In episode 46 of Talent & Growth we were joined by Asif Sadiq MBE, Senior Vice President, Head of Equity and Inclusion, Warner Media International. In the episode we covered how to create an inclusive culture in our businesses, the importance of active listening and how businesses can diversify their talent pipeline. 

We’ve picked out some of the critical foundation to help you make sure your business environment is inclusive, you can read them below. Enjoy! 

We’re talking about hiring diverse talent, but presumably before we do that we need to ensure that our business is an inclusive place and people want to stay within it. So for you, what are the critical foundations to getting that element right? 

It is important to hire more underrepresented, diverse talent into organisations. But it’s critical that it doesn’t stop there. We need to view it as a cycle of recruitment, retention and progression. We also need to think about ‘cultural add’ and not just ‘cultural fit’. We want people to bring different perspectives and to have different lived experiences. What we do after day one is the most critical point. Usually we talk a great game, hire diverse talent and say all the right things; show them all the right brochures; we tell them to ‘live your authentic self’ whilst also telling them how we do things here. That piece has to chance.  

We need to create an inclusive working environment that creates a sense of belonging. Employees need to feel that they can bring their true, authentic self, they don’t have to code switch or feel impostor syndrome – all those things that we know don’t help innovation. They have to come in aligned to the group thinking that they can challenge and have the psychological safety to say or give a different opinion. That’s what we need for innovation, creativity and problem solving. We need people to bring different perspectives but it’s really important that the working environments are ready for it.  

Going out and recruiting diverse talent or putting the ads out there is probably the easiest piece. But if you don’t live up to it, you’re worse off. You’ve then over promised and under delivered.  

And if you are looking to diversify that talent pipeline, what should we do or what should businesses be?  

Firstly, we know there is an equity necessarily in processes – so it’s about creating equity. It’s about levelling the playing field and giving everyone that opportunity and access to come through the recruitment process. It’s not about favouritism and tokenism, thinking that a job must be filled by someone of this diversity element and so on. It never has been and never should be. We always aim to hire the best talent but we know for a fact that they systems in place don’t allow the best talent to come through.  

We end up having time constraints around hiring because we need to fill positions quickly. Therefore, we divert to our biases of people we know. So to really identify and bring more talent in we must look deeper, we must create more equity. We need to reconsider the whole process: where we advertise, how we write job descriptions and how we put them together. Does the language we use have a gender bias or are we using words that mean something to all of us? Within the recruitment process, some organisations have psychometric tests and we need to consider how these are assembled. I know for a fact that when I was in the police service, to pass the psychometric test I had to think like a straight, white man of a certain age group in order to pass it. Their ‘good’ was based on the sample groups that they’d used for the test, which may not have matched what I thought was ‘good’.  

Then it’s looking at the hiring managers. I see many companies doing a great job of attracting talent and taking them through the process, yet when it reaches the hiring managers final decision, they hire someone that they are more comfortable with. To truly succeed you must break down the whole process from beginning to end. Look at where the gaps are, truly identify what are the touch points and what are the areas that you must focus on to adapt and drive change?  

If you want more for Asif you can listen to the full episode here. 

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.