The Top-Down Approach for an Equal Opportunities Workforce

HR Insights for Professionals

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Monday, March 26, 2018

If you want to make sure your workforce is not discriminatory, you need to start at the top.


Workplace diversity has a bad reputation in some circles, with HR professionals complaining about box-ticking and quotas. However, if it's done correctly, fostering diversity doesn't have to involve any of this. It can be used to improve a business and help it grow, as there is far more to diversity than making arbitrary hires.

Deloitte University Press has coined the term "diversity of thought" to describe how companies can benefit from a more varied workplace. Employees of different genders, sexualities and ethnicities will likely have different backgrounds, which helps to prevent groupthink and promote innovation.

How to achieve diversity

So how can you help your workplace become more diverse, without relying on quotas? One way is to focus on aspects other than hiring, known as a top-down approach. It is easy to hire people from a range of backgrounds, but what you end up is a diverse entry-level workforce that becomes increasingly homogeneous as you move up the corporate ladder.

This makes for a company that produces innovative work but does not make innovative business decisions. Oracle recommends addressing diversity at every level of the business; not just hiring. When looking to fill a management role, for example, think about the advantages of promoting someone with a unique way of thinking. Even if they are not as qualified on paper, you might find they are more valuable than an obvious candidate.

Create fair policies

You also need to make sure everyone in your company, from top to bottom, understands that your diverse hiring is not an exercise in box-ticking. If your policies produce resentment, then not only will your workforce be less happy but it will also create an environment where new hires will struggle to fit in.

Start with the recruitment process

The Wall Street Journal suggests having a more transparent recruitment process, helping employees understand why new hires were the right fit for the job and not just an attempt to fill a quota. You could even give employees management experience by forming a panel to judge potential candidates, and making this as diverse as you would like the workplace to be.

Educate employees

It is also a good idea to provide diversity training to all employees, especially management. The people in charge need to understand all the benefits of a diverse workforce; as the Wall Street Journal points out:

"They will be implementing personnel policies so should be fully committed to supporting the practice."

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