How recruiting a diverse workforce can boost your bottom line

Cut out figures in different colours held in someone's hand

Why do you want this role? It’s the classic starter-for-ten interview question, but employers rarely think about what they want to hear in response.  Now, imagine your candidates represent a diverse pool of talent and want to work for you because they can see your brand genuinely embraces a culture of Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DEI).

Being an inclusive employer means you’ll have access to a broader talent pool and a more engaged, loyal, and innovative workforce.  It will also boost your bottom line.

For potential recruits, DEI is an important consideration. In a Glassdoor survey of job seekers and employers, 72% said that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers.

72% of employers and job seekers said that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers

In addition, employees’ turnover rates within businesses with rich company cultures are 13.9%, compared to 48.4% within organisations with poor company cultures. 72% of employers and job seekers said that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers.

The Business Benefits of a Diverse workforce

As a report by McKinsey says, “More diverse companies, we believe, are better able to win top talent and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making, and all that leads to a virtuous cycle of increasing returns.”

The report found that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians (exhibit).

In the UK, greater gender diversity on the senior-executive team corresponded to the highest performance uplift in our data set. For every 10% increase in gender diversity, earnings before interest and tax rose by 3.5%.

Business benefits of a disability inclusion strategy

Likewise, companies that lead in disability inclusion outperform their peers. A report by Accenture looked at companies in the Disability Equality Index. The report found that of the companies Accenture identified as standing out for their leadership in areas relating to disability employment and inclusion, they had over four years on average:

The figures were in comparison to the other companies in the DEI.

In addition, a previous Accenture report found that “employees with disabilities offer substantial business benefits — including increased innovation, improved productivity, and a better work environment.”

Diverse recruitment: Hiring challenges

Recruitment presents a particular challenge. While potential employees are accustomed to filling in Equality and Diversity forms as part of the process, these rely on self-disclosure, and not all recruits are willing to disclose.

Reluctance to disclose is particularly relevant for those with “hidden” disabilities.

Some 30% of white-collar workers have disabilities. Still, only 39% of disabled employees disclose this information to their managers, according to research from the Center for Talent Innovation as cited in Harvard Business Review.

The actual statistics could be higher as they don’t necessarily include those who have a condition that they don’t choose to call a disability (dyslexia, for example).

Business challenges for DEI professionals

Recruitment is one of several priorities for diversity, equality, and inclusion professionals. Among the senior-most D&I positions within organisations, priorities for the next 12-18 months are “equal parts recruitment and retention; diversity and inclusion training and learning and development; and fostering a diverse and inclusive work culture (each 33 per cent), says a report by Weber Shandick.

According to Weber Shandwick, there are many delivery challenges; the chief among them is making the business case for DEI despite the evidence. The second biggest challenge comes in “making diversity and inclusion outcomes visible externally”, which would help attract a diverse talent pool.

58% of job seekers and employees say their employer should be doing more to increase the diversity of its workforce

Internal visibility matters, too. According to the Glassdoor survey, 58% of job seekers and employees say their employer should be doing more to increase the diversity of its workforce. “Today’s job seekers want to know what potential employers are doing, not just saying, to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces,” said the report.

Plus, there’s the growing challenge of hybrid and remote working. For example, two-thirds of remote workers experience loneliness and isolation.

How to create a culture of diversity and inclusion

a group of employees in a huddle. Hands held aloft.So, how do you create an inclusive culture? A rise in D&I job opportunities points to the growing focus on inclusive workplaces; Between September 2019 and September 2020, Indeed job postings in diversity and inclusion rose 56.3%.

Leadership is important. For example, any D&I strategy should align with a company’s overall business strategy.

“Alignment has a tangible outcome on hiring and recruitment, drives company reputation and even positively impacts financial performance,” said Weber Shandwick8. Its survey found that two-thirds of executives in D&I functions that are well-aligned (66%) ‘strongly agree’ that D&I is an important driver of company financial performance.

Four in 10 D&I professionals (39%) strongly agree with the statement, “The diversity and inclusion function at my company is well-aligned with the overall business strategy of my company,” said Weber Shandwick.

An excellent example of leading from the top is The Valuable 500, which aims to: “use the power of business to drive lasting change for the 1.3 billion people around the world living with a disability.” Begun by Caroline Casey, the organisation works with 500 of the world’s most influential global businesses for disability inclusion.

The role of Employee Research Groups (ERGs)

However, specialists are only one part of creating a diverse culture. To create a diverse culture, you need to engage with individual employees at all levels. There is a growing trend toward Employee Research Groups.

These are “a voluntary, employee-led diversity and inclusion initiative that is formally supported by an organisation.” Gartner As Harvard Business Review notes:

“For employers who want to recruit and retain these individuals, it’s essential to tap into the expertise of people in the disabled community to help guide your DE&I initiatives. If you work directly with people with disabilities, you will find lived experience and a lot less misinformation and generalisation.

Meeting the challenges of creating a diverse culture begins with recruitment. Some job boards specialise in recruiting diverse talent. Evenbreak, for example, is a ‘jobs board for disabled people. Vercida offers a diverse jobs board, as does, and Restless provides the chance to search for age-diverse employers.

That’s just the beginning, though. Accenture recommends four “Es” to create a diverse workforce:

Getting there requires investment, but the payback will come.

Perhaps, in hearing a prime candidate reply that they want to work for you because of your reputation as a D&I leader in your field.

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