Burcin Ressamoglu: An entrepreneurial spirit can deliver better diversity at work

 

Let’s face it, when you’re running your own business, pioneering a new sector or developing a winning product, wider concerns like diversity can seem like a second priority. However, getting diversity right can actually deliver a number of important benefits for your business, from achieving greater employee retention and productivity to ensuring the company’s overall success.

 

Making things better

 

Pretty much all businesses are aware of the importance of diversity, but there are still some areas that can be better. For example, hiring practices often fall foul of unconscious biases, causing potentially good recruits to be ignored. Overcoming this is an ongoing issue, as it not only requires businesses to eliminate any unconscious biases from their staff, but also to make sure that any prejudices don’t impact the decision on a candidate.

 

These challenges can often be overcome by implementing processes like blind recruitment to remove any internal prejudices that may be otherwise difficult to identify. Combining this with regular development sessions on effective interviewing techniques can also reduce the ingrained perceptions that some employees may have.

 

Companies that are looking to improve diversity should also take time to showcase the success of their existing staff – especially if they’re in roles traditionally dominated by one group, gender or ethnicity. Female employees working in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) roles, for example, should be championed in order to encourage more women to apply for similar roles.

 

Don’t make it a chore

 

Activities like these will create a more diverse team naturally and organically, which is much better than making it a chore. After all, if someone is tasked with focussing on diversity a priority, it will usually be added on to their regular day job and, if the there’s no HR department, the responsibility often falls to someone who is too busy to give the issue the attention it deserves.

 

This is where businesses need to remember the value that diversity can bring to the business. It’s clear that improved diversity helps the bottom line, with research from McKinsey finding that companies that are in the top 25% for gender diversity are more likely to experience above average profits. Talking about benefits like these will create more enthusiasm and make those responsible keen to develop new ways to boost diversity in the business.

 

Doing the right thing

 

If the people responsible for recruitment are aware of the long-term benefits of diversity, it’s then a case of enhancing those practices for continued success. The business should also promote these practices through numerous channels – both internally and externally. Using a combination of social media and internal campaigns to raise the profile of diverse employees can greatly encourage increased inclusivity in burgeoning sectors.

 

But more than anything, diversity needs to be part of the company’s foundation if it is to remain a key focus. Entrepreneurs are better placed than many other business leaders to make this happen, as they’ll be able to shape and develop their business over time and ensure that diversity remains on the agenda.

 

And that’s important. Conversations about diversity are now commonplace – in the media, within start-ups, and in boardrooms around the world – but talking about it is the easy part. In order to obtain the benefits that diversity can bring, business owners need to take real action. Making it a fundamental part of the organisation from day one isn’t always possible, but businesses must ensure that it remains a focus going forward.

 

By Burcin Ressamoglu

 

About the author

 

Burcin has been CEO of Sodexo Engage, specialists in employee and consumer engagement, since 2018 and joined from a previous role as CEO of Sodexo Benefits and Rewards in Turkey.

 

She’s a strong believer in diversity and gender equality in the workplace and is a key player in Sodexo Women’s Forum for Talent (SWIFT) as well as being an executive sponsor of Sotogether, a Sodexo global initiative focused on gender equality.

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