To attain true inclusion and diversity intercultural awareness is needed, but also, at least as important, less of the abstract and more of the concrete.
Many large Swedish companies are required by law to report on what steps they take to assure diversity within their workforce. Diversity and Inclusion are however on the agenda throughout large parts of the international corporate world.
There are many aspects that need to be scrutinized to assure a higher degree of corporate diversity.
The recruitment process, for instance, demands some extra attention as this is pivotal to the actual access for people of different backgrounds. Usually there are several persons involved in the process, however there is often a selection process where one single individual initially is in charge.
This is a crucial point, as the recruiter will need to fulfill their obligations and feel safe about their selection, to get the approval from the rest of the recruitment team.
If you ask what are the main points that anyone recruiting primarily reviews, you are told that the technical competence and education has to be suitable, that the professional background is relevant. When this is deemed in order, more attention is directed to what is viewed as the most important matter – the social skills, or simply put, someone who fits into the team.
In this phase, the recruiter can very well resort to the human innate ways – by unconsciously choosing someone who is “like them”, reflecting their values and behaviors and acting in ways that they recognize. By doing that they will feel safe about their choice, and make sure the incumbent conforms to the team.
But is that really what a team and an organization want and will prosper from? Is that achieving diversity? If we want to practice inclusion and reap the benefits of different perspectives, the answer is no.
Very often you hear that the gut feeling is important to acknowledge. As the gut feeling is actually connected to our cognitive resources, it can certainly be a good aspect to take into account in several instances, however not across cultures.
At the end of the day, the gut feeling is our collected and acquired experiences, grounded in our own perspective only. It does not help us to understand other’s perspectives, to climb out of our comfort zones and rationally consider other values.
Some basic understanding of cultural awareness and an open mindset, are certainly of essence to a recruiter, or the same pattern will repeat itself, of picking someone who is like ourselves.
We talk about inclusion and diversity, but words alone will not change much, it has to be more concrete than just words and intentions. We have to lead by, and be led by example, and perhaps even put certain things in writing as policies. Only then can we obtain a flexible corporate culture.
To achieve this the recruiter cannot be left on his or her own. He or she needs to act within an allowing company culture, so that the perhaps less expected candidate will be received with an open mindset by the rest of the recruiting team as well as of their future colleagues and team members.