HR Magazine ran an editorial back in January about recruitment being based on culture, values as well as skills. They found that black and ethnic minority (BME) women still face discrimination at every stage of the recruitment process from potential employers. Turning to an industry expert, Emily Moore from LearnPurple, for some insight; Emily commented:
"Employers have long been encouraged to specifically target minority groups in order to achieve greater diversity and this is a laudable aim. And with the implementation of female quotas on boards, you could argue that employers should actively seek out and hire female talent specifically.
However, our view is to first ensure recruitment criteria are scrupulously fair. You'd be surprised how many organisations insist on outdated criteria that are simply superfluous.
Next, recruit the best person for the job regardless of age, sex, ethnicity and so on. It should be about hiring the individual who can fulfil the role and beyond; not hiring someone purely to meet minority group quotas.”
Herein lies the problem; firstly we need fair recruitment practises in order to ensure that the person who is most capable of doing the job gets hired. Secondly; there are clearly minority groups, which are being discriminated against due to outdated recruitment criteria and the lack of these minorities available in the process, resulting in some of these potential employees being overlooked.
In order to ensure complete fairness for all regardless of colour, race, creed etc., we all need to be on an equal footing. Given the absence of women on boards in the UK, the December report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), the BME cases and related BBC articles, we know that in the UK this is not the case.
So how do we ensure equal opportunity? There are two case studies we can take into consideration:
In the mid-1960’s US President Lyndon B. Johnson introduced a policy that would redress racial imbalances and start the country down a path to economic growth and stability. The policy was Affirmative Action and it was articulated as a temporary measure that was necessary in order to level the playing field for Americans of every race. The American economy has had it ups and down but it has also thrived since the 70’s, leading global economic growth.
Most recently we need only look to the South African economy for our second case study. Since 1998 Affirmative Action came into play and quotas existed in the workplace. Although the country had a massive amount of ground to cover; rising unemployment, the majority of the workforce in management was white only and the majority of the population lived below the poverty line, they endured through ten years of reform and have today shown outstanding results.
Today the South African economy is listed as 2nd out of 144 by the World Economic Forum in terms of Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking (UK is listed as 8th and the USA 7th). During the reform the GDP rose by 5.1%, during the recession and since the country is still growing at a rate of 2.7% with 3.8% projected for 2015.
So where do we go from here? In order to ensure a free and fair recruitment process do we follow the likes of the US and South Africa, insist on a period of affirmative action and try and repair an already biased recruitment process in order to ensure long term growth? Surely this doesn’t just boil down to equality, but it also extends to long term economic growth?
Or we could stop wasting time on what the person looks like and who they are outside of the workplace and concentrate on their current skill-set and explore what they can bring to your business and how they can drive it forward and adapt to the way you do things.
If you are looking for a more diverse workforce; a fresh, new approach to ensure immediate growth in your business, why are you not taking into consideration the transferable skills many candidates out there possess? If your business is looking to grow and diversify then it is going to outgrow that square hole; stop looking for that square peg!