Companies successful in hiring diverse talent but have trouble sustaining it

Companies’ efforts to attract and recruit from a diverse talent pool are proving more successful than internal efforts to sustain diversity within the organisation, highlighting the complex challenges businesses face in order to build a diverse workforce—from a junior hire to tenured leadership, according to research by specialised talent solutions provider Robert Half.

The impact of cultural perceptions on hiring agendas and diversityDespite a significant rise in unemployment levels in 2020, economic recovery is bringing new growth opportunities for businesses—leading to companies reinstating roles and increasing staff headcount.

According to the research, when making a hiring decision, almost half (49%) of employers think they are already working with a diverse talent pool.

A similar proportion (46%) state their dominant applicant profile is well-balanced with diverse candidates while 5% think their roles only attract a single dominant applicant profile.

When broken down by industry, one-third of Australian chief information officers are more confident that their available talent pool allows them to grow their team’s diversity than their chief financial officer counterparts—just 1% of CIOs feel their roles attract a similar applicant profile compared to 9% of CFOs.





Yes, I am mostly working with a diverse candidate pool




Sometimes. There is a balance between a dominant applicant profile and more diverse candidates




No, many of the roles attract a similar type of applicant




How diversity has been impacted during COVID-19The study says that with workforce restructuring comes the opportunity for employers to redress imbalances within their talent pool and improve representation across their workforces with more hiring plans.

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In fact, the creation of new roles and refilling vacant or reinstated roles has given businesses the opportunity to increase the diversity in their organisation, according to 45% and 44% of Australian employers respectively.

Corporate diversity, equity and inclusion programsThere is more to building diverse and inclusive workforces than hiring practices alone; it also requires companies to embrace diversity and inclusion in promotion, development, leadership, and team management.

However, the Robert Half research reveals that the existing DEI programs have not had the intended effect for all Australian organisations. While more than four-in-ten (42%) Australian employers agree that corporate diversity, equity and inclusion programs have allowed room for more diversity, a similar proportion of 41% say they have had no impact on their diversity levels. Almost one-in-five (16%) believe they may even have had an adverse effect, questioning the effectiveness of either the development or implementation of some DEI programs.

“Our survey results show that proactive hiring efforts can be a game-changer for achieving greater diversity among the workforce, and with significant growth opportunities on the horizon, many businesses are finding themselves at this pivotal moment. However, having the opportunity to hire for newly created roles or re-hiring for vacant roles won’t achieve diversity by itself. Businesses must ensure they support their hiring efforts with a culture of inclusivity that values diverse backgrounds and perspectives,” comments Robert Half director Nicole Gorton.

“With the majority of Australian business leaders believing their DEI programs have had either no impact or a negative one, we see that diversity remains a deeply ingrained and complex structural issue that positive sentiment and intent alone cannot solve,” adds Gorton.

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“To make diversity and inclusion part of the fabric of corporate culture and hiring practices, there are a few key steps businesses should take. Firstly, diversity and inclusion efforts are not a ‘set and forget’ project – effective programs require an always-on approach to refining and improving efforts in dialogue with employees and external consultants who can review institutional blindspots,” suggests Gorton.

“Efforts also need to be measured against evolving goals. Culturally, employers should lead by example to ensure the mindset of diversity and inclusion cascades down the organisation. Promoting diverse employees, seeking out diverse voices in decision making, eradicating potential biases, creating a culture of safety when it comes to expressing viewpoints, and communicating the shared benefits of diversity and inclusion are all essential building blocks for successful diversity and inclusion.”

Gorton says that the value of a diverse and inclusive workforce is two-fold when successful.

Employees and staff who feel they can actively participate, contribute, and that their views are being heard, they are much more likely to be happier, more motivated and engaged with their work and employer on a deeper level.

“At the same time, the resulting improvement to staff retention and productivity gains can be a real boost to an organisation’s bottom line,” concludes Gorton.

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