November 15, 2018

Overcome These Two Obstacles to Achieve Greater Diversity

Many CEOs and CHROs say their companies can’t find or keep diverse talent, even though they prioritize D&I programs. Their great intentions run into two intractable obstacles when it comes to building a stronger, smarter, more diverse workforce.

Overcoming these obstacles is hard. But it’s not impossible.

Our Biases Stand in the Way of Diversity

The first obstacle to greater diversity is simple: You and your people are biased.

Don’t be offended—we’re biased, too. Everyone’s got some sort of bias, whether innate or intentional. That’s because we’re human.

Bias doesn’t mean that your corporate culture is inherently sexist, racist, or xenophobic. Bias doesn’t mean anyone has bad intentions. It means that hiring managers might prefer people from a similar background to their own, with similar interests both inside and outside the office. Or it might be something even simpler, such as using words like “assertive” in interviews and job descriptions, which can favor men over women.

These types of “unconscious” or “unintentional” biases are normally invisible, unless your organization looks for them.

When it comes to talent acquisition and retention, many organizations need assistance hiring people from underrepresented groups with the right skills. Many companies have enough diversity candidates at the top of the hiring funnel, but by the time offers are accepted, the pool has grown far less diverse. That’s unconscious bias at work.

Your Company Has a Brand as a Workplace

The second barrier to diversity is even more subtle. Your company has a reputation, and word gets around regarding whether or not you’re a great place to work. Likewise, you’re a known factor when it comes to building a welcoming, supportive environment for minority or disadvantaged workers. That goes for promotions and career growth as well as day-to-day operations.

Your reputation with individuals from underrepresented groups is part of your employer brand. Branding depends a lot on what your company says—however, in this case, your brand as a workplace is almost entirely dependent on what you do.

The inevitable result is that your organization doesn’t always match the best talent available to the needs of your open positions. Even worse, you risk alienating your existing diversity pool, complicating retention at the same time you and your team work to expand talent in a highly competitive hiring market.

AI Solves the Obstacles to Diversity

The challenge is both real and significant. 40% of those same leaders cited above can’t find enough qualified, diverse talent. 38% struggle to retain their current diverse talent.

So what’s the answer? Take bias out of talent research, talent acquisition, and talent retention. Replace it with a tight focus on skills, achievements, and growth potential. Identify the best of the best within targeted diversity pools and remove application processes that affect specific groups disproportionately.

That’s where artificial intelligence comes into play. Diversity is an area where artificial intelligence is an essential tool, helping us build a better, more equitable workforce. The best part is that it’s not science fiction. These AI tools are here today, helping organizations quite literally work smarter to meet their diversity goals.