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Portrait of Debbie Mannas

The Futurist: Be open to all comers

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Debbie Mannas, group head of human resources, Wallem, believes culturally inclusive hiring practices are essential for the continued success of businesses.

When it comes to talent acquisition, HR practitioners must purposefully ensure culturally inclusive hiring continues into the future or risk losing their place as talent protagonists.

As we have seen, an increasing trend toward nationalism has recently led to some governments throwing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater when it comes to bias and political correctness.

Some anecdotal evidence points to business leaders following suit, swinging from a “don’t say/do it or we will get sued” culture to an “anything goes because our nation’s leader is OK with it” culture.

Ironically, history tells us that with an influx of new minds and new ways actually come huge strides in progress, innovation and growth.

HR teams are often the first point of contact for candidates, and the business culture is reflected in their mindset. Their mindset, in return, is based on that of the business leaders. So if the mindset of the leadership, and therefore the HR team, is to hire in their own likeness, the extent of innovation, growth and sustainability will be limited.

Therefore, HR must resist the nationalistic bandwagon and evolve past generalisations. For the sake of business, and indeed, national interests, we must be culturally inclusive, and influence our teams as well as our leadership to embrace collaboration and idea sharing. D&I initiatives must be seen as a talent imperative, not just a CSR box to check.

In a number of Asian countries, I have noticed an insistence on specific language skills in job ads, even if the role requires very little comprehension of that language; rather than worrying about rarer skills such as problem solving, creativity and communication.

Similarly, certain cultures are considered “lazy” and their CVs discarded just by looking at their names. On the flipside, someone from a native English speaking country may be hired as a teacher, even if their English is appalling.

If branded as biased, HR will lose its place as a talent attractor. Good candidates will instead contact others higher up in the organisation, or worse – reach out to a competitor. I’ve witnessed talented individuals from diverse backgrounds gravitate towards organisations that display openness and inclusivity, leaving organisations that don’t, behind.

To build teams for the future, we must be agnostic towards all else but talent. Until we can look past the stereotypes that ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, etc, conjure up, we will continue to see a push for such identifying data to be left off applications, forcing the issue.

In short, unless you created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, it’s best not to attempt to create teams in your own image. Your business depends on you being open to all people.

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Review the 2019 masterclasses here »

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