Achieving Diversity In The Workplace Is Enabling Organizations To Win The War For Talent

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace require leadership commitment, established policies, concrete plans, and middle-management's buy in.

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If you ever thought that attracting and retaining talents before the COVID-19 pandemic was difficult, brace yourself- the real war for talent is about to begin.  

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The phrase "war for talent" was initially coined by McKinsey & Co. in the early 1990s, when the global demand for workers exceeded the available pool in the market. People became more attracted to job hopping for better benefits and offers, and the available workforce started aging. This competition on the global scale interrupted businesses and resulted in some projects being paused/stopped until qualified talents filled the needed vacancies. 

Fast forward 30 years, and the world is witnessing a new war for talent that is like nothing seen before. 

In the middle of all this global turmoil, where COVID-19 reshuffled all workplace cards, where companies have to decide between hybrid or remote work, where perks, benefits, and packages are no longer appealing to the global mass, and where the need for qualified talent that is familiar with the global digital transformation has spiked like never before, one crucial hot topic has emerged once again: workplace diversity.  

One might consider diversity as a not-so-new buzzword that HR professionals say à gogo, and organizations use among a set of cards when they feel a sort of heat. The truth is that, even though diversity doesn’t usually make it to the top priorities of an organization, the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for tech specialists, and the domination of new generations in the job market have put it at the forefront in the war for talent.  

So, how can companies win the war for talents through achieving diversity in the workplace? Here's a primer

1. Companies need to walk the talk and go beyond using diversity in cliché statements Though diversity emerged as a topic post the civil rights movement in the US, it has rarely gone beyond the cliché statements and compliance with political correctness standards that companies use to attract both clients and talents. To win the war for talent, organizations need to step up and embed diversity practices in their culture. Diversity and inclusion in the workplace require leadership commitment, established policies, concrete plans, company trainings and middle-management’s buy in. The process doesn’t happen overnight, but once rooted within, it really works.  

Related: Inclusivity Matters: Speeding Up Gender Diversity (And Breaking Glass Ceilings) For Female Board Members In The GCC

2. Companies need to make diversity a business imperative In a recent study conducted by PwC, it was revealed that as of 2020, millennials make up 50% of the global workforce. This generation not only cares about diversity but also considers it as a priority in their life. When considering employment or job opportunities, Gen Y favors a diverse and inclusive workplace over a cookie-cutter kind of cultures. Therefore, to win the war for talent, organizations must treat diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as part of the business imperative. This means establishing company diversity strategy and goals, creating innovative approaches, educating employees on the importance of the topic, and building a reputation around it. This alone will let candidates gravitate towards the organization and follow it. 

3. Companies need to build their brands around diversity Diversity attracts everyone, especially diverse audiences. Once the organization has established a solid foundation around the topic, it should mark its employer brand on every available platform. From the career page on company website, to the words used in the job advertisements, to candidates experiences during the hiring processes, and to employees’ word of mouth, every good-will action matters. Visibility and exposure of well adopted practices will lead organizations to reaping the benefits of embedding diversity in their culture. Applicants will flow accordingly, and hence the organizations should strive to optimize their recruiting effort by reducing bias in the selection process, building strategic diverse talent pipeline across the ladder, being open to new work models, and hiring diverse talent at the leadership level. All these ways will create added value and competitive edges over other institutions. 

4. Companies at “war” need to prepare their “warriors” The war for talent is one ferocious game, and if an organization wants to win it, it should take things heads on and mobilize all its members. All employees must be on top of their game, well trained on diversity issues, equipped and committed to the values that it brings to the table. During war-time, two types of employee “warriors” stand out, and advance the improvement towards a more inclusive workplace: allies and advocates. These two types should be groomed and nurtured as their presence is crucial to reaching diversity goals. Allies support other employees with diverse backgrounds and stand up for them in case of micro-aggression and bullying, while advocates speak up when someone’s needs are to be heard. These warriors help in increasing the overall employee satisfaction, specifically of minorities, showing them that they are valued and heard. Through their efforts, they enable minorities to speak up for their rights/needs, encourage them to refer their communities, reduce diverse employee’s attrition, and strengthen the employer’s diversity-centered brand.  

Committing to diversity is not one easy task. It is a series of small changes, one day at a time that, when done correctly, creates a positive snowball effect that renders benefits on everyone involved.  

Related: Why Gender Equality And Women-Centric Policies Make Good Business Sense

Jana Haounji

Written By

Jana Haounji is a seasoned recruiter with diversified experience across different industries, fast-moving and slow-paced, from retail, construction, academia, non-governmental organizations, and recently, startups. She is passionate about human relations, and striving when building connections. Throughout her career, she managed to streamline the recruitment life-cycle in companies she worked at and implemented industry-specific best practices. Jana is a certified HR professional by the Society for Human Resource Management, and she also holds a master’s degree in business administration. Her areas of expertise are in digital recruitment, interviews, and HR in the workplace.