Article | September 3, 2021
We live in a world where equality, in numerous forms, continues to reside at the forefront of many people’s minds. From gender to race and everything in between, things have certainly improved, but there is still a very long way to go.
Today, there are a mere six female CEOs in the UK FTSE 100, with the average male CEO earning 17% more than the average female CEO. Gender equality has been in the spotlight far longer than other protected characteristics such as race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age and it continues to remain prominent.
And here, CEO and founder of AssessFirst, the innovative artificial intelligence recruitment firm, David Bernard, asks why, if we are losing the battle for gender equality in the FTSE 100, we should expect to see diversity, equity and inclusion successes across a much wider cross section of the business community.
A race to equality and diversity
The business case for gender, cultural and ethnic diversity is strong, and is only getting stronger.
Since 2015, McKinsey has conducted extensive research and produced compelling reports that demonstrate ironically, whilst the business case for diversity is robust, international progress is weak.
The latest reports show that those pushing ahead with gender diversity are 25% more likely to financially outperform companies in the bottom quartile. What’s more, for ethnic and cultural diversity, the top quartile companies are 36% more likely to be profitable than bottom quartile companies.
The UK (aside from the US) leads the way with gender equality on executive teams. But representation here only grew by 5% between 2014 and 2019. McKinsey's global data set for 2017-2019 shows a mere 1% increase. This pitiful and indeed slowing progress is a problem. We need to do better.
Yes, the UK and the US lead the way with gender diversity, but there is still a long way to go, and neighboring countries need to make quick and impactful changes.
And, let’s not forget, whilst gender equality is of pressing importance, businesses and leaders should ensure that other cases, such as culture and ethnicity, are considered no less important.
A knock-on effect
I see a lack of diversity and equality in workforces as a psychological manifestation of who we are.
We, as are all humans, are programmed to find differences in our perceptions distasteful. We just do not like change - even if we adapt to it in the end - and even 'feedback' on our actions is naturally offensive to us.
So, with that in mind, it is inevitable that we have ended up in a situation where we have an echo chamber of talent that isn't necessarily supported by objective performance data.
The problem manifests itself everywhere; from the executive hires in the world's biggest companies to the latest bartender pulling pints at the local pub.
Conventional hiring and recruitment, such as only using a CV to identify and rank talent, is part of the root cause of bias decision-making (however implicit it may be) because the initial filter sifts candidates based on their upbringing, education, experience, or even appearance.
We are, thankfully, at the start of a movement of change. But this is a problem that is hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of years in the making. We need to unpick that problem with a collaborative and collective effort.
Covid-19 impacted diversity, equality and inclusion progress
There has been a polarization of diversity, equality and inclusion efforts, also known as DE&I, as a fallout of Covid-19, the ongoing pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns.
In the spring of 2020, companies rightly turned their attention to the Covid-19 crisis. Most have continued to do so – either to stay afloat or even gain a competitive advantage – which meant DE&I became more of a focus for some whilst a matter of less significance for others.
Those that deprioritized DE&I - perhaps as a short-term measure to consolidate HR and hiring resources - have weakened their position; whether that is in their ability to retain, recruit, or mobilize their workforce, or even all those stages in the talent lifecycle.
Diverse talent is often most at-risk during times of challenge and hardship, as downsizing can have a disproportionate impact on roles held by those from more diverse backgrounds. And with increased home-working practices, all manner of inequalities can manifest in ways that will hit the bottom line and badly impact minorities.
For example, those who are managing childcare responsibilities during periods of isolation or school closures or those who are living in shared accommodation may be frequently working against the odds in order to keep pace with their peers.
Without a diverse collective of perspective catering to a diverse workforce, these problems can multiply to cripple performance from the ground up.
The acceleration of DE&I
The generational leap of tech-first remote working for so many companies provided an opportunity to build inclusive and agile cultures. Though we may be coming out of the ‘crisis', there remains a golden opportunity – and one that businesses should seize.
Traditional management structures, reinforced by physical office environments, have been fundamentally changed forever - even if we see a hybrid home-office working pattern become the norm from this point onward.
With this revolution, HR departments find themselves in a situation a pathway to achieving diversity and inclusion goals seems more realistic.
Make or break: what’s next?
There is no silver bullet. There is much to consider and even more to do.
But, with a few simple changes, real and meaningful progress is possible. What encourages me is that with all the companies that I speak to, particularly within the UK, there is almost wholesale agreement that this is an important issue - notwithstanding the economic arguments. However, the same cannot be said for all other countries across the globe.
The most common question I receive from those who recognize the criticality of this however is, "But, where do we start?"
And to that, my response is always the same; "What is the data telling you? What is your workforce saying about your DE&I efforts?"
We must know what the scale of the problem is before we can tackle it. Every single company is unique, and the manner of their ideal solution is unique to suit.
Once the problem is identified, I recommend a few ideas that can be considered to start spinning the wheels of change:
1) Get unbiased views of candidate potential (internal and external)
2) Consult with your DE&I team, committee, or lead when publishing job descriptions
3) Implement DE&I training for your workforce
4) Offer remote working opportunities where practical and appropriate
I'm proud that AssessFirst continues to help companies of all shapes and sizes with their DE&I goals through our data-led psychometric technology. We practice what we preach with our own remote workforce and using this technology as part of our own talent lifecycle management. But I recognize that fantastic technology is most effective when it is embedded as a part of a wider reaching strategy.
I have hope for the future, though there is ongoing work to do, and there will be for quite some time. But as the UK economy stirs back to life within what feels like the closing chapters of ‘crisis’, we can also bring the equality gaps to a close with renewed urgency.
Working in partnership with a handful of partners in the UK, we created a Diversity and Inclusion strategy guide.
Article | September 3, 2021
Around the world, and throughout almost every sector, the fourth industrial revolution is ushering in a new era – an age of digital disruption and automation, in which the very essence of how humans work is being redefined.
When we refer to the fourth industrial revolution, we refer to the digital transformation of processes, tasks and jobs that have traditionally been undertaken manually. At its core, the digital transformation process involves implementing specialist technologies that ‘digitalise’ operations.
Digitising operations – which can include fully or partially automating them - makes them far more efficient, cost effective, and more enjoyable for human workers. The digitising process also reduces risk, streamlines processes and allows more efficient allocation of resources. Ultimately, it enables businesses to work smarter and faster and leads to more fulfilled personnel – all at a lower cost.
From the chatbots used by an insurer’s customer service departments to the increasingly automated KYC checks undertaken by investment banks, industries of all shape are already on the path of digital transformation. There remains, however, considerable concern, confusion and miscaption over how this new era of automation will impact traditional jobs, skills, training and wider company culture.
In recent years, reading some of the tabloid newspapers in the UK would make you believe the worst. Headlines such as “nearly nine million British jobs could be lost to AI by 2030” and, more recently, “Covid pandemic is ‘accelerating the rise of robots’ which will lead to loss of millions of hospitality jobs” would imply digital transformation will lead to a dystopian future in which humans will become redundant (a doomsday scenario referred to as the ‘jobocalypse’).
In reality, many automation tools such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), for example, simply don’t have the capacity to ‘think’ for themselves (unlike AI); their ability lies in automating repetitive, manual, mundane high-volume tasks that require a lot of processing time but little human expertise.
Given RPA cannot function or be configured without human intelligence, it has not yet been a direct driver of unemployment. Rather, the technology is there to enhance human thinking, and work side-by-side with humans, not replace them.
Research from McKinsey shows that 40% of workers spend at least a quarter of their work week on repetitive tasks, whilst 60% estimate they could save at least six hours a week with greater automation of their role. University of London research also shows that employees at organisations augmented by automation get a third more done with their time, freed from the ball-and-chain burden of monotonous repetition.
There will still be a need for human input and decision making in processes, but RPA is able to do the heavy lifting; and for those whose job would have previously seen them manually do the heavy lifting, they in turn can be upskilled or transferred to new, more engaging roles.
In the summer of 2021, the British Commons Work and Pension Committee concluded as such, when it published a comprehensive report into the fourth industrial revolution. The report stated that: “The evidence we have heard does not suggest that new technology will lead to mass displacement of workers: instead, it is likely to lead to the creation of new jobs alongside the loss of others. Automation may also result in the transformation rather than the loss of existing jobs.”
Where the greatest impact of digital transformation will lie, from a human and personnel aspect, is not therefore in redundancy – but in the skills and culture change that the process of transformation involves.
Contrary to a common misconception, digital transformation is not simply about implementing technology and flicking a digital switch. It is first and foremost about change within and between people, and for change to be effective, a proactive culture – that is, a mindset that positively embraces the opportunities afforded by digital transformation – is vital. Instilling a positive culture of change will therefore be one of the greatest challenges HR departments face in the coming years.
Another area that human staff will feel the greatest change as a result of automation is in upskilling and reskilling. It is already becoming increasingly important for staff to be digitally savvy and native, to understand how digital transformation is transforming the workplace, and – on a practical level – to be able to operate many of the new technologies that are being implemented.
Currently, there is a considerable tech skills gap in the global workforce, with companies unable to source the tech expertise they require; there will, therefore, be considerable pressure on HR departments to ensure that existing staff are sufficiently trained and equipped with the right skills for the automated age, and that recruitment is better angled towards hiring those that are technologically fluent and capable.
For any programme of transformation (be it digital or otherwise), there are five key stages to successfully implementing digital transformation which HR change makers should base a programme of transformation around. Known as the ADKAR model, the five stages are: awareness; desire; knowledge; ability and reinforcement.
These stages involve effectively communicating why digital transformation is necessary; having a desire to undertake transformation; knowing how a digital transformation strategy can be implemented; having the right and capable people to implement this strategy; and ongoing reinforcement through culture and investment.
The time for companies to digitally transform is now – and as the previous three revolutions have demonstrated, technology doesn’t replace – but complements and optimises human processes, paving the way for a whole host of new skills and experiences to be unlocked for those involved. Through upskilling, retraining, education and culture change, HR departments will be the key drivers of transformation.
Dr Zeynep Hizir, Doctor of Digital Transformation and intelligent automation (IA) implementation academic.
Article | September 3, 2021
Significant changes in sustainable agriculture need to be made as our population rises and puts pressure on global food security. In fact, the global food system accounts for about one quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, consumes the majority of all freshwater, and is the leading cause of deforestation. By 2050, there will be another two billion people on the planet increasing food demand by 70%. Sustainable alternatives can ensure that there’s enough safe and affordable food. Using artificial lights in horticulture is one way to increase demand without driving up the resource usage.
Article | September 3, 2021
Human resource best practices has drastically changed in the last decade and it has been observed that somehow they affect the organizations in many ways. As a result of this, nowadays, creating programs that improve the quality of work environment, organizing activities to nurture talent anddevelop future leadersmotivating employees, etc. are the things that help align HR goals with the company’s vision. If you manage to make your sales guys happy, it results in a 37% increased sale. The same is the case with other departments. It is found that engaged and happy employees become 20% more productive in their respective work.
If your organization is dedicated to following HR best practices, you will be able to see higher employee retention andhappier employees who contribute to the best of their abilities.This blog will take you through HR best practices in 2020 where you will get to know which activities you can apply in your organization, why are they important and how it will affect the workplace in this and the coming years. Let’s go over them one by one.
Table of Contents:
- Providing Employee Security
- Hiring Right Candidate for the Right Position
- Improving Engagement Through Feedback
- Offering Flexible Workspace
- Compensation and Benefits
Providing Employee Security
It is an undeniable fact that secure employees can give the best work results. When we speak about HR best practices, it is the prominent factor that tops the list. Where there are many changes in the lives of employees, a stable job or workplace is something they look up to and when it comes to career goals of, it is achieved by them in the long term.
When employees feel constantly worried about their jobs, they can’t perform which affects their results. So as an employer it is your responsibility to make them feel secure providing everything which is necessary so that they can relax and settle into doing their best work. It is a proven fact that job security is the best motivator for employees around the world when they can see the direct correlation between work productivity and their future with the company.
The other side of employee security is retaining employees that can significantly affect your bottom line and increase productivity. It is not just about good employees leaving your organization because of employee security reasons but also being able to maintain them to boost the company’s reputation as an employer as there are always some organizations that are willing to hire good employees. For instance suppose some X number of employees stick together with your organization for a long time, they are more likely to work on dynamic projects. They are the ones who create a stronger bond and bolster a strong sense of corporate culture.
Hiring Right Candidate for the Right Position
You obviously can’t hire people just for the sake of filling the positions because it seriously affects the organization in long terms. Here comes the selective hiring approach. What is it exactly? Hiring people who are not just fit for the role but also exceptional and can add value is something that every employer would want to invest time in. Performance analysis gives eye-opening data about hiring the right candidates. According to research, the difference between an average performer and a high performer can be as high as 400% and the data proves to be true for various industries, geography, and job types.
So it is supremely important to bring the right people in the organization to build a competitive advantage.
With the technological advancement, hiring professionals are availed with faster hiring software and tools that save your time. Further, to filter out candidates, the selection criteria that decide the characteristics of a candidate can be divided into 3 sections as ability, trainability, and commitment. Depending on these capabilities, it becomes easier for you to make hiring decisions.
Improving Engagement Through Feedback
Employee feedback is beneficial for both i.e. employees and the company. For employees, it is beneficial for career development and for employers and the company it results in much better and improved productivity. So it is important to note that every person involved in the feedback process is well aware of what needs to pay more attention and that fills the gaps for overall success. To support why employee feedback is necessary, there are some stats.
-69% of employees say they would work harder if they feel their efforts are valued and recognized.
-In a study of 65, 672 employees, Gallup (An American analytics and advisory company) found those employees who received strength feedback had a 14.9% lower turnover rate than those who did not receive any feedback.
Growth seems impossible without crucial feedback that is delivered regularly. It impacts financial growth, leadership growth, employee engagement, and the cultural growth of the company.
Offering Flexible Workspace
Nowadays workplaces have become more than cubicles where employees just come in, make them comfortable and focus on work with freedom in mind. If you are wondering about how office designs can motivate employees to increase work productivity then it will be good to know for you that many companies are investing to support flexible workspaces. Even if the existing design of your office is professional, you may be lagging in getting the most out of available space and when you think of employee comfort and workflow. To start with, simply you can allow them to tailor and custom their desks inspiring flexible work environment.
Another aspect that comes under this category apart from physical space to work is giving your employees access to work from home. In the end, employees are people with different preferences and to value their preferences is surely going to result in better productivity making more profit in the business. So it’s always an option to think about how and when they work which is going to save money, time, resources, enhance productivity, creativity, creating happier and healthier teams.
So, here is an opportunity to make it a win-win situation for business owners and employees to cherish in 2020.
Learn more: Critical factors that affect employee productivity
Compensation and Benefits
After hiring the right people what HRs need to focus on is retaining them balancing their and the company’s growth. These are the people who will be adding value and achieving goals of the company so you need to pay them fairly and inspire to make them stay. Apart from this, you can give them performance-based rewards appreciating their contributions at every step of the journey. Activities like this create a sense of ownership for employees and they get motivated to maximize their results, commitment to the company’s long-term visions and you will be able to retain high potentials.