Diversity and inclusion can help add untapped talent
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Diversity and inclusion can help add untapped talent

Quite often when I speak to clients, they have a bucket list of what they want in a candidate. They have in their mind an image of what they are after. There is nothing wrong with this, but sometimes it's useful to think outside the box and consider different ideas of what the ideal candidate might be.

5 February 2021

They are usually prepared to invest considerably to acquire the talent they need. The danger with this approach is that it can become expensive and there is no guarantee that your expectations will be met with the candidate you eventually hire. The upshot of this approach is that you naturally end up embracing more diversity and inclusion.

This is what I’ve experience at Badenoch and Clark. We've been in the Swiss market for decades and we know how tough it is to hire talent. We have worked with some brilliant world-leading Swiss companies and we have never been afraid to challenge their ideas on who the ideal candidate might be.

Embracing diversity and inclusion is a great strategy to attract talent

There is so much focus right now on the subject. You only have to glance at the HR pages for a number of Swiss companies to see that they take this subject very seriously. It's often part of the hiring process and intrinsically linked with the values that a company holds.

At the same time, there is scepticism from both candidates and employees about how serious companies are about this subject. I have heard criticisms that this is merely a tick box exercise for hiring managers.

Well, here's an alternative perspective. If you don't embrace diversity and inclusion as part of your hiring process, then what you are doing is putting all your eggs in one talent basket. The danger of doing this is that the hiring manager is at risk of hiring a replica of themselves. Ironically, this becomes an even bigger issue the more senior the position.

What can companies actually do?

Diversity promotes inclusivity and can help create a more effective workplace. The challenge is that the concept can seem abstract and utopian to candidates, so how can companies make this a process that is actionable and delivers results?

The first step is to look closely at how a position is advertised. For instance, if you exclusively use a search consultant, the chances are that they will only tap their own network. While this is fine, there is a risk that they will favour a certain demographic profile that they are attracted to. There is also a risk that certain candidates could be miss completely by the search consultants, which means a smaller talent pool to hire from.

The platform that is used to advertise the position is also important. It can have a huge influence on the type of candidates that apply for the role. The solution here is very simple. When advertising a position, try to use different portals to make sure as many talented candidates see the position that's available.

The other aspect is how companies actually advertise the role. For instance, the job posting could be reworded to make it more friendly and accessible to female candidates. A simple way to do this is to avoid masculine-type words such as ambitious, dominant and challenging.

The second step is how the candidate pool is screened. Many companies are already actively doing this, perhaps without realising. Psychometric testing is now widely used even for professional candidates. These personality assessments can help increase workplace diversity because the candidates’ personalities are considered strongly during the hiring process.

The final step is how you present the position during the interview process. It should be shown as an attractive place to work for all employees. By marketing the company in this way, the company adds value to its employer brand. Furthermore, it demonstrates that diversity and inclusion is a strong part of that brand.

This is important because the interview process never finishes in the interview room. Regardless of whether the candidate is successful or not, they will take their impressions of that interview and provide feedback to the outside world. A good experience in the interview room can lead to positive word-of-mouth that an organisation embraces diversity and inclusion. In turn this can allow an organisation to attract even more talented candidates from a wider and more diverse pool of talent.

I believe that embracing diversity and inclusion is one of the best strategies to hire talent. The most dynamic companies that I’ve worked for do just this.

They never struggle to attract talent and subsequently they continue to thrive.

Luca Semeraro

Head of Badenoch & Clark
Zurich, Switzerland

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