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6 Best Workplace Diversity Trends For 2019

Adrian Dixon

February 13, 2019

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A big focus in recruiting in 2018 was workplace diversity.

Workplace diversity is defined as:

understanding, accepting, and valuing differences between people of different races, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, disabilities, and sexual orientations, as well as differences in personalities, skill sets, experiences, and knowledge bases

So what’s next?

Here are the 6 best workplace diversity trends for 2019.

1. Adopting a more diverse definition of diversity

Although gender and ethnicity are still the major focal points, organizations are starting to invest in multiples areas of diversity.

The most recent HR survey by Harvey Nash asked, “Which areas are your organization actively pursuing to be more diverse?

  • 60% Gender
  • 41% Ethnicity/culture
  • 38% Age
  • 14% LGBT

With aging populations and more people delaying retirement, age discrimination is gaining attention and will be a big topic in 2019.

2. Using technology like AI to reduce unconscious bias

Biases related to demographics such as race, gender, and age can be triggered by information on a resume such as the candidate’s name and the dates they’ve held previous positions.

In 2019, AI adoption for diversity will increase as AI can be programmed to reduce unconscious biases by ignoring demographic information when sourcing candidates and screening resumes.

Furthermore, technology like AI can be tested for bias by checking the demographic breakdown of the applicants it sources and screens. If the AI is disproportionately excluding a group of people, this oversight can be corrected through human intervention.

3. Sourcing candidates with non-traditional credentials

With unemployment at a 16-year low, there’s a general talent shortage, but one industry that’s really feeling the hurt is tech.

In 2018, there will be less of a focus on traditional majors (e.g., computer science) to open up the candidate pool to those with non-traditional credentials who are still able to show evidence of the desired skill set.

Whether this means candidates with non-STEM degrees who taught themselves how to to code or learned from a coding boot camp, tools that better assess candidates’ skills and knowledge are going to be more widely adopted in the new year.

4. Testing diversity initiatives with data

One of the big bottlenecks for increasing workplace diversity has been relying on practices that sound good on the surface but haven’t proven to be very effective.

Companies are recognizing that they need to start testing their diversity initiatives by collecting the data.

For example, Airbnb’s interviewers had been previously trained to find commonalities with candidates (e.g., hobbies, educational background, experiences) to help build connections.

While it seems like a good idea, this type of behaviour leads to similarity bias: liking people who are similar to us more in lieu of focusing on their work-related skill set.

Airbnb changed their recruiting process to explicitly avoid looking for commonalities and using objective scorecards to make sure all candidates are evaluated equally and fairly.

In 2019, companies are going to stop accepting things on face value and start using data to see how effective their initiatives actually are.

5. Standardizing the interview process to reduce bias

As Airbnb learned, standardizing your hiring by asking the same set of questions to candidates and then rating their answers on a scale is one of the best ways to reduce bias and objectively assess which candidates are the most qualified.

Companies can still create a personal connection with candidates through small talk and rapport building at the beginning of the interview.

In 2018, recruiters can prevent their first impressions of a candidate from disproportionately weighting their decision making by “throwing out” or ignoring candidates’ answers to the first few questions.

6. Putting your money where your mouth is

Industry experts like Bersin argue the most effective way to move the needle on diversity is to create personal accountability.

Bersin suggests that one way to do this is to tie compensation to diversity and inclusion outcomes, a practice only 6% of companies they surveyed do.

A Forbes Insights survey found that senior executives are held accountable for their diversity and inclusion programs performance through a variety of metrics including:

  • 66% performance reviews
  • 51% bonuses
  • 48% business/department reviews
  • 42% salary increases

Expect to see more linking of compensation measures to recruiting diversity outcomes in the new year.