How can we improve structural inclusivity?
Beyond some of the challenges created by the move to remote and hybrid working, there are a number of other challenges and opportunities that organisations could embrace to achieve sustained positive changes in inclusivity.
Firstly, boroughs should ensure they are doing all they can in terms of inclusive recruitment, which is a significant hurdle to creating diverse organisations. This includes:
- Ethical recruitment platforms. LOTI encourages boroughs to use recruitment platforms that are designed to reduce the impact of human biases (e.g. Applied, which LOTI uses and would endorse). It should be noted that AI and data-driven recruitment can help but is not necessarily free of biases as it might be hardwired into its design so this alone is not enough.
- Diverse talent pool. To encourage a more diverse talent pool to apply for jobs, organisations should run their job descriptions (JDs) through an online tool that ensures the use of gender neutral language (e.g. Gender Decoder, The Totaljobs Gender Bias Decoder or Applied’s Job Description Tool). They should also list their opportunities in places that share jobs for underrepresented groups, such as Adas List, Evenbreak, Proud Employers and UK Black Tech.
- Flexibility for neurodiverse employees. Organisations should stress in job listings that they encourage diverse applicants to apply and that, in new hybrid work models, there will be the flexibility for neurodiverse employees to find the best working solution for them.
For more information on how to improve recruitment practices to support a more diverse workforce, read LOTI’s Recruitment Guide.
Boroughs should also ensure that the people they want to include have a role in shaping the policy that shapes the organisation. Of course, having groups or networks for specific groups is useful – especially if senior leaders actively meet with and listen to them – but, with almost infinite ways to identify oneself, some of your employees who you should be listening to may not be represented by these groups. The fundamental question is: How are diverse views informing decisions?
LOTI’s research shows there are a number of innovative techniques that boroughs can use to gather diverse views across the organisation. These include:
- Introduce reverse mentoring. This is a process by which senior staff are ‘mentored’ by staff in more junior positions, helping to ensure that young people are listened to. This has been implemented in the European Commission, for example. It should be noted that HR may want to heavily weight the diversity of mentors to ensure that senior leaders have one-to-one feedback with a particularly diverse group of people and simultaneously promote career opportunities to them. This MindTools article offers a useful introduction to reverse mentoring.
- Undertake periodic user research. This can help organisations to understand how employees ‘use’ the organisations they work in and what changes might be necessary. As boroughs develop skills in user research and user-centred design for their services, these skills can be applied to their own internal processes, with a focus on inclusion. The Greater London Authority (GLA) conducted user research during the COVID-19 pandemic to understand how different demographic groups within the organisation were faring – it was able to get far more granular information than from an anonymous survey.
Finally, Digital and IT departments in boroughs should pay special consideration to diversity and inclusion to ensure positive digital futures for their organisations. Those working in digital transformation do not need reminding that technologies can have both positive and negative unintended consequences on social equity. As such, this department in particular should have a strong relationship with HR on inclusion and try to include diverse stakeholders and users when piloting or testing new digital offerings for their organisation.