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It’s Time for Businesses To Deal With Diversity

Doing The Right Thing Also Makes Sound Business Sense

You’d think a city run by a woman would score pretty high when it comes to gender equality. However, although Carrie Lam took up the role of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive in 2017, a survey commissioned by the online recruitment specialist jobsDB suggests otherwise.

The jobsDB 2018 Gender Equality report, showed that nearly a quarter of women (24%), compared with 15% of men, felt discriminated against in their workplace. The highest levels of discrimination (29%) were reported in one of the most important drivers of Hong Kong’s economy – the banking / financial services / securities / stockbroking sector.

 

Diversity And Inclusiveness Is The Answer To Disruption

Discrimination of any kind is abhorrent. So, I agree entirely with jobsDB’s conclusion that more effort is required to put the right policies and practices in place to promote gender equality in the workplace.

Over and above the obvious moral issues, there are also sound business reasons for companies to deal with diversity issues in a fair and equitable fashion. A recent report, the recruitment experts Hays note that having a diverse and inclusive (D&I) workforce helps organisations successfully leverage the continuous disruption we are seeing across almost every sector.

Hays defines D&I as having more women rising through the ranks and employing managers and employees of all ages and ethnicity, religions, cultures and even life experiences. Their thinking is that it not only promotes new ways of thinking, but is also more representative of the increasingly global customer base for many Hong Kong products and services.

Our own customers have told us they recognise that future business success hinges on the ability to utilise the full potential of all employees from all backgrounds. The world economy has become far more diverse and companies that reflect the diversity of their customer base outperform those that don’t.

We are also in the midst of a worldwide shortage of skilled talent. Companies that fail to take full advantage of the skills of people from all walks of life will struggle to find the employees needed to run their businesses.

 

Bias Isn’t Always Intentional Or Obvious

However, the truth is that companies have been struggling to increase workforce diversity for decades. Every year reports are released that basically tell us that the pay, staffing, and promotion gaps that existed last year are still here. While this data is useful for telling us we have a problem, it hasn’t enabled us to come up with a solution.

One reason it is so hard to address workforce inequity is that much of it arises from subtle and often unconscious biases occurring throughout the employee lifecycle. It starts with hidden biases in job postings that influence who applies for a position. And it continues in the decisions that determine who gets hired, how employees are managed and developed, how they are rewarded and supported, and who gets promoted and retained.
Furthermore, biases at one step can impact other steps. For example, biases affecting how employees are managed creates biases in who applies to begin with, and vice-versa.

Because of the complex nature of inequity, it is not sufficient to just focus on a single HR process such as training managers or changing staffing methods. Issues of inequity can only be fully addressed using a comprehensive approach. However, until recently, organisations have lacked the tools needed to address such a complex issue.

 

Tackling the Entire Employee Lifecycle

I said until recently. SAP SuccessFactors has developed a full suite of HCM tools that allow our customers to do exactly that – tackle equity problems across the entire employee lifecycle.

Let’s start at the beginning with Job Analyzer. Embedded within the SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting Management solution, it helps organisations craft effective, competitive job descriptions and eliminate unconscious bias in their recruiting.

 

In simple terms, Job Analyzer takes the guesswork out of recruitment. And it supports corporate talent objectives by using SAP Leonardo machine learning algorithms to predict and flag language that reflects gender bias during the recruitment process. In practice, that means helping managers and recruiters identify and eliminate gender-biased language from job descriptions.

The result is an expanded, and much richer applicant pool, which helps ensure that businesses reach the most qualified candidates for every position. Using external data, hiring managers can even conduct analysis in key areas such as salary ranges to ensure market competitiveness, which is especially important when filling positions where talent is in short supply.

 

Ongoing Challenges

That’s not the end of the diversity story. Other SAP SuccessFactors capabilities include:

  • Calibration: SAP SuccessFactors Performance & Goals solution includes photoless calibration and calibration analysis by diversity rules, such as in-app nine-box descriptors, which help ensure consistent, equitable standards in evaluating performance, potential and promotion eligibility.
  • Mentoring: Functionality within the SAP SuccessFactors Succession & Development solution enables HR to match mentors and mentees based on skills and competencies to help ensure mentoring is equitable and inclusive.
  • Workforce analytics: Data analysis capabilities within the SAP SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics solution enables businesses to highlight areas where diversity and inclusion targets are not being met, to visualise and forecast diversity trends in their organisation, and give executives greater insight into their diversity and inclusion efforts.

 

Differences Make All The Difference

Many businesses continue to have unintended blind spots when it comes to their hiring practices. That is not only bad news for qualified candidates, it’s terrible for businesses, because it is stopping them from finding the best talent and fulfilling their own potential.

SAP is playing its part, offering digital innovations to help HR teams uncover new insights and support diversity and inclusiveness. And, with any luck, in a few years the reports from jobsDB and Hays will tell a different story.

Because we are all made stronger by the combination of culture, race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, physical or mental ability, and work-life situations.

Read the IDC InfoBrief sponsored by SAP, “The HR Role in Best-Run Midsize Companies: Using Intelligent Technologies to Manage the Total Workforce, for insights into how HR can play a key role by investing in people, technology, and processes now: https://www.sap.com/hk/cmp/dg/best-run-hr-midsize-company/index.html

 

 

 

 

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