Why diversity matters when hiring

Published on: 24 Jan 2024

How can you tap into the benefits of a diverse workforce by improving your recruitment strategy?

Why diversity matters when hiring

The workforce today is made up of a broad range of people, from different backgrounds, ethnicity, age groups and gender or sexual orientation. Yet despite significant strides made by numerous organisations to enhance the diversity of their workforce, many still have a limited demographic profile and fail to reflect the customer base. 

The benefits of a diverse workforce are well known. Having people from different backgrounds brings a richer mix of experiences, both in cultural understanding and perspectives. This can drive creativity and innovation, as well as helping to avoid groupthink, which can be particularly helpful when assessing risk. Diverse teams are often more engaged, more productive and a better reflection of an organisation’s customer base, driving a better understanding of what customers want.  

Recruiting from a more diverse base can also help tackle the skills shortage facing the sector. Many organisations are struggling to recruit graduates in a competitive market, so making opportunities as attractive as possible to people from all backgrounds makes commercial sense.  

There are a number of ways in which organisations in the health and safety sector can go about this.  

Having a presence at university careers fairs will give students the opportunity to talk directly to potential employers, and can reassure them over any concerns they may have. If you have individuals working for you from similar backgrounds from which you’re looking to recruit, bringing them along to share their experiences will also help.  

Printed or online case studies of people who have flourished at the organisation will showcase the potential. International students can find it hard to secure their first job once they have graduated, so this is a group that would be worth targeting, including outlining how they can go about getting a work visa. 

Organisations still have more to do to ensure people can work flexibly or part-time, which would appeal to working parents. Other measures such as enhanced paid leave for new parents or those adopting children, the ability to work from home and flexible arrangements to help employees cover school holiday periods will be important here.  

Company culture is important. Events that revolve around alcohol are likely to put off people from some religions, as well as those who opt to be tee-total, from joining so it’s worth ensuring that any company events or employee rewards are attractive to all. Prospective employees will check company social media feeds, so make sure this is reflected there too. 

Religion and unconscious bias 

Other measures can help to attract people from particular faiths. A prayer or multi-faith room can help workers meet their daily prayer requirements, and provide some quiet space for others. And if you can be flexible about leave for religious holidays, make sure you reflect this in job adverts and the company website.  

Finally, remove any unconscious bias in recruitment processes. Make sure staff tasked with hiring have been trained in this, and consider blind recruitment, which blanks out an individuals’ names, ages and addresses from the hiring process. Making sure you don’t inadvertently discriminate in job adverts is also essential, so it’s worth running any text through an online tool to check for bias against women or other groups.