to act in the best interests of the organisation, they can unquestionably be a significant asset.


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