We caught up with Katie Nelson at YourPrime, Head of Technical Consultancy, about her views on diversity and inclusion in the industry.
Ironically, the topic of diversity can polarise people. For me, diversity is about helping everyone who has the skills, ambition and enthusiasm to progress in their careers – regardless of gender, race or disability. It’s been almost three months since I joined the YourPrime team and one of my key focus areas in my new role going forward is promoting better diversity and inclusion when hiring.
Part of my university degree was focused on the psychological reasoning behind diversity issues, i.e. our bias about women and mothers in the workplace. Back then, I saw the issue from a purely academic perspective, but as I spent more time recruiting in traditionally male-dominated industries such as finance and tech, I started to look at how we, as recruitment partners, could make an impact on diversity and inclusion rates across our clients, and bring the insights gained from my studying into the workplace.
This resulted in me co-founding a Women in Finance networking group at my previous employer, running events across the country in London, Birmingham and Manchester, bringing hundreds of women and men together for networking. We held panel discussions talking about how to get more women into the finance industry and how to help women progress in their careers once they were there. This led to me sitting on numerous diversity and inclusion discussion panels and roundtables where I shared insights garnered from my recruiting and hiring work.
Hiring more diverse workforces – the challenges big and small
The experience also meant I had lots of conversations with my clients about how to support their own diversity efforts and help with challenges they were facing when interviewing and hiring a more diverse workforce.
For example, one hiring manager at a client told me how he wanted to make his job specs and communications more female-friendly but just didn’t know what to do to get started. He eventually found someone within his own business who acted as a sounding board and editor for job specs to ensure that the language used didn’t create a bias towards attracting only male candidates. This was just the first step, but a really important one that’s often overlooked.
One question I get asked a lot by organisations, is ‘what is in it for us, as a company, to focus on improving diversity in hiring?’ Diversity is good for everyone. Numerous studies show that when all staff are supported to succeed, the company succeeds too. Diversity does what it says on the tin: it makes your workforce more diverse. That means a more diverse range of ideas, suggestions and skills across your business. Otherwise, we risk ending up in an echo chamber of skills and candidate demographics, with staff simply moving from job to job in the same industry.
Balancing specific job requirements with diversity
We have to balance this push for more diverse hiring with an increasingly narrow ‘ideal candidate’ profile offered by many clients – where specific skills, in a specific industry, (sometimes with experience working at specific companies) are being requested. How can we hope to be more diverse if we aren’t willing to look at high-quality candidates coming in from other industries or routes?
It’s about attracting the best people to your role, regardless of their age, gender, disability or race. This results in more diverse leadership teams and more opportunity for innovation to occur if we’re looking at alternatives to the status quo. We can’t keep getting different results with the same ingredients and process.
Hearing these challenges around diversity in hiring from clients, and also speaking with our networking event attendees, has given me a unique view of the diversity and inclusion challenges in the workplace – and I hope to bring this insight into my work with YourPrime.
But implementing new diversity and inclusion initiatives is hard. For many businesses, the traditional hiring process is challenging enough. That’s why we’re supporting our clients with their diversity objectives, whether that’s an ear at the end of the phone for a bit of guidance, or providing a consultative service where more comprehensive support is required.
How we’re supporting our clients
Over the next few months, you’ll likely be hearing a lot more from me on the topic of diversity. YourPrime is going to be releasing a Diversity and Inclusion Playbook for employers – with tips and guidance on how to make some simple changes to your hiring processes to promote better recruiting practices for a diverse workforce, and we’re going to be holding a number of events in 2019 on the topic of diversity and inclusion, especially in the North West region.
If you want to discuss how to improve your own organisation’s diversity and inclusion when it comes to recruiting your next employee, then speak to me today at firstname.lastname@example.org or find out more: https://yourprimerecruitment.com/diversity/
YourPrime Recruitment is a recruitment partner to clients in the technology sector, recruiting for sales and technical roles. With direct industry experience in both technology and sales management, we’re a little different to your usual recruitment agency. Find out more at: https://yourprimerecruitment.com