Diversity Targets – just a cursory solution?


By Pooja Khajuria, Consultant


Despite a continued drive to make boardrooms more representative, the current executive recruitment processes largely depend on extensive personal networks, specialised industry knowledge and building relationships. A process that is outdated and often inaccessible to people representing diverse marginalised groups.

A recent study conducted by Green Park consultancy found there are fewer black people at the top of FTSE 100 than before, despite long-standing diversity targets. For the first time in 6 years, there are no black chairpersons, chief executives, or finance chiefs. Only 2.6% of people on UK tech boards are ethnic minorities.

It is quite evident that there is a need for increased diversity in the leadership across industries and sectors. But despite higher recognition of the value of diversity, there appears to be no progress at the board level, where most decisions are made.

A band-aid solution for this persistent problem is diversity targets – a solution that does little to address the more complex underlying issues of driving an inclusive workplace culture.

For an organisation to truly build and leverage the strength of a diverse board, the process for executive hiring needs to be fairer and more accessible for candidates. The focus should be on making incremental changes to make the recruitment equitable and democratising the opportunity by encouraging those from underprivileged backgrounds to become more aware and confident about their skills. The recruitment teams and the hiring managers need to be educated on – inclusive recruitment practices, recognising talent from backgrounds that they may not be accustomed to and modifying recruitment policies and processes.

The process should not end there, once an individual is hired it is important to ensure that they feel accepted and included in reality. To obtain the best performance out of the new hire and the team, everyone needs to be educated to make conscious efforts to create a mutually respectful atmosphere and welcome any changes.

This approach to recruitment will enable employers to talk transparently about diversity and inclusion in the recruitment process and build an organically diverse organisation without having to resort to stale figures on the number of people from a certain place, gender, race, or other demographics.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that diversity targets are bad, their purpose may be genuine and well-intentioned, but they must be used with caution. While metrics are a powerful tool to build higher self-awareness and a steady pressure towards increasing equity across the organisation, they can’t be the end solution. To achieve workplace equity, an organisation needs to continuously make small changes that collectively add up to valuable staffing decisions and major organisational outcomes.

What do you think about diversity targets and applied recruitment processes? How would you change them to make them more equitable?



To find out more about how we can help you in creating inclusive recruiting practices, please check out this page or reach out to us at info@indiversecompany.com.


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