Representing Diversity: Giving Employees a (Scalable) Platform to Advocate

Whilst organisations have succeeded in attaining some of their diversity goals, it’s likely that many remain unfulfilled, especially in a candidate-driven market where the competition for diverse talent is stiff.

At the heart of diversity is representation, but it appears that representation is the problem 

In order to understand why organisations are failing to meet their diversity goals, we need to understand what distinguishes representation from diversity.

‘Diversity’ muscled its way into marketing lexicon as early as the 80’s1. Since then, its persistent overuse has reduced it to nothing more than a hollow buzzword. Enter the term of 2019: ‘representation’. It describes diversity in action. In short, you need to show, don’t tell. 

Representation, then, presents a means to the end: achieving diversity goals in the workplace.

Clearly, the two terms have value in being interlinked; diversity is achieved through representation and representation through diversity.

So, it’s your company’s representation that needs a reboot. You can no longer rely on toneless corporate communications to portray diversity.

Most companies are aware of this fact; our research revealed that 85% of employers acknowledged that their efforts to recruit diverse talent needed improvement.

Therefore, the need to rethink representation is imperative, not least because companies are falling short of meeting their workplace’s diversity goals.

The fact is that the diverse candidate wants real representations of diversity from their prospective employer. Further still, as these candidates gain career experience, their ability to recognise poor representation borne of badly executed diversity strategies does, too.

The risk is all too real; whilst nearly 100% of employers surveyed by the Boston Consulting Group state that they have a diversity recruiting programme in place, only 25% of employees believe they have benefitted2

Evidently, the methods used by companies to demonstrate representation are clearly flawed; career sites and key touchpoints littered with buzzwords and stock photos simply don’t represent. Diverse candidates want more – and until you truly deliver representation at scale, your company will fall short of meeting its projected diversity recruiting goals. 

Real representation lies much closer to home. Why use stock photos and carefully curate content when you already employ the real deal: your existing workforce.

Your Representation Isn’t Perfect – But it Doesn’t Have to Be

Correct representation matters, but it’s hard to execute.

The likelihood of your representation delivering both perfect equality and equity is low. Perhaps your gender ratios aren’t equal, maybe there’s no creche on-site, or requests for gender-neutral pronouns are a sticking point for scatter-brained employees.

But you still deliver. You implement flexitime, develop extensive networks for women, and promote mental wellbeing. There is inherent value in diversity goals in the workplace that you are achieving. 

Millennials and Generation Z alike appreciate that perfection is inauthentic. By owning where you fall short and providing demonstrable representation elsewhere, you will truly deliver on your diversity Employer Value Proposition (EVP).

A case in point is a recent discussion hosted on PathMotion’s platform for Citi. In response to a question querying the gender split, employee ‘Insiders’ don’t hesitate to answer honestly. But by answering honestly, they argue that their other representation efforts redress the issue.

Certainly, the incomplete nature of your diversity strategy will inevitably deter some candidates; as the saying goes, you can’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

Those candidates that are on a quest to find a company boasting a perfect diverse environment aren’t necessarily the ones you want to onboard. If stock photo perfectionism is enough to foster the expectation of a diversity haven, then the reality of your diversity efforts will inevitably shatter them.

Consequently, your diversity attraction problem could turn into a retention one.

When faced with the choice between a perfection-seeking candidate and an imperfect diversity strategy open to interrogation, the choice is easy.

After all, those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.

Miscommunicating Your Diverse Representatives

You are delivering representation at the organisational level and appreciate that your existing workforce is the conduit through which representation is delivered. 

However, you are misrepresenting their voices. The bottom line is that your company cannot speak on their behalf – yet it is something your career site does. 

So let us revisit this sticking point – the stock photography and corporate videos you feature on the career site are inauthentic, and we have the stats to support why this is the case:

When we surveyed 200 Talent Acquisition and Employer Brand leaders, we found that 57% of them believed that diverse candidates were lost after visiting their website before applying.

We also found that of 1000 candidates we surveyed globally, 60% are heading  that way to gauge how seriously your company takes diversity and Inclusion practices. The correlation between these two statistics is telling; the content diverse candidates encounter on company websites is just not persuasive. As such, companies find meeting their diversity goals in the workplace to be an impossible task. 

The problem is content.

The recognition of this pain point prompted our analysis of 25,000 candidate questions focusing on the ones relevant to diversity recruiting to determine the origin of the content gap. 

Our results revealed that specificity is essential. Granular content is powerful –  it increases relevance; relevance increases engagement, and ultimately, this engagement drives conversion. If you want to stop candidates saying sayonara when they land on your career site, then provide the refined content they seek.  

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll realise that this is something that Citi’s employees are doing.

For an in-depth breakdown of diversity recruiting, check out our comprehensive guide. You’ll get actionable solutions to attract diverse talent.

And that is how you communicate correctly.

Our analysis revealed even more – we determined that the granular responses that diverse candidates demand correlate with the diversity group to which they belong, and can be categorised as follows:

Fit: ‘Are Santander looking to place ex-military personnel within roles outside HR (i.e. in risk)?’ 
Eligibility: ‘My husband has previously been to prison. Could that stop me from becoming a police officer? 
Work Environment: ‘How does CC aid people with disabilities, especially those who cannot work long hours due to a medical condition?’ 

The content need not be constrained to your careers site only; diverse candidates look even further to satisfy their concerns. Other key touchpoints that candidates are consulting include review websites, social media content and campus-based events. These platforms are particularly attractive as they provide the social proof  diverse candidates are seeking.

By flipping the traditional top-down approach of the careers site, and assuming a bottom-up approach to content creation, the control is placed in the hands of a representative workforce and diverse candidates. As a result, a repertoire of highly specific content is generated – and it’s one that expands organically. This solves the issue of the HR content challenge. With the explosive growth of HR content, an inefficiency challenge results; the impetus to keep up with the avalanche of content creation has never been stronger. Bottom-up is your solution; they provide refined facets of information– which engender others, ad infinitum

Subsequently, content saturation is no longer a concern and collectively, this granular content enables your company to get one step closer to achieving diversity goals in the workplace.

Want to find out what your candidates want to hear from you? Download our eBook on Diversity Recruiting now

Storytelling as a Tool for Persuasive Granular Content

Aside from the content gap, you have a persuasion gap. Providing highly refined and personalised content is jeopardised when it fails to be appropriately persuasive.

So deliver your granular content in the right way.

From our survey of 1000 candidates globally, 54% stated that real life stories from employees and their experiences indicated that the company cares about diversity and inclusion.

Our storytelling ebook details why stories persuade. Ultimately, immersion is sustained at a high level. Persuasive stories are delivered in narrative format, providing detailed, meaningful challenges and practical tips. Ultimately, they are authentic.

But their potential extends further than candidate attraction and acquisition; they allow Talent Attraction and Employer Branding leaders to own and manage their company’s personal brand.

Ultimately, storytelling presents a unique content marketing strategy that is purpose-built, and feeds into your employer branding by way of EVP. At its core, EVP is a storytelling device that is entirely owned and driven by the company culture. The company culture is your representation. Your representation is your existing diverse workforce.

Scale-up Your Diverse Workforce

As we’ve established, your diverse workforce are your best representatives. For too long stock photos, curated testimonials, and statistics have dominated your company’s efforts to represent your workforce. True authenticity is afforded by the people who embody it; they offer active and tangible proof of diverse representation, enabling you to build brand awareness and succeed at acquiring diverse talent.

But how do you make the most of your diverse workforce? After all, they are overwhelmingly outnumbered by diverse candidates. 

As it turns out, scalability provides yet another way to enable diversity goals in the workplace to be attained, and it doesn’t require an entirely new diversity recruitment strategy. Simply scale your existing employee advocacy initiatives by mobilising your representative workforce.

At present, companies at large are restricting their diverse representative’s reach. They are confined to static photographs and edited testimonials. 

Encourage your diverse employees to offer their unfiltered opinions and facilitate their exposure. Logistical limitations are placed on their in-person attendance at recruitment fairs and conferences, but the online space offers unlimited reach. Their responses drive engagement from diverse candidates and offer an unending supply of content that will allow you to compete with other companies in the war for diverse talent.

The representation that is embedded within the diverse workforce, can exist across all stages of the talent lifecycle, which subsequently delivers a stellar candidate experience. By offering granular responses in a storytelling format via scalable advocacy initiatives, you can get excellent results. In turn, both awareness of your brand and the candidate experience are bolstered; leading to unmatched delivery of diversity goals in the workplace.

Representation Achieves Diversity

Workforce diversity and organisational performance have only recently entered the lexicon of popular discourse. Whilst companies of old believed diversity was nothing more than virtue signalling for employer brand points, savvy Employer Brand and Talent Acquisition experts understand that diversity is so much more. From enhanced business performance and stronger brand value to candidate attraction and acquisition, the instrumental role of diversity is becoming increasingly well known.

Representation of your workforce is easy. 

Limited time and financial resources need not deter your efforts. You can understand how to better work towards your diversity goals by delving into our most recent research.

In it, we provide three clear learning points, that when put into action, will facilitate your efforts to represent your diverse workforce and, in turn, your ability to compete for diverse talent. To find out how to optimise the representation of your diverse workforce download our eBook now. Click for  here for the US version and here for the French versions.

1 – Penn State, An Overview Of Diversity Awareness

2 – BCG, Fixing the Flawed Approach to Diversity Article, 2019