By Karen Young, Director of Hays Accountancy & Finance
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace has never been more relevant than it is today.
In light of International Women’s Day celebrated this week, employees should feel encouraged to take ownership of this and question the diversity of their workplace.
In a recent global survey by recruiting experts Hays, respondents were asked on a scale of one to five how committed their employer was to achieving gender equality. From over 1,100 responses, close to a third (32 per cent) said their employer was less committed to achieving gender equality, revealing women (39 per cent) were more likely to believe there was a need for improvement, versus 23 per cent of men. 45 per cent of all respondents said their employer was more committed to achieving gender equality, with men overwhelming (57 per cent) believing this to be the case versus 38 per cent of women.
Hiring methods are an integral element of increasing diversity among employees, and CVs are one of the many ways in which the process can be improved. Many organisations will judge candidates based on their most recent job listing, potentially overlooking talented and competent applicants without a steady course of uninterrupted career progression. This can particularly disadvantage many women in finance who have prioritised childcare at points throughout their career.
More and more organisations now recruit based on blind CVs, where information such as age, race and gender is removed to prevent subconscious biases from influencing hiring decisions. Using competency-based application processes assesses essential soft skills such as communication, emotional intelligence, problem solving and self-motivation, rather than testing specific knowledge of current finance regulations, which can be learned more readily and quickly than soft skills.
Favouring competency-based applications or requiring blind CVs is a sign that your organisation is taking steps to fairly assess candidates based on their skills and experience, consequently eliminating the effect of subconscious biases. These methods of talent-based hiring also demonstrate a commitment to overcoming the perceived disadvantage of career breaks which will positively contribute to diverse representation in the finance sector.
Demand for transparency around targets and performance is at an all-time high. Social movements and legislation may be encouraging honest reporting from organisations about their performance, but challenging your employers’ transparency around this will help you gauge their standing on diversity and inclusion issues. If your organisation is transparent in their diversity reporting, it proves their willingness to make a public commitment to achieving a fairly recruited workforce and makes them accountable for measuring and reporting their progress.
The recency and relevancy of data with regards to employees’ religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity and class backgrounds is crucial to transparent reporting and will reveal where improvement is needed. New data publishing laws are documenting positive change in diversity, particularly with the gender pay gap where much improvement is still needed in the accountancy and finance sector. In light of this, it is worth gauging your organisation’s efforts to collect and utilise this type of data in their reporting as it proves that they are prioritising and confronting diversity issues.
Ideally organisations should maximise the transparency of their reporting by informing their employees of their diversity and inclusion practices through effective methods of communication. These methods might include internal newsletters, D&I reports or team meetings. Crucially their reporting will be widespread and easily accessible. Make sure to engage with communication from your employers about their diversity reporting as their openness and honesty will encourage other employers to do the same thus bringing about cultural change.