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Working Working for for Everyone: Everyone: The The Increasing Increasing Value Value of of Diversity Diversity 

Nicole Kuhn

Business Development & Partnerships

Published on: 30 September 2020 • 2 min read

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In a moment of unprecedented change, companies face the opportunity to grow with increasingly diverse employees and the challenge to make sure that no one gets left behind. That “inclusion imperative” was top of the agenda this month at FU.SE Digital 2020, a virtual event to discuss the future of work bringing together C-level executives from companies such as Microsoft, The Adecco Group, and Boston Consulting Group; thought leaders; and innovators including Swiss startup CareerLunch.

“This event is about making sure that we take the right decisions, that we develop the right regulations,” says Adecco CEO Alain Dehaze, “to support technology to make the future work for everyone.”

Diversity is one of the corporate world’s greatest current agendas. For decades, many companies have recruited employees based on “cultural fit”—will a new employee slip seamlessly into a firm’s working culture? That approach, however, often results in a lack of strategic perspective and cultural stagnation; if everyone looks the same or comes from the same background, there’s no one to challenge unconscious biases or provide fresh perspectives.

Over the last 15 years, more and more companies are recognizing the extraordinary value of inclusive workforces. In a recent survey of companies in Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States between 2008 and 2010, those firms with more diverse boards reported significantly higher earnings and increased shareholder equity.

Wall Street has taken note—today, more than half the companies listed in the S&P 500 employ a diversity and inclusion officer. And diversity is only getting more important: 60% of those positions have been created since 2018, according to U.S. recruitment consultancy LHH.

Instead of using the lens of cultural fit, modern recruiters are looking for “cultural add.” In this new version of talent acquisition, diverse employees still function well within a company, but they also bring innovative thinking, challenge biases, and broaden a company’s culture.

Sounds good for companies, but what about those new employees—do they benefit from this more inclusive hiring trend? Yes, they do. Employees who feel safe and valued for who they are consistently show greater wellbeing and happiness. And that doesn’t just boost HR teams’ retention efforts, it bolsters firms’ bottom line. “Being happier at work is tied to better health and well-being, more creative and effective problem solving, and more productivity and innovation,” writes Dr. Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas in Greater Good Magazine, published by University of California, Berkeley.

The most innovative and agile companies are embedding diversity into their hiring platforms in multiple ways. It’s not just HR professionals that look for new team members, everyone is a recruiter. That’s one of the strengths of CareerLunch ’s approach, which pairs relevant professionals (that previously might not have been involved in the recruiting process) with potential jobseekers for an informal meeting. By opening up hiring to include managers throughout an organization, companies are making both their recruitment process and their talent acquisition more diverse.

At FU.SE 2020, attendees learned that employees who participated in CareerLunches reported an increased sense of purpose. Diversifying hiring like this offers a virtuous cycle. The more companies can integrate this kind of collaborative recruitment, the faster they can innovate, and the stronger their culture.

At the start of the digital conference, attendees were asked, “How can companies leverage technological advances to make workplaces more inclusive and diverse?” This is where recruitment innovators are gaining traction. Using CareerLunch’s platform, a company with a mostly-male roster might pair female executives with female jobseekers for informational interviews. A firm with several team members drawn from the same privileged network could open its doors to talent from underrepresented groups. And a finance graduate looking for career opportunities may find unexpected finance roles in retail or technology.

From the discussions at FU:SE 2020, it’s clear that shaking up traditional hiring practices to increase inclusion offers benefits for both employers and employees. Embedding diversity into recruitment practices—through collaboration, process change, and technology—bolsters productivity, increases employee satisfaction, and makes companies stronger. Fresh ideas like these can make the future work for everyone.