Hiring staff? This is how you get more diversity in the workplace

Research proves that inclusive organisations make more profit. A clear diversity and inclusion policy also helps you with finding staff. After all, a broad social network helps with finding new personnel quicker. Saniye Çelik, professor of Diversity at the University of Applied Sciences Leiden, explains the first steps you can take towards more diversity and inclusion in your company.

McKinsey research has shown that businesses that practice inclusivity turn larger profits. They succeed better in several areas. Businesses with a more diverse personnel file have a higher level of flexibility and productivity. They know their customers better, have fewer staff shortages, and have a more positive image. We explain the advantages below.

Higher flexibility and productivity

In teams of people with various backgrounds, it is easier to find creative solutions to issues faster. This is because every team member brings in different experiences and a unique view.

Better understanding of the customer

A diverse team is a better reflection of society. Employees are more aware of various customers’ needs and wishes. This makes the team better prepared to respond to what is going on in society.

Fewer staff shortages

Diversity in your team leads to broader social networks, which offer more and faster access to potential new, diverse employees.

A more positive image

Diversity and inclusion are part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR, or in Dutch: ‘Maatschappelijk Verantwoord Ondernemen’). Show that you have a diverse hiring policy. That will have a positive effect on the image of your business. You will get more customers, and more people willing to work for you.

Equality laws

In the Netherlands, there are several laws for diversity and inclusion in the workplace. These include:

  • Treat and reward all employees equally.
  • Also ensure equal treatment during job applications. For example, during a job interview, you should only ask questions that are necessary for the job (in Dutch). Questions about private life, such as about someone's family or desire to have children, should not be included.
  • The Participation Act makes it easier for people with an illness or disability to get a job. As an employer, you have an active role (in Dutch) in this. For example, you can provide workplace adjustments so that someone with an illness or disability can continue to work for you. You can get financial support from the government for this.
  • Do you have more than 25 employees? Then you are obliged to hire people with a disability according to the Jobs Agreement (in Dutch).
  • Since January 2022, large companies are obliged to hire more women in top jobs, according to the women's quota.

Diversity in the workplace

Diversity in your business brings many advantages, but it will not work without inclusivity.  Diversity is about the differences between people. Inclusion is about how we handle those differences.

Saniye Çelik researches diversity and inclusivity in organisations. She explains: “When there is diversity, but not everyone accepts the differences, it leads to more problems.” To prevent this, managers and executives have to take the first steps.

Step 1: assess your organisation

If you are going to address diversity and inclusion, raising awareness is the first step. You can assess how inclusive you are by paying attention to the points listed below.

What do your social networks look like?

Take a look at the contacts in your phone. How many of them have a different ethnic or cultural background than you? And what about your employees? How different are they? As Çelik says: “This offers you an insight into the social networks you work in. You can also see the opportunities you are missing. It is smart for entrepreneurs to actively search for contact with customers and entrepreneurs from other cultures. This allows you to attract new customers. The entrepreneur of the future is cross-cultural.”

How diverse is your staff?

Take a look at what visible and invisible differences there are between your staff members. Visible differences include skin colour, gender, age, or a visible disability. Invisible differences include religion, culture, norms, values, and character traits. When your employees are a mix of all these differences, you have a diverse team or workforce.

Everyone must be on board to make diversity and inclusion a success.

How inclusive is your workplace?

Inclusion is about how we deal with this mix of differences together. About who can and cannot participate in something. And who gets to participate in decisions about what. So, inclusion says something about how people behave towards each other.

If you want your company to become more inclusive, take a close look at the different layers of your company. How accessible is your office to people in wheelchairs? How much understanding do you show for your employees’ personal situations? How many employees from different ethnocultural backgrounds influence decision-making within your company? A few small changes can already help create a different mindset.

Do the Inclusion Scan

Çelik developed the Inclusion Scan. This is a tool to measure how inclusive employees and managers think, feel, and act. You can take the Inclusion Scan as a team or with the entire organisation. You discuss the results together.

Step 2: hire diversely

A second step towards diversity and inclusion in your business is looking at your current selection and hiring processes. Managers and directors tend to hire people who look like them. This happens unconsciously, which means applicants are excluded unintentionally.

Three tips for hiring staff diversely

  1. If you already have a diverse workforce, use your employees' networks to find and hire new staff.
  2. Train your managers and directors to select and hire diversely. The expert report document ‘Diversity in recruitment and selection’ issued by SER, the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands, gives tips for hiring staff diversely. From drafting the job opening text to selecting the candidates.
  3. Let a specialised recruitment agency do the preselection for you, so that the suggested candidates have different backgrounds and qualities.
  4. Read more tips about this in the online brochure Handbook for SMEs: Inclusive recruitment & selection (in Dutch, pdf).

Çelik concludes: “It is important to involve everyone in your organisation in your diversity policy. Don’t just target the minority, go for the majority. Everyone must be on board to make diversity and inclusion a success. This way, you create a safe work environment where everyone works together effectively.”

Inclusive recruitment through the Employer Service Point

Do you want to practice inclusive recruitment? The Employer Service Point ('Werkgeversservicepunt’, WSP) will help you do so. The WSP is an alliance of UWV, municipalities, and social workplace companies in the labour market region. Find an employer service point near you (in Dutch).