It can be tricky to know how to approach recruitment with a ‘diversity mindset’, but it could be the best thing you ever do for your franchise. And with all of the information that shows how beneficial a diverse workplace can be for your company, you’d be silly not to take notice. Here’s why we believe it’s so important to recruit with your ‘diversity mindset’ head on.
The most successful teams are made up of people that are different, but who can come together as one complimentary unit. It can be hard to fill every skill, experience or personality gap if your team isn’t very diverse. And if you haven’t given much thought to diversity yet, you could be making a huge financial mistake.
Research suggests that companies that focus on improving racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns well above their industry’s average (McKinsey). Countless other benefits, including improved productivity, better workplace culture and greater employee retention, have been noticed in diverse workplaces. Luckily, it’s never too late to improve your company’s diversity and reap the rewards of doing so.
What is diversity?
Diversity is most commonly used to refer to ethnic backgrounds and race, but the terms covers so much more than the way we look. Diversity can refer to:
- Race, skin tone and ethnic background
- Disabilities (both physical and intellectual)
- Socio-economic background
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
True diversity also encourages staff to embrace and celebrate their differences, rather than simply tolerating them. In a diverse workplace, everyone should be free to discuss matters like religion, sexuality and their background without feeling less than colleagues. But as many businesses like Facebook (which was grilled for its diversity policies) have shown, it takes work to build a truly diverse workplace.
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Franchising as a whole is a diverse sector. The bfa NatWest study 2018 found that 30% of all franchisees are women, a figure that only looks set to grow. Additionally, a 2019 study by the IFA (International Franchise Association) Foundation and PwC found that 31% of American franchised businesses were owned by BAME people, compared to just 19% of independent businesses. However, it’s up to every franchisor and franchisee to continue to prioritise diversity in their recruitment process.
Why is diversity important to businesses?
According to Forbes, a lack of diversity can harm your business in many ways. Educational institutions like Harvard and Oxford University have landed themselves in reputational hot water because of it, and research shows that you’re 15% less likely to have above average profits if your gender diversity is poor (McKinsey). And a visible lack of diversity could put off talented diverse candidates, who feel they don’t fit the ‘mould’ for your business.
By building a team that represents the spectrum of society, you’ll have insight into how a wide range of potential customers think. What’s more, you can use your team’s experience to appeal to different customer groups that you know far less about. And by bringing together people with different life experience, you’re more likely to discover solutions to problems that you would’ve never considered alone.
What is a diversity mindset?
Essentially, a diversity mindset is one that makes every effort to reduce the internal noise of unconscious bias, prejudice and assumptions during the recruitment process. This kind of mindset also pushes you to look in different areas to find the best talent for your business. You might even find that you’re willing to be more flexible and to adapt roles to suit a diverse range of applicants.
Try not to close off avenues of potential before you’ve even explored them. Challenge your prejudices and take steps to address them. Let’s say you’re running a business in a traditionally male-dominated sector, like an automotive franchise, and have noticed women don’t seem to get many chances. Make a conscious effort to interview as many female applicants as male ones, or take initiative and go searching for talented female mechanics to bring into your business.
It can be more of an effort, but it’s a worthy endeavour that will benefit your business endlessly. You could find that more female customers visit your garage afterwards, or that your company culture shifts from laddish to welcoming with a more diverse team. Don’t just follow the way things have always been done – take your franchise to the next level by recruiting with an open mind that seeks diverse solutions.
How should I approach diversity?
Whatever you do, don’t look at diversity as some kind of arbitrary quota that you need to meet. A business doesn’t need a certain number of LGBT or BAME or disabled employees to be diverse and this ‘box-ticking’ approach can actually be detrimental.
Let’s say you hire an employee solely because you think it will make your business more inclusive. However, it’s clear when they start (and was clear from the moment you met them) that their personality and approach to work are totally incompatible with your business. You’ve improved diversity, but have harmed your team’s dynamic as a result. Besides, you’re keeping this person from taking a role that would probably suit them better. Nobody benefits if you approach diversity this way.
Instead, try and cast your net wider to find diverse applicants that are the right fit. If all of your employees are the same from a diversity perspective, it’s also worth thinking about why. Is your local community not very diverse? Is something about your company’s ethos/culture putting off diverse applicants and interviewees? Do you have any unconscious biases that are getting in the way of your hiring process – for example, that employees over a certain age aren’t worth considering?
If you’re running a large franchise or business, it’s worth conducting an internal audit to get to the bottom of your diversity issues. But if you’re a smaller business owner, there are lots of free online resources that explain how to adopt a more diverse and inclusive approach to recruitment. You could also speak to a business coach that specialises in diversity if you’re really lost about where to begin.
What if my applicants aren’t diverse?
It’s tricky when, no matter how open you are to diversifying your team, your pool of applicants isn’t diverse. There are a number of tactics you can use to improve this, such as:
- Advertising your jobs in difference places so that a more diverse audience sees them
- Using job websites aimed at specific groups
- Using community groups to target specific applicants
- Reaching out to recruitment agencies that focus on diverse candidates
Make sure you speak to your franchisor too, as they may have some tried and tested ideas you can borrow. This is particularly true if you’re part of a large network, as diversity and inclusion is not something franchises this big can afford to ignore.
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Diversify your business
As you can see, it’s important to keep a diverse mindset when hunting for a new team member. Fail to do so and you could overlook talented individuals that have the power to take your business to the next level. Don’t worry if your ‘diversity mindset’ feels like a work-in-progress at first. It’s hard to change the way you’ve always looked at things, but as long as you’re committed to a more open-minded approach, that’s all that matters.
We’ve got plenty more articles on all things franchising, whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned pro looking to take your business to the next level. Or, find the ideal franchise opportunity for you by browsing our UK franchise directory.
Sophie Cole, Point Franchise ©