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Five steps to creating a diverse workforce

Steve Brown, director of Empiric


The term ‘diversity’ encompasses a myriad of protected characteristics, and effectively engaging with all groups, although somewhat challenging, can bring huge rewards. While the recognition of the business case for diversity in the workplace is by no means a new phenomenon, it is now universally accepted that greater diversity really does have a positive impact on core organisational outcomes. The task of creating a truly representative workforce, however, has the potential to be somewhat overwhelming. 


Here at Empiric, embracing diversity is incredibly important and something that we hold very close to our hearts. In fact, in 2015, we picked up the Diversity and Inclusion Award from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) for our pro-active approach to inclusion. And although we are by no means qualified to dictate the direction of other organisations’ diversity initiatives, I hope that we can share some nuggets of expertise that you may find useful.    


It is absolutely crucial that organisations go beyond ‘box-ticking’ and think creatively when it comes to implementing a diversity management initiative. Investing a little time and energy in ensuring that your organisation is as inclusive as it can possibly be will pay dividends in terms of staff morale, retention and performance.


Begin by following and engaging with different diversity groups via social media for instant access to expertise and advice. Online platforms are also the ideal place to share your company’s inclusive culture. To date we have engaged with 30 applicants via Twitter alone who meet the protected characteristics outlined in the Equality Act 2010 – candidates who we may not have reached through traditional advertising.


Affiliating your business with organisations that are championing inclusivity is a sure-fire way to encourage applications from diverse talent pools. We currently work with the Government’s Disability Confident initiative, Stonewall, Diversity Jobs, Evenbreak, Race for Opportunity and Scope amongst others. By thinking outside the box and casting your net wide, you have the best chance of reaching the brightest talent.


Unconscious bias can manifest itself in outdated policy that is not representative of today’s workforce. Take a second look at recruitment processes, staff benefits and pregnancy and maternity policy to ensure that every group is considered and catered for. Small adjustments in recruitment practices, such as accepting UK equivalent qualifications from other countries, can have a huge impact on attraction. Similarly, enhanced maternity and paternity packages – which are extended to same-sex couples – can give your organisation the edge with regards to staff retention.


An inclusive brand must have a united voice, so be sure that each and every member of the team understands why diversity is top of your agenda. Creating a ‘family atmosphere’ at work is key to creating an open and inclusive culture. When Empiric joined the last London Pride March as an inclusive employer – the only recruitment consultancy to attend – we had a 100% staff turnout. The ‘Parents Page’ on our company’s intranet – where mothers and fathers go to engage with their colleagues when they are out of the office – is another example of our tight-knit, inclusive culture.


You can’t manage what you don’t measure – so be sure to record the success of your diversity initiative by collecting and analysing data on existing employees and potential recruits. This can then be monitored over time, as well as benchmarked against wider metrics such as National Labour Market data and the Lord Davis initiative.    


I don’t have all the answers. Diversity is a journey for everyone, but the more we all share our knowledge, the greater the benefits for everyone. Essentially, we have made changes that appeal to our people and those we want to attract - and these have consciously resulted in a super-inclusive employee benefits proposition. Every company irrespective of size, can make positive changes to aid diversity. Take a look and see what you could be doing.


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