Every organisation that takes diversity seriously knows that hiring a diverse workforce is not as easy as it might appear. It takes a lot more effort than simply ensuring jobs are widely and openly advertised. It requires a real effort to overcome unconscious bias, and to ensure that the right candidates are found for every role.

But diversity, though challenging, is a worthwhile goal. Not just for its own sake, but also for another reason that most organisations are less aware of: diversity makes good business sense.

According to McKinsey’s Why diversity matters, companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above national industry medians, while gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their peers. Research from Deloitte Australia shows inclusive teams outperforming their peers by 80.

Beating bias

Diversity, though, is not measured by ethnicity alone. A successful workforce likely contains diverse job histories, cultural backgrounds, levels of education and personalities.

With so much variation between employees, how can we ensure we place the right candidates in the right roles, overcoming the unconscious bias which plagues so many in recruiting? Training people to avoid bias is rarely effective. There has to be a better approach.

The solution is to remove the source of unconscious bias–the ‘gut feeling’ that so many managers rely on when recruiting–and replace it with good, hard data.

Everyone fits somewhere

Using performance profiles to describe the behavioural attributes of a great hire makes it is possible to check individual candidate profiles for fit, avoiding both the guesswork and unconscious bias that accompany traditional, old-style recruiting methods.

The results can be dramatic.

We’ve recently concluded a substantial piece of research looking at hiring patterns across more than 50,000 individuals in multiple industries, including restaurant, retail sales, call centre and hourly warehouse roles.

The data doesn’t lie. By using a data-driven approach, the hiring rate of minorities increased by 26.7%. That’s an increase in well-qualified candidates hired into roles where they will excel.

There’s a lot of talk about the benefits of big data, but for me, this is up there with the best – it helps us make decisions that are better for all of us.

Managing and maintaining a diverse workforce is essential, but it is something that many employers have–until now–struggled to achieve. Now, using performance profiles combined with Infor’s tried and tested analysis of 39 behavioural traits, it is possible to hire the best people for the job, focusing only on their fit to the job and nothing else.

The result: employees better fitted to the role, who will do a better job and stay in position longer, and a more diverse workplace that maximises the value of our behavioural differences.

By Jason E. Taylor, Chief HCM Scientist, Infor