Does Diversity Recruiting Provide an Unfair Advantage to Certain Candidates?

Myths about Diversity Recruiting:

1.    Diversity recruiting means lower quality candidates

2.    Diversity recruiting pools are easier to land jobs in

3.    Diversity recruiting provides an unfair advantage to candidates

4.    Diversity recruiting is unnecessary

5.    Diversity in the workforce is not a competitive advantage

Despite being an LGBTQ+ woman in business, there was always a voice in the back of my head that told me not to apply through diversity recruiting postings. I think in part there was a fear of judgement after hearing the complaints of “unfairness” from some of my peers, but mostly I just didn’t want to be selected because I was LGBTQ+ or because I was a woman. I wanted to be selected because I was the best. I truly started believing that diversity recruiting was putting me at an advantage, instead of purely levelling the playing field. For these reasons, I chose not to recruit through an avenue created for students just like me.

I attended the Out for Undergraduate Business Conference in September this year, hosted and sponsored by the Goldman Sachs headquarters in New York. The intention of the conference is to provide LGBTQ+ students in business access to LGBTQ+ mentors and to educate them on how to navigate the workforce as an LGBTQ+ professional. In a private conversation with one of my mentors I voiced my concerns about diversity recruiting and my discomfort in using it to land a job. She proceeded to break down every single one of the above myths as follows:

1 & 2: Diversity recruiting means lower quality candidates & Diversity recruiting pools are easier to land jobs in (primary research)

From the mentor’s experience in screening applicants, they informed me that the diversity recruiting pools are more competitive. In their experience, these candidates on average have higher GPA’s and more impressive extra-curricular activities. Many of these students are heavily involved in clubs or other programs at their school intended to enhance student experience.

3: Diversity recruiting provides an unfair advantage to candidates (primary research)

When you walk into an interview and are asked about your biggest strength, or a time you overcame great adversity, or what you’re passionate about, what’s the first thing that crosses your mind? 

For some students, these moments of adversity can relate to the coming out process, being from a lower income family, or the struggles of being a woman in a male dominated situation. Recruiting through diversity avenues allows candidates to speak about their attributes without fear of prejudice or bias. As a result, diversity recruiting is levelling the playing field and affording diverse students the same opportunity as other candidates and offering the chance to bring their whole self to the interview

4: Diversity recruiting is unnecessary 

There are many implicit biases that we have as individuals, which makes the recruiting process less based on meritocracy and more based on luck (3). Some of the biases that have a large influence on diverse candidates who recruit through the standard pool include: 

  • Stereotyping Bias – Forming an opinion of someone based on gender, religion, race, appearance, or any other type of characteristic. (3)

  • “Similar to Me” Effect – Thinking highly of someone who has a similar mindset or personality to the interviewer.

It is necessary to have a diverse recruiting and interviewing pool to get the most out of every single candidate and not allow personal biases to skew a candidate’s performance. Diversity recruiting allows for this to happen. 

5: Diversity in the workforce is not a competitive advantage

Minorities are incredibly under-represented in the professional workforce, which can be a hinderance for companies trying to connect with all types of consumers (2). Having people in the workforce who can directly relate to the target consumer is an invaluable experience that allows companies to better perform. This makes diverse candidates a critical aspect of any consumer-focused company.

Further, there are numerous research studies that have been conducted that report diversity as a relational concept. It requires different types of people to engage with one another to solve a problem. Diverse teams, on average, perform better than homogenous teams (2). Therefore, diversity within the workforce is critical for the success of all companies. (2), (3), (4)

Final Note:

It is important to note that powerful companies do not waste money or training on candidates just for the sake of being “diverse” because it does not make any financial sense. At the end of the day, these companies want to make money, and if they truly didn’t think a candidate could cut it, they would not be hired.

This mentorship conversation provided me with a much-needed wake-up call, and I hope that it can shed some light on the issue for other students. If you are a diverse candidate, please do not be afraid to recruit through diversity recruiting. You have the right to feel safe and comfortable in interviews, and to bring your entire self to work. If you are not using diversity recruiting, please support your colleagues who are using this avenue to recruit. The most important thing you will receive from attending this school is the network, so it is imperative that we create as many positive connections as we can with one another. 

The below links in addition to primary research provide all the information used in the creation of this post. 

1.    https://www.groupmgmt.com/blog/post/2016/04/28/Seven-Common-Interview-Biases.aspx

2.    https://www.talentinnovation.org/publication.cfm?publication=1400

3.    https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/why-diversity-matters

4.    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/shattering-great-diversity-recruiting-myth-vs-quality-bearse-esqueda/

5.    https://medium.com/awaken-blog/if-your-boss-is-still-asking-about-the-business-case-for-diversity-your-company-might-be-in-186e02c26193

By: Leah Gale

Why do we care about diversity?

Nowadays, diversity can be a bit of a buzz-word. Companies across the country say they are committed to “increasing diversity,” but what does that mean - and why is it important?

Workforce diversity refers to the composition of the varying characteristics of employees, including, but not limited to, religious and political beliefs, gender identity/expression, ethnicity, education, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation and geographic location. However, the majority of discussion surrounding workplace diversity at present focuses on racial and gender diversity.

Anecdotal evidence tells us that diversity is helpful in team environments — an assortment of perspectives from a variety of backgrounds can help groups consider outcomes and alternatives they might not have considered from the outset of a project.

But, the greater question is, what does diversity look like, and what are the quantitative impacts of it?

Taylor Cox Jr. is a leading expert on cultural diversity, and identified six dimensions of a multicultural organization:

1. Full structural integration is achieved when all demographic groups are adequately represented within various organizational levels, functions, and work groups.
2. Integration in informal networks occurs when all organizational members have equal access to and are included in social and informal networking activities.
3. Low cultural bias is evident in organizations where steps are taken to identify and eliminate discrimination and prejudice in the workplace.
4. Intergroup cohesion is observed when the organization achieves an optimal level of conflict involving work tasks, while minimizing conflict due to social identity group differences, such as race and gender.
5. Acculturation refers to the method by which cultural differences are resolved in organizations. Cox argues that acculturation should involve a two-way process in which minority and majority group members have some influence on organizational norms and values and minority group members are not expected to assimilate or shed their identity when coming to work.
6. Finally, Cox suggests that a multicultural organization may be characterized by the extent to which organizational identification occurs for all employees.

By this point, we understand what diversity is. But, what’s the value of diversity? I’ve taken some of the studies I found the most interesting and summarized them below:

A study conducted by Cedric Herring at the University of Illinois at Chicago, concluded that “racial diversity is associated with increased sales revenue, more customers, greater market share, and greater relative profits.” In addition, the report determined that “gender diversity is associated with increased sales revenue, more customers, and greater relative profits.” His work contrasted companies with the highest and lowest levels of racial diversity, realizing that companies with the highest levels of racial diversity had an average of 15 times higher sales revenue than those with the lowest levels. (http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-03/asa-rld033009.php)

Credit Suisse’s Research Institute released a report in 2016 looking at female board membership and its reflection on investment returns. Over a 6 year period, looking at large cap ($10b+) stocks, CS researchers revealed firms with women board members outperformed those with purely men by 26 percent. Likewise, small-to-mid cap stocks where women served as board members outperformed their all-male peers by 17 percent. (https://www.credit-suisse.com/corporate/en/articles/news-and-expertise/higher-returns-with-women-in-decision-making-positions-201610.html)

Finally, McKinsey’s Diversity and Financial Performance report identified that companies with the most ethnically/culturally diverse boards worldwide are 43% more likely to experience higher profits. (https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/business%20functions/organization/our%20insights/delivering%20through%20diversity/delivering-through-diversity_full-report.ashx)

Clearly, diversity matters. The last question is, how can we measure and promote it in organizations?

The Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion has created a method of measuring the “Return on Investment of Diversity and Inclusion” (https://ccdi.ca/media/1071/ccdi-report-what-gets-measured-gets-done.pdf). Some of the key findings from the report detail the fact that it is not simply enough to have a Diversity & Inclusion program; rather, in order for diversity to positively impact an organization, there need to be systematic incentives in place to demonstrate impact that are tied to strategic goals.

Check out the data from our Diversity survey that was conducted this semester to understand what diversity looks like at Ivey, located in HBA1 classrooms!

By: Grant McNaughton

Innovation for All

Innovation for All

How can we ensure that no one is left behind as emerging technologies are implemented into the workforce at an increasingly rapid pace?  

We have all heard of artificial intelligence, machine learning or neural networks at some point over the last couple of years, however, these are more than just futuristic buzz words. As these technologies become more advanced, an increasing number of workplaces are integrating them into daily operations to eliminate simple, repetitive tasks. The impact of this shift, coupled with a rapidly changing global workplace could potentially create an even greater skills gap, resulting in significant social inequalities if adjustments are not made now to protect the economic viability of our communities. 

Over 100 artificial intelligence experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have predicted that within the next 15 years, half of the trucks on the road will be able to drive themselves and within 25 years robots will be able to complete most of the management tasks at Fortune 500 companies.[1] Although it is difficult to accurately predict the impact of these new technologies, it is clear that the rate of change is increasing faster than ever and the repercussions will be felt across a wider range of industries and at a deeper level than initially expected. 

As occupations continue to be augmented by technology. or completely removed, the skills needed to remain employable will continually involve. Those facing the most pressing risk from the adoption of these technologies are workers that currently hold roles that can be easily automated.

For employees that don’t have the ability to benefit from additional formal schooling, skills retraining or switching industries, the impact of automation could be devastating and potentially widen both the gender and skill gap that is already a complex challenge consuming today’s leaders.[2] Due to the economic diversity of Canada, there will also likely be an uneven distribution of these risks across the diverse regions of the country. Currently, 46% of “work activities in Canada have the potential to be automated across all industries” which is the equivalent of 7.7 million jobs.[3]

Despite the (justified) anxiety surrounding automation of the workplace, there is still time to prepare. Many experts in the field, such as Krista Jones from MaRS Discovery District, are calling for changes in policies to prepare for this drastic shift. Beyond providing basic minimum income, a more reactive approach, Jones states that “we need policies that promote life-long learning and more incentives for businesses to retrain staff rather than hiring new employees”.[4]  Institutions need to start shaping the mindsetsof current and future leaders so as to promote and encourage lifelong learning and the ability to adapt, as opposed to encouraging the need for safety and stability. 

This continual, and inevitable, encroachment of new technology into the global workplace must not be looked at as a threat, but be welcomed and embraced as a tremendous opportunity. Government, business, institutional and community leaders must work together to develop a strategy that will insure that full advantage can be taken from these new technologies while protecting the workforce.

By: Nicole Plant 


Sources:

[1]Dreyfuss, Emily. "Hate to Break It to Steve Mnuchin, But AI's Already Taking Jobs." Wired. June 03, 2017. Accessed September 20, 2018. https://www.wired.com/2017/03/hate-break-steve-mnuchin-ais-already-taking-jobs/.

[2]Schwab, Klaus, and Richard Samans. "The Future of Jobs." World Economic Forum.

[3]Lamb, Craig, and Matthew Lo. "Automation Across the Nation: Understanding the Potential Impacts of Technological Trends across Canada." Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, June 8, 17.

[4]Jones, Krista. Preparing Adult Workers for the Artificial Intelligence Revolution. April 7, 17.