What does workplace diversity really look like?

Research shows having a broad set of minds is good for a business’s bottom line; it’s good for its brand and, many argue, if you want to service the market you need to employ the market.

We’ve all heard why diversity in the workplace is so important.

But having the intent to broaden the employee spectrum isn’t enough; it can require some research to ensure your messages of attraction are reaching the people you desire.

SEEK conducted an in-depth study of more than 4,500 New Zealanders across 10 different industries to bring evidence-based insights into the diversity conversation.

Research manager, Caroline North, says the findings of the SEEK Laws of Attraction study show how significantly the key drivers that attract people to a job can vary between industries, as well as among different sub-sets of candidates.

What a Millennial candidate wants in a job is very different to what a Baby Boomer desires. Similarly, what draws a male candidate to a role can contrast greatly with what a female needs.

Even the sector in which you work can influence your priorities. Healthcare workers prioritise work-life balance for example, whilst ICT has a much greater focus on Salary.

 “This highlights how valuable it is for people in HR and recruitment to remember that everyone is different; what they are thinking about, isn’t necessarily what their candidate is prioritising, and the more they can understand their potential candidates the better.’’ says North.

Using the Laws of Attraction data, recruiters will be able to gather a clear picture of what their targeted candidate wants and adapt their messages to ensure it aligns with those desires

“Candidates are bombarded with messages,” says North.

“Looking for a new job is a very stressful and emotional time so having a clear communication strategy for how you engage with that audience is really important.”

The untapped senior market

Our ageing workforce is well documented and there are many people nearing retirement age whose desire, or need, to work is strong.

The significant spending power of this demographic is often overlooked but, if an organisation wants to better understand their customer, getting more Baby Boomers on the books could be a goal.

If that’s your intent, then a campaign highlighting career development opportunities is unlikely to be the best approach. The research shows career is three times more appealing to Millennials than it is to Baby Boomers.

On the flip side, speaking about job location or management quality will prick up the ears of more Baby Boomers than it will the youngsters.

Women’s wishes versus male motivations

Likewise, when it comes to gender, understanding the make-up of an industry can be beneficial when trying to broaden the variety of candidates applying for a role.

Professions such as accounting have a fairly even split of women and men. However, in construction, men outnumber women 9:1 while there are three times as many females looking for healthcare roles compared to males.

North says while it is one thing to have targets and quotas, it’s also necessary to understand the structural issues preventing the interest from coming in.

“If you are challenged because you have a smaller pool, then you have to work harder to make your message get through to them,” she says.

Men and women consistently identify salary, work-life balance and career development as their top three drivers, however work-life balance has significantly more importance to women. They also respond well to location and working environment. For men, it is salary, career development and company reputation that has noticeably more appeal than it has for women.

“The diversity in the workplace means those key drivers are not equal to all people at the same time,” says North.

“We need different thinking to unearth opportunities and solutions to problems in a new way so we can open up new markets.”

Adecco: Forerunners in the disability field

Adecco New Zealand has been a strong advocate for increasing diversity in the workplace and made significant strides in improving opportunities for people with disabilities.

In 2010 the recruitment firm partnered up with Paralympics New Zealand to connect and support disabled athletes as they pursue their careers outside of their sporting achievements via the Adecco Athlete Career Program (ACP).

It’s a partnership that is breaking down barriers for people with disabilities in the wider business world.

Adecco NZ’s corporate managing director Mike Davies says workplaces have much to gain from employing people with disabilities but says it can sometimes take high profile names such as Paralympic gold medalists Sophie Pascoe, Mary Fisher and Cameron Leslie to highlight what people with disabilities have to offer.

“These are disabled people in our minds, who are missing limbs or blind, but you have to remember in their minds they are not, when you start working with them it opens up your eyes that they are very capable and good at whatever they take on.”

Davies believes companies can sometimes try too hard to tick the diversity box when the best strategy can be just to honestly believe in it.

He wants corporate NZ to step up.

“People with a disability can do the same job as you or I, they just have slightly different requirements. Usually those requirements are minimal but if it is a bit more complicated there are organisations such as the Accident Compensation Committee (ACC) that can assist.”

Davies is more than just talk. Adecco New Zealand leads by example with 3% of its 100 full time staff having severe disabilities.

The recruitment firm has also placed four severely disabled people into jobs in the past 12 months – three of them found full time employment and one is in a part-time role.

He says employment of these four people alone has saved the taxpayer approximately $11 million dollars in welfare costs but, financial benefit aside, Davies says it is the cultural change diversity brings to an organisation that makes it worth doing.

While he admits it can initially be confronting for their colleagues, once they experience how people with a disability overcome challenges, find alternative solutions, see their positive attitude to life and diligence to work, Davies says the cultural shift within the workplace can be ‘phenomenal’.

“There are a quarter of a million people in New Zealand that have a disability and want to work that don’t get the opportunity,” says Davies.

“People with disabilities are often well educated, take less leave, work harder, stay longer and create more engagement amongst the staff - you are doing yourself a disservice by not at least considering it.”

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