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Inclusive Talent Challenges for 2016

Date: 28 January 2016

Diversity and inclusion has evolved to become an area of increasing concern for businesses in every industry. In 2014, a Deloitte report listed Diversity/Inclusion as one of the least important issues on leaders’ minds; in a relatively short amount of time this mind-set has changed dramatically. CEOs from major corporations, including Intel and Lockheed Martin, have spoken up for diversity initiatives within their organizations and as a result a number of businesses are now looking to tackle the issue.

Fostering a diverse workplace can bring a number of benefits – from the ability to adapt more easily to shifting market and consumer demands, to embracing a broader range of services due to a wider collection of skills and experiences within a company. Diverse working environments have also been proven to increase productivity in businesses.

However, the challenges facing workforces seeking to improve the diversity of their workforce are numerous. Phaidon International is committed to supporting an inclusive workforce and our Inclusive Talent series will be exploring the following diversity challenges throughout 2016.

Inclusive Talent Challenge: Candidate Attraction & Pipeline Planning

The initial challenge of crafting a diverse workforce is attracting a diverse range of candidates. Such candidate attraction challenges often vary across industry and location, for differing reasons.

The gender diversity gap has been highlighted across several industries – none less than within the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Sector. Here the pipeline challenge exists between school and higher education. A staggering statistic from Girls Who Code shows that in middle school, 74% of girls express interest in STEM, but when choosing a college major, just 0.4% of high school girls select computer science.

On the other hand, in Switzerland the diversity gap spans generations, with several Swiss firms struggling to attract millennial talent. This pipeline challenge could stem from the fact that millennials cannot find their desired job in Switzerland - in the PwC Millennial survey, 33% of Swiss millennials stated that they feel they are forced to take jobs outside of their desired role compared to the average of 14% across all locations. Perhaps this could be a contributing factor to this pipeline trend.

With such a drive on the importance of diversity, businesses now face the challenge of attracting these workers and creating diverse talent pipelines. Pipeline planning is a systemic process that considers the future potential of employees and the business as a whole – of which diversity should play a key part. By reviewing both the recruitment process and the benefits available to employees a business may be able to begin challenging preconceptions and create a diverse workforce for the future.

Inclusive Talent Challenge: Positive Discrimination

In order to create more inclusive working environments, employers have been encouraged to take ‘positive action’ by supporting, and in some cases even giving preference to, minority candidates. Examples of this spans industry. Last summer for example, The Football League Board voted to increase employment of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) coaches and managers. In the UK last autumn, a police chief constable made calls for the government to change the law allowing positive discrimination.

Introducing quotas as a way of managing positive discrimination in the workplace is one avenue that has been implemented by some businesses. Discussion about how such policies should be implemented is rife with some even calling the justness of such policies into question.

Companies implementing positive discrimination policies need to carefully manage the message of positive discrimination to their employees. Such firms should be aware of how positive discrimination could call employees to question the fairness of the recruitment process and their opportunities for career progression, as well as the eligibility of ‘quota hires’. Businesses must be sensitive in their implementation of quotas and how the message of positive discrimination is communicated to current and potential employees.

Inclusive Talent Challenge:  Gender Pay Equality

A study from the World Bank Group, entitled ‘Women, Business and the Law 2016’ has found that there is still a wide divide between what women and men earn, and the different opportunities afforded to each gender. In 155 of the 173 economies studied there was at least one law impeding women’s economic opportunities due to existing legal differences between genders, affecting their ability to progress and choice of career.

"Women’s estimated earned income is 64% compared to male counterparts" – IMF 

Even in countries with no job restrictions regarding gender, women made an estimated earned income of 64% compared to that of their male counterparts; and yet the International Monetary Fund has published research showing that gender equality in the workplace benefits both businesses and the wider economy. A McKinsey & Company report backs up this claim, showing that advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth.

"Advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth" – McKinsey & Company

A key diversity challenge for 2016 is therefore reducing this gender pay gap. Greater pay transparency and pay scale restructures have been suggested as possible solutions for achieving this.

Inclusive Talent Challenge:  Diversity Networks

Internal diversity groups (such as a ‘Women in Tech’ group or ‘Black Americans’ group within a company) have been one of the ways in which companies and individuals have tried to support diverse and minority professionals. Such groups have been set up to provide a space for members to network with peers, share experiences, support one another, and help to drive improvements within a business. Leadership and mentoring schemes are also tactics used by such groups to support diverse talent with their career path.

Networks are often a popular strategy for minority candidates. For example the Financial Women’s Association found that over three-quarters (77%) of women employed by companies with no women’s network said they would join one if it existed.

"77% of women in companies with no women’s network said they would join one if it existed" – Financial Women’s Association 

However the effectiveness of such groups is often called into question regarding to what degree they actually help to empower minority groups.

Inclusive Talent Challenge:  Maternity & Paternity Leave

Maternity leave is often a topic of discussion in regards to equality and inclusion in the workplace. The UK Equality and Human Rights Commission has found that although the majority of employers (84% of 3,034) agree that supporting pregnant women and those on maternity leave was in their interests, 11% of mothers reported that they were dismissed, made compulsorily redundant or forced to leave their jobs due to poor treatment stemming from maternity commitments.

"11% of mothers were dismissed, made redundant or forced to leave their jobs" – Equality and Human Rights Commission 

Paternity leave on the other hand has recently made the headlines as social media site Facebook announced it was to offer up to four months paid paternity leave. In April in the UK, British companies introduced shared parental leave, entitling new parents to split 50 weeks of paid leave between them; yet very few fathers have made use of this entitlement.

Those championing an inclusive work environment question how disadvantage can be removed from those who leave work due to maternity or paternity commitments. Taking the changing nature of what constitutes a ‘family’ in modern society into account and reflecting new values when it comes to parenting may mean maternity and paternity packages require an overhaul.

Inclusive Talent Challenge:  Workplace Discrimination

Finally, tackling the issue of workplace discrimination is a key Diversity and Inclusion issue for 2016. A large-scale US survey has been conducted into the need for more diversity in the workplace and an end to workplace discrimination to be set. The Williams Institute from Los Angeles has found that 4.6 sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination complaints are filed each year for every 10,000 LGBT workers in the US; 4.9 race discrimination complaints are made for every 10,000 workers of colour; and 3.7 gender-related complaints are also made for every 10,000 female workers.

"4.6 sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination complaints are filed for every 10,000 LGBT workers in the US. 4.9 race discrimination complaints are made for every 10,000 workers of colour" – The Williams Institute 

Addressing different cases of workplace discrimination requires sensitivity, with each form of complaint demanding a specialist approach. The use of analytics and information garnered from HR resources has been suggested as a means for tackling such issues.


During 2016 Phaidon International will be hosting an Inclusive Talent Event series exploring the above issues and producing “How to” guides for employers faced with such challenges regarding diversity in the workplace. View further details about our Inclusive Talent series here and follow @PhaidonIntl and the hashtag #InclusiveTalent on twitter for more updates on the series.