As one of the most impactful years we’ve ever known draws to an end, one thing businesses can all agree on is that 2020 has forced change upon us in ways that we couldn’t have possibly imagined. And in many respects, things have changed for the better. The long overdue and imperative shift from viewing diversity as a side agenda, to prioritising it as a core corporate value is a prime example of this positive change.

In the latest White Paper from The Business of Fashion, 8 global experts within the D&I space shared their knowledge and expertise on four crucial areas businesses in every industry need to be assessing and overhauling within their hiring process in order to create a more inclusive recruitment process. We’ve put together a series of blogs that highlight the key takeaways from their report and panel discussion that can help you to work through your own hiring process and route out outdated practises in favour of more forward thinking and inclusive strategies.

Step 1: Start with Your Leadership

Education on identity and intersectionality:

Leaders need to be taking the time to understand their workforce. Whilst broaching the complex subject of identity and intersectionality can be difficult, it is essential for progression and can only be unpacked through education and discussion.

“People want to see themselves represented in their business. Think of the barriers already created for that person – their self-limiting belief that they can get there. By having that representation, you send a signal that you represent your employee base and your consumers”, say Suki Sandhu, Founder and CEO of diversity and inclusion consultancy Involve, and Founder and CEO of Audeliss, an executive research firm dedicated to diversity.

Diversifying your Leadership team:

You should be aiming to represent diversity across all levels of the business – including leadership roles. And so, the first step is start at the top, making educating your leadership team on D&I a priority, as this is where culture is driven and ultimately where change will be driven too. Too often leaders will make assumptions on their employees experiences within the workplace based upon their visible characteristics, but as Michelle P.King, Director of Inclusion at Netflix pointed out, that’s far too simplistic and leaders often get this wrong.

“Disrupt their denial – leaders examining themselves, doing the work to understand inequality and reaching out to employees to understand their lived experiences and what the culture is really like” is where she suggests businesses need to start.

Make D&I a permanent part of the conversation:

Addressing systematic issues in the workplace and matters such as identity can be challenging as a leader, but it’s also incredibly necessary to drive real change. The rise in hiring of Chief Diversity Officers is a clear reflection of the magnitude of this challenge and having an expert within your leadership team who is focused solely on D&I is an effective way of ensuring that disruption is a priority and is starting from the top.

As we touched upon in our Attracting A Diverse Workforce Panel discussion, planning a D&I roadmap for the first time can be an overwhelming process, especially when it comes to thinking about where to start. But as the BoF White Paper reiterates, by starting at the top with the right intentions, you will be able to drive change with the strongest foot forward. 

For a more indepth guide to assessing the incusivity of your recruitment process, be sure to read the White Paper produced by the Business of Fashion here & for further insights, watch the panel discussion here.

>> Read the second step: Attracting Diverse Talent >>