How to Promote Diversity and Inclusion throughout the Entire Talent Lifecycle

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By now we know the benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workforce, and the majority of companies are striving to create a working environment where everybody can succeed. The pool of talent is getting smaller and smaller, and if you want to ensure your business is attracting and hiring the best, then you need to ensure you’re reaching all talent and that biases don’t exist in your recruitment processes.   

Creating this ‘ideal’ scenario is a shared challenge and not specific to the tech industry. To make improvements as a society, businesses need to work together and share successes and failures, ideas, innovation, and best practice – which is exactly why I am writing this article.  

To ensure that we remained focused and delivered on our objectives, we were selective with our priorities. Rather than trying to position our offering to all underrepresented groups at once, we’ve made improvements to specific recruitment and onboarding processes, helping to build diverse teams and foster inclusion and belonging. My primary focus has been on attracting, hiring, and retaining more women (or those who identify as a woman) to CGI, and positioning our company as an employer of choice for Women in Tech.   

Below is a rundown of the initiatives and activities we have introduced to build a more diverse and inclusive talent pipeline at CGI Australia.

1. Conducting research

Firstly, we rolled out anonymous surveys to our female employees to gather data on CGI’s current state. This included questions on culture, benefits, and external market position. Following the survey, we also conducted small focus groups to follow up on key themes from the survey results. The data collected was used to produce our project roadmap and helped with the messaging for our talent branding initiatives.

To complement this data, we also reviewed information from external sources such as Seek, LinkedIn, Work180, and various reports from professional bodies.  

2. Reviewing current content

The next step was to review our local Australian content including access to information, imagery, and messaging. Following the review and as part of a wider talent rebrand, we have during phase one introduced a dedicated diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) careers page, updated our imagery, and through the use of a gender decoder, ensured all copy – from job adverts to our recruitment brochure – is gender-neutral.

3. Ramping up content marketing

Once our local content was up to date, we considerably increased our content marketing efforts to amplify our brand and drive more traffic to our new careers page. We introduced an employee advocacy program and partnered with The Martec to produce local content, written by our local employees. 

Topics covered have included tips for returning to work, making part-time work for you, tips for women starting a career in STEM, and fostering DE&I and respect. The articles have been published on social media channels, housed on our new ‘Member Insights’ careers page, and repurposed throughout the recruitment process. 

4. Selecting the right partners

A key to our success was selecting the right external partners. One of our biggest wins has been getting endorsed by Work180 as a great workplace for women. In 2021, only 50% of companies that applied met the Work180 endorsement standards, but if you’re not quite there yet, Work180 will show you where you’re missing the mark to help you improve.  

Our package with Work180 includes quarterly social media campaigns and we also participated in the 2020 Virtual Tech Careers Fair. However, the key benefit of this partnership has been the opportunity for continuous improvement. We constantly receive feedback from Work180 on how we can improve our processes, benefits, and policies to improve inclusiveness and equity in the workplace. 

5. Increasing availability of part-time roles & job-sharing

One of the biggest barriers for women in the workforce is the availability of part-time work. A quick search on Seek brings up over 2,900 job opportunities for developers in Australia. Change your search to a part-time developer role and you get just 11! 

Although we had plenty of part-time workers in the business, we never really thought about whether new roles could be advertised as part-time. By asking the question, “Can this role be done part-time or job shared?” we have opened up a whole new talent pool for some of our roles. 

6. Improving our recruitment processes

To underpin our talent attraction efforts, we have also conducted a full review of our recruitment process and introduced several key changes:

  • Preparing interview questions in advance to ensure all candidates are asked the same set of questions and are scored objectively on the relevant selection criteria only.
  • Ensuring that wherever possible, every interview has at least two interviewers.
  • Following the interview, eliciting feedback from each interviewer independently, prior to an interview panel discussion, to avoid conformity bias.
  • Ensuring every interviewer has completed unconscious bias training.
  • Coaching our interviewers on how to interview different candidate types. After all, that it’s the interviewer’s role to create an environment for the candidate to shine.

The results so far?

Although our current Recruitment System is somewhat limited in terms of tracking DE&I data (another 2022 project on the cards), I can report an increase in female hires in technology roles from FY20 20% to 26% FY21. We have also seen an increase in our Work180 ranking from 121 to 58 on the endorsed employer leaderboard.  

Beyond recruitment…

I’m a strong believer that there’s no point in focusing on talent attraction and brand if you can’t back this up when a candidate becomes an employee. Employee experience and employer branding run from hire to retire, so it’s important to look at every touchpoint with a diversity lens.

For example, a big project for us at CGI was to review all of our employee salaries and ensure we didn’t have any disparities between men and women doing the same role. We also reviewed key policies such as our paid parental leave. Not only did we increase the duration of paid leave but we also ensured this policy was gender-neutral, reinforcing equality at home as well as in the workplace.

One of our key business objectives for 2022 is to prioritise diversity, equity and inclusion, allowing members to bring their whole selves to work. This message comes all the way from the top. To ensure the commitment lands locally, we have an Australia DE&I Council that takes ownership of monthly initiatives to ensure a sense of belonging in the business. 

Together, we get involved in book reviews, panel discussions, newsletters and information-sharing – but my favourite event is for Harmony Week, where everyone brings a dish from their heritage to share over lunch in the office. COVID has prevented this from happening for the last few years, so we took the event online and produced a digital cookbook with all of our favourite recipes and stories. This created a real sense of inclusion and belonging for all our members.

Looking forward, I’m eager to see what the future holds. Improving processes to foster diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging is never finished. There’s always more to do and it’s the journey of continuous improvement that makes my role so exciting. 

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