In a bid to be more diverse and all inclusive, companies are coming up with recruitment policies and practices that are non-discriminative. Most job advertisements end in things like the company being an equal opportunity employer and not discriminating based on various factors. These may include race, color, religion, marital status, national origin, age, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity or expression, to mention but a few. Furthermore, these policies are meant to apply to all terms and conditions of employment, including hiring and placement, promotion, compensation and training, among others.
Supposed reasons for why most companies come up with these policies range from promoting innovation and creativity, increased productivity, better understanding of different customer segments, and positive employer branding. Of all the reasons I’ve heard, one that’s closest to the truth is increased company branding, especially to the outside world.
Unfortunately, when it comes to all the other reasons, these are not issues that can be solved by simply hiring someone from a different gender, race or ethnicity. No amount of hiring a balanced team per the set criteria will do away with the underlying company/management culture. In a work environment where the subordinates are not encouraged to speak up or voice their opinions, or if voiced, if these are never considered, there will be no creativity or diverse customer focused solutions, as the people who would have come up with these are stifled, irrespective of their demographic.
A company with a culture that promotes open communication and values all employee inputs, with a clear, transparent and open line of communication, will often do better than one that is just trying to fill in the blank spots in the diversity map, with a culture where only the big guns make suggestions and decisions.
For the most part, all that companies need are people who can get the job done efficiently and effectively. Perhaps recruitment teams should have blind auditions/interviews, and let the best candidate win based on applicants’ capabilities and competencies. Should an issue arise that pertains to a certain group that’s not represented by the company, then a specialist in that area can be called upon, or market surveys can be done to make sure targeted customers are reached effectively.
Having one or a couple of extra gender, colored person, army veteran, etc. won’t necessarily mean that they are representative of the larger group in the stereotypical sense that most of these recruitment drives take place.
Oftentimes, diversity is rarely the problem. If companies have competent staff that get work done, that should suffice. Hiring someone to fill a branding gap, without them really being given the opportunity to make the difference that they were brought in for, is simply a waste of company resources and needless frustration for the targeted employees.
Perhaps groups that feel discriminated against and underutilized should take this as inspiration to start their own companies. These ought to be able to value them in their true and optimal capacities, instead of being pawns and settling in a pit of endless bitterness and inequality.