It is widely recognised that a healthier balance of gender, race and ethnicity at work produces better outcomes for organisations.

The past few years have been effective in showing us the possibilities of a redesigned workplace model, says Andrea Derler.

Let’s take the pandemic as an example. By making remote working a much bigger – and longer-term – reality, it unlocked employment opportunities for people living with disabilities who were once excluded without this possibility. 

However, despite decades’ worth of research papers and advice, businesses still have a long way to go. While organisations may be trying to fill their ranks with people from different backgrounds, including hiring more women and people living with disabilities, it does not mean they have overcome widespread biases. This makes one thing clear, that collectively, we must do better.  

Doing better, together 

As employees continue to examine ways to do better, from hiring Diversity and Inclusion Officers to running sessions that identify some of the biggest diversity hurdles, we need to ensure that DEI strategies are designed to take into account those just starting out in their careers. This is critical if we’re to offer equal opportunities to all.   

Organisations should be held accountable for their efforts to support change at all levels of the business, and what better place to start than the entry level. In turn, this will help to future proof a diverse workforce with the strength of diversity.  

Looking beyond what is right 

Beyond following a personal moral compass, companies are taking action to support workplace diversity because there is a clear business case for doing so. 

There are a plethora of studies that point to similar conclusions, including a comprehensive review of more than 1,000 companies spread across 15 countries by McKinsey 

This study shows compelling findings relating to both gender, ethnic and cultural diversity to business success. For example, businesses in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. Strikingly, McKinsey concludes that a 48 percent performance differential separates the most from the least gender-diverse companies.  

In terms of ethnic and cultural diversity, top-quartile companies outperformed their least diverse counterparts by more than a third.  

Giving the future workforce the superpower of diversity  

The societal and performance benefits generated by diverse workforces are clear, and it is certainly promising to see organisations of all kinds working towards greater equity and inclusion in their workplaces.  

Nonetheless, we must work to ensure that DEI strategies are designed to consider those just beginning their career journeys and offer equal opportunities to all.   

This means paying serious attention to the talent acquisition process – in particular, the development of fact-based strategies to eliminate diversity bias and improve diversity hiring within the funnel.  

National Apprenticeship Week is another important milestone in our corporate calendars. Now in its 16th iteration, the series of events brings together businesses and apprentices across the UK to shine a light on the positive impact that apprenticeships make to individuals, businesses and the wider economy.  

We’re a big believer in apprenticeships, and it is here where companies should begin improving their diversity hiring strategies.  

Ask, align and act with data 

There are various methods and approaches that can be adopted, yet leveraging the power of data and people analytics is key.  

Firstly, employers should identify the source of their diversity gaps. Analytics can offer insight into the makeup of your workforce and examine headcount through key diversity metrics such as age, gender, race, and more. Such analysis could, for example, reveal that your organisation needs a greater number of female management apprentices.   

Analytics can also support in ensuring ongoing diversity in the hiring process keeping track of diversity ratios. This is invaluable in situations where recruiters are pressured to schedule quick appointments and may forget to add diversity into the mix – here, the use of data analytics will flag situations where there is a regression in diverse applications.  

Another step companies can take is to strategically match interviewers to candidates. For instance, try matching male interviewers to male apprentice candidates – vice versa – and see whether it improves your hiring rates.  

Data analytics can support in tracking the progress of such methods and may justify rolling out such an approach for all types of roles in your organisation. This should be used as a part of a comprehensive approach to diversity in recruitment. 

By using such forms of purposeful data throughout every stage of the process – from candidate, to applicant, to new hire – organisations will be in a winning position to enjoy the benefits of a well-vetted, diversified entry-level workforce.  


Andrea Derler is Principal, Researcher and Customer Value at Visier.