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Jon Addison


Head of Talent Solutions, LinkedIn UK

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What you can do about the workplace gender gap


For a long time, many people saw workplace diversity as little more than a box-ticking exercise, or simply a banner for companies to wave. Thankfully, these attitudes are disappearing and now workplace diversity is increasingly being recognised for what it is: crucial for business success.

In recent years, HR departments have made huge and tangible strides when it comes to closing the gender gap in their organisations and, the good news is, we’re starting to see progress.

The number of women in leadership roles has steadily increased since 2008, and women now hold an average of just over 25% of all leadership positions globally. Our data also shows a 35% increase in job titles that include the word ‘diversity’ over the last eight years – an encouraging sign that businesses are committed to investing in the space.

However, this progress doesn’t mean that we can afford to be complacent. At LinkedIn, we work with employers around the world to help them increase their diversity. Based on the feedback we have from those businesses, we’ve put together some tips on how HR teams can continue to boost diversity and close the gender gap:

Set goals

The business case for diversity is simple: companies that have diverse talent build more innovative products, produce better services and secure more revenue.

Employee case studies on your website or social media channels can be incredibly powerful tools for showcasing what it means to work for your organisation.

Setting specific goals and success metrics around diversity will help maintain momentum and unite the company behind a common goal.

For example, do you need to boost the number of women you’re bringing in to interview, or adjust your interview process? Do you need to review your employer branding strategy? What is a reasonable timescale to do this in? The rest of your strategy can then be built around these goals.

Socialising and repeating these goals will help you get the buy-in and resources you need from the rest of the company.

Your employees are your best asset

Employee referrals are one of the best ways to recruit talent, and certain companies even offer specific referral schemes that are aimed at boosting diversity. For example, Accenture offers enhanced bonuses for employees who successfully refer female or minority candidates.

The business case for diversity is simple: companies that have diverse talent build more innovative products, produce better services and secure more revenue.

It’s important not to underestimate the power of referrals. Your own employees are often your company’s biggest champions, and can help you bridge the gap when it comes to reaching candidates who are unsure about opportunities at your organisation, or who wouldn’t normally apply for roles.

Building a diverse employer brand

It’s also worth reviewing your employer branding materials with diversity in mind, especially if you’re struggling to recruit female or minority candidates.

And, when doing this, bear in mind what elements of a job are important for different groups of people. For example, when we surveyed more than 8,000 STEM professionals, we found that women – compared to men – were more likely to be motivated by purpose than money or status.

Women, in general though not universally, are also more likely to care about the human side of the company – such as the culture and employee experience.

In this instance, employee case studies on your website or social media channels can be incredibly powerful tools for showcasing what it means to work for your organisation.

So while companies have made great strides to bridge the gender gap in the workplace, there is still a lot to be done.

By celebrating and learning from businesses’ success so far – and continuing to take active steps to tackle the gender gap – we can help level the playing field, and make 2017 a record year for progress.

3 Responses

  1. Do diverse workplaces do
    Do diverse workplaces do better? Probably – alloys are often stronger.

    The mistake arises when someone looks at a successful company with a diverse workforce, attributes success to the diversity, then attempts to simply purchase the appropriate level of diversity. It’s like engagement – you can’t just go out and buy it.

    Chances are the successful company has grown and changed organically into its diverse status, as people got promoted, moved and hired over time. Trying to shoehorn some twisted corporate idea of ‘diversity’ into the company by selecting specific traits for new hires other than competence at their job is not going to achieve the desired outcome.

    Oh, and could you do it before the end of next quarter, please – we want to start seeing the results on the bottom line straight away.

    I fail to see the issue with a meritocracy.

    Hire your best candidate, whatever their personal attributes, but don’t make those personal attributes part of the reason for the hire. Hiring to match some arbitrary, pre-determined demographic, instead of mapping competences to requirements – that sounds oddly short-sighted to me. If you have two or more equally skilled and capable people, then sure; flip a coin, or pick the one with the firmer handshake, or the nicer smile, because at that point it doesn’t matter.

    I want to know the person next to me is as good as they can be at their job, and as long as that’s the case, I don’t care about anything else.

    Hire the right people – you’ll get diversity for free over time. Hire diverse people, hoping to get the right competences for free – I suspect you’ll get your diversity, but I don’t think it’ll do you that much good.

  2. While no-one would argue
    While no-one would argue against diversity in the workplace, there’s often no air time given to potential issues when trying to introduce a more diverse workforce. These issues include increased levels of tension as people ‘different’ to the majority join organisations (both for existing members and new members), and the possible requirement for more time to communicate effectively across different experiences and potentially different cultures.

    I feel this is a no-go area for discussion – the discourse is always postively framed – and yet, these obstacles are significantly affecting both the potential impact of diverse cultures on organisations, and the push to implement.

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Jon Addison

Head of Talent Solutions, LinkedIn UK

Read more from Jon Addison