Company-mandated policies seen as least effective in addressing gender diversity.
Mix of initiatives required.
A survey by Hays in Australia suggests that company-mandated policies are the least effective method of improving gender diversity in leadership positions and across a workforce. Released ahead of International Women’s Day on Sunday 8th March, the survey found only 16 per cent of 408 Australians polled said company-mandated policies alone lead to real gender diversity progress. Overall, 28 per cent said individual actions, such as challenging stereotypes or calling out bias, are more effective. However, the majority of those surveyed – 56 per cent – said it takes both for genuine gender diversity progress to be made.
“It’s like trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle with half the pieces missing,” said Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays, in response to the findings. “To make real gender diversity progress, you need every piece of the puzzle put in its correct place. For instance, you need to start with an organisational culture that supports and celebrates diversity and inclusion and where people feel they can call out bias and challenge stereotypes without fear of retribution. Rather than looking the other way, people need to know they can safely speak up when they see unconscious bias in the workplace.
“Added to this, you need leaders who understand and champion the business benefits of diversity and inclusion and celebrate any D&I successes,” he said. “Leadership training should address any lack of diversity in a particular area and equal opportunities for progression for all must be available. You need diverse role models within the organisation so women – and employees from all underrepresented groups – see that leadership positions and career advancement is accessible.
“When they recruit, organisations must source talent from the widest pool, aim to mitigate bias throughout the talent selection process and diversify their interview panels.
“Organisations can also consider the use of shortlist or workforce targets to ensure that hiring managers consider a diverse shortlist of candidates for each job vacancy,” added Deligiannis. “While the use of targets is divisive and can be viewed as a tokenistic measure, so long as they are supported by a foundation of diversity and inclusion values, and are measured and tracked effectively, they can help to deliver sustainable change.”