How to attract and retain diverse talent

Although 64% of women aim for management positions, which is almost as many as men at 65%, only 9.7% of women have reached executive positions in FTSE 100 companies (source: Market Inspector, 2021).

31% of non-binary people and 18% of trans people don’t feel comfortable in wearing work attire that expresses their gender representation (source: STONEWALL, 2018).

Only 46% of People of Color (POC) in Tech said they were satisfied with their workplace policies on diversity and inclusion (source: People Management, 2020).

While these statistics are a shocking reality, they’re an accurate representation of the current job market, and really highlight the work that needs to be done to create a more inclusive working environment for underrepresented talent.

Companies have a tendency to focus heavily on financial benefits and company culture to attract new talent into their business, but this isn’t always effective. So, what could be done?

Support and speak out

Businesses can go beyond a onetime statement or campaign on diversity and inclusion (D&I), by implementing strategies on a long-term basis to send a message of allyship; supportive association with another person or group from a marginalised background. To become an ally, employees and business leaders should:

  • educate themselves on the history and challenges individuals from diverse backgrounds face
  • use their platforms to champion the voices of people from those backgrounds
  • use pronouns on any work communication
  • be seen as a business to be calling out discriminatory behaviour
  • appoint ambassadors within the business to drive the D&I initiative forward internally.

Everyone is welcome

Employees often leave companies due to feeling that their authentic self is not valued, and they can’t be truly comfortable being themselves around their peers. Businesses should try to create an environment in which all backgrounds are celebrated and there is freedom of expression. This can be done by, for example:

  • honouring all religious and cultural practises
  • providing private areas for new mothers and those that need to pray
  • evaluating website and social media platforms to see if pictures, videos, and language show all representation
  • ensuring representation is across all employee levels from executives up to board members.

Taking small steps to making your business inclusive could have a massive impact on your employee’s wellbeing, and sense of belonging in your business, as well as attracting new candidates.

Be accessible

Making your business more accessible opens up the opportunities of reaching a wider talent pool of potential employees. A businesses website acts as the first impression to candidates and clients alike, so using a digital accessibility tool such as Recite Me; a plugin that allows screen reader, reading, styling and translation features to be added, provides your audience with the functions they need to engage with your business. Physical changes that can be made include:

  • gender neutral toilets
  • ensuring desks and chairs can be adjusted for assistive devices to pass
  • offering quiet rooms
  • ensuring digital screens are the right size to be accessible and safe to reach.

Making these changes will make your business inviting to diverse candidates and also contribute to current employees feeling more welcome and valued.

Inclusive advert writing

Another critical window between a candidate and an employer are job adverts. Ensuring your adverts are inclusive and don’t alienate candidates from job roles will encourage a greater engagement rate. Some ways to make your adverts inclusive are:

Always including the salary: being open about the salary supports the closing of the gender pay gap – you can’t be tempted to pay one gender more than the other if the salary is already disclosed.

Highlighting inclusive benefits: showcasing what you do as a company will make employees feel included and valued.

Keeping it simple: select between 3-5 requirements of the role at the most. Women typically only apply to job adverts if they meet 100% of the requirements, compared to 60% when men apply.

Avoiding corporate jargon and acronyms: entry level candidates could find this intimidating and it could potentially put them off applying to the advert.

Being mindful of gender specific language and pronouns: using pronouns such as ‘you’ and ‘they’ should avoid adverts being aimed at one particular gender.

Introducing these strategies into your D&I business practises should contribute to retaining the talent you have within the business and make your employees feel respected, whilst also making your business a desirable place for prospective employees over the competition.

What people say about us
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My hope for the future is to experience women in technology as the norm. The early stages of my career in tech were shaped by women and I feel very privileged to count some of the best women in technology in my network of close contacts and friends. However, I know this isn’t the case for many women in the sector, who find themselves outnumbered by the opposite sex. Anything I can do to challenge the current norm and break the stigma for Women in Technology, I will do.

Katie Menzies, Women in Technology Advocate