Written by Catherine Librandi, Senior Consultant Talent Management at AIMS International Switzerland
Talent diversity and inclusive/humanistic practices as strategic advantages in a globalized and changing world
Before developing the concepts of “diversity” and “inclusion”, let’s start by understanding their meaning to better grasp the differences between the two.
- The term “diversity” comes from the Latin “diversus”, which means diverse, different, varied. Diversity can therefore be applied to the variety of individual characteristics of human beings, such as country of origin, religion, physical or mental disability, age, gender, educational level, sexual orientation or physical characteristics, etc.
On a social level, diversity has always been a major asset for societies. It is what has enabled them to evolve and enrich themselves. It is what makes the world interesting, changing, alive and deeply human. It is what keeps us moving, innovating and creative.
From an individual point of view, diversity also refers to the concept of “otherness”, therefore to the relation with others and to the recognition of the other in his or her difference. This is an important concept because we are entering the field of empathy and social skills, two essential elements of emotional intelligence.
On an economic level, companies that have learned to deal with an increasingly globalized, complex, volatile, uncertain and ambiguous (VUCA) environment will be the best equipped for tomorrow’s world. To achieve this, they will not only have to anticipate changes and respond to them with agility, but they will also have to be able to constantly reinvent themselves, as well as to make the link between the old and the new in order to innovate. So, the more diverse and varied the teams are, the more companies will be able to innovate and make more subtle, sustainable and coherent choices since they will be based on different perspectives and sensitivities.
Therefore, paying attention to diversity when hiring becomes an important challenge for HR. Thus the question here is: how to ensure and encourage diversity as well as equal opportunities in the hiring process?
First of all, we need to be aware of our cognitive biases (prejudices), which are useful in many areas but can also seriously impact our ability to judge and our objectivity/impartiality. In order to guarantee a fair and equitable hiring process, it is important to base recruitment on the person’s real and not on their assumed skills, as well as not to be conditioned by gender, country of origin, religion, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation or physical characteristics. There are several ways to reduce the impact of such biases, for example:
- By comparing one’s own judgment or feelings with those of others. Including other people in the hiring process allows for a less biased, and therefore more objective, assessment
- By taking the time to properly prepare for the job interview, by asking questions about skills, motivational drivers, value system, professional background and, above all, by listening carefully. Good preparation can therefore reduce the risks associated with these biases
- By considering the results of an assessment (internal or external) including the use of appropriate psychometric tools (personality profile, motivation, cognitive skills, social and emotional intelligence profile)
- By adopting fair and transparent hiring procedures
- The term “inclusion” comes from the Latin “includere”, which means to put in an enclosed place, to confine. Inclusion is therefore the action of including something in a whole as well as the result of that action. Inclusion must therefore be understood as a unifying act, bringing together all the differences within a group (such as a team or an organisation), it is the opposite of exclusion and rejection. Inclusion refers then to the management of diversity. For companies, it is not only important to have differences within teams, departments, different levels of leadership, but it is equally important to know how to manage them with respect and fairness. When it comes to the topic of inclusion, Maslow’s pyramid can be a very effective tool. So:
- The first level is that of physiological needs: when thinking about diversity and inclusion, it may for example be important to adapt the salary system in a fair way, i.e. avoiding any form of discrimination. It may be also important to make working time more flexible or consider new forms of working (home-office) in order to promote a better work-life balance
- The second level refers to the need for security: here it is important to adapt company procedures and regulations (ethics and conduct code) so that there is zero tolerance for harassment, mobbing, homophobia or racism. This is a crucial point because people who are discriminated against may become depressive or have a burnout. In addition to the psychological distress of those concerned, the company may quickly be facing important costs, not to mention the drop in performance and the bad image that this can project. It is also important to develop skills in terms of diversity, inclusion and respect in the workplace among managers and employees
- The third level refers to the need to belong: in order for inclusion to be experienced naturally by all employees, it must be part of the company’s values and therefore of the culture. Promoting collaboration between different people and departments, encouraging teamwork and fostering team spirit, caring for others, strengthening bonds, all these elements are in line with inclusion and strengthen the feeling of having value as a group and being part of a community. It is important that managers communicate the values of inclusion and diversity and lead by example through behaviours that reflect them
- The fourth level refers to the need for esteem and recognition: to feel valued, appreciated and esteemed by others is a vital, almost existential need of human beings. And this must be done with dignity and respect for others, regardless of who they are. It is therefore important to adapt the system of performance review and promotion (performance management) by considering it from a fair and equitable perspective, for example by setting objective and measurable criteria wherever possible and by training managers so that they do not allow their biases, emotions and subjectivity to take over when assessing employees
- The fifth level is that of self-realization. Here every employee should feel able to achieve ambitious and meaningful goals, to have the confidence to achieve them, and know that they can continue to develop the skills that will make them better people
Your AIMS partner
At AIMS International Switzerland, we support our clients in implementing and managing diversity through training and workshops on cognitive biases, inclusive practices, teamwork, collaboration and conflict resolution, by integrating diversity and inclusive practices into the company’s values (inclusive culture) and by identifying the supporting skills and matching them to the key behaviours, by introducing diversity and inclusive practices at the heart of all HR processes (recruitment, salary management, team planning, performance management, promotion, internal development, succession planning, etc.), by developing the necessary skills among employees and managers in the fields of diversity, inclusion and respect in the workplace. We also offer assessments that can be used for recruitment, promotion and internal development purposes. Please contact us to find out more.