In the construction sector people will frequently tell us how they are looking to diversify their organisations but can’t seem to attract people from minority groups to come forward. Consequently, they often experience frustration which can easily derail the equality agenda. So here are our top five tips to help you, the construction industry, recruit and more importantly retain the best people for your workforce.
- Be fair; if your staff perceive that someone has been employed on the grounds of their minority status alone it can cause people to question the capabilities of that particular member of staff. Therefore it is imperative that any process undertaken is not only robust, but also communicated to your staff. Except in rare circumstances, employing people, on the grounds of their gender, race, age (or any other protected characteristic) alone is not only illegal, but potentially damaging to both the individual and the company.
- Be ready; before you start employing a more diverse range of staff make sure the existing members of staff you have are ready. This doesn’t always mean diversity training – it could be as simple as one-to-ones with line managers and HR explaining the common experiences that individuals might have in the workplace and working out how you would effectively deal with them. Don’t see this as a negative; it’s only risk management, and something that we do all the time around health and safety. You tend to find it’s not incidents of discrimination that cause people to leave companies, but rather the feeling that they are not supported by the organisation. So make sure you put the right things in place.
- Be proactive; you can’t expect diversity to turn up at your door. There is often the belief that the bigger the firm the more likely it is to support an individual, and that’s something that people from diverse backgrounds often want more of. This is not just because of their difference, but also because, unlike the majority of white males, they will be less likely to have fallen into the industry. This makes them much more likely to be ambitious and want to be supported in being the best they can be; obviously this is not true of all, but it is a pretty good rule of thumb. You therefore need to find a way to encourage people in – get your company noticed by them and catch their interest. This can be a long game but sponsoring students, having a presence at fresher’s fairs, sponsoring local sports and interest teams, visiting schools – all of these things can help. Set a plan and a target then measure which activities are most worth the time and investment – focus on those. Remember you are looking for key talent; it’s hard to find and you will have competition to attract it – make sure you do your homework.
- Be aware; Wales recently released a case study on how they attracted more women onto their Sports Board by considering the language used in the application and the places where they chose to advertise. This effort was a major success; so when you write and place your advert remember how your audience needs to hear about your vacancy and where they are most likely to look for it. Unless specifically trained we are more likely to write something that is attractive to ourselves than others. So think differently – ask focus or charity groups for help (we can point you in the direction of some if you’re stuck); remember you want a diverse team to harness difference – it’s not surprising then that you might need to think differently to achieve this.
- Be Persistant; keep all of this up. One-off short-term initiatives will not change the sector or your company. A long-term plan that measures and evaluates the success of what you are doing will. So measure what you are doing against the results you are looking to achieve; just because it’s being done in the name of equality does not guarantee that it will work, and even if it works for someone else that does not mean it will work for you. So, I repeat, measure what you are doing, analyse it and improve upon it.
I know that this might seem like a lot of work – and it can be. The thing is though, as any good diversity work should, it won’t just help you to improve diversity in your company it should help all your staff feels safe and supported.