Meena Chander, founder of This Is Us Conference, discusses Gen Z attitudes towards diversity in the workplace and why it will be integral for businesses moving forwards
Gen Z – broadly similar to the Millennial generation in their characteristics – are those born between the mid-1990s and 2010.
Comprising 2.4 billion people, they represent 32% of the population globally and are expected to make up over a quarter of the workforce by 2025 (1).
One of the most outspoken generations, Gen Z are not afraid to portray their thoughts openly. Having been born and brought up in a more mixed society in terms of race, sexuality and disability, they have been a catalyst in raising awareness around diversity and are more integrated within a multi-faceted society than any other generation. In fact, in a recent survey, 83% of Gen Z candidates said a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is important when choosing an employer (2).
If your company is to find, attract, assess and hire members of this up-and-coming talent pool, you need to prioritise diversity and inclusion in a way you have never done before. Here are some of the main things to think about.
Look at your hiring process
You need to pay attention to your hiring process, otherwise, you could end up missing out on a wider selection of candidates. Make sure staff responsible for recruitment understand and can articulate your business’ commitment to diversity and inclusion, and that they take a considered approach to advertising jobs, writing job descriptions, and interviewing candidates. Don’t just advertise in industry-specific publications. Instead, branch out to LGBT media, women’s, and diversity and inclusion platforms. You must also review your current job adverts and remove any language that could reflect negatively on the culture of your business, and ensure the interviewers that are meeting candidates demonstrate the diversity of your firm to highlight that there are opportunities for everyone, for example by having both a man and a woman interview all shortlisted candidates. With diverse thinking and approaches you will attract diverse talent.
Start educating employees
You can’t overlook educating your employees if you want to get ahead in diversity and inclusivity. Diversity in the workplace starts from the top down, and you need to ensure everyone from the CEO right through to junior team members are fully on board and want to strive towards inclusivity in the workplace. Train your staff to understand why having a diverse workforce is so important and show them what they can do to help improve diversity in their own day to day roles.
Also, enrol them on a diversity training course, which will help them further understand the benefits of having a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Encourage them to attend events, such as diversity and inclusion conferences like This Is Us Conference, which will give them the chance to learn from people at the heart of diversity and inclusion, many of whom have experienced discrimination first hand. You could also arrange diversity and inclusion ‘lunch and learns’, which are really effective as they are delivered by specialists in the subject – not just HR departments.
Make everyone feel like they belong
You need to establish a sense of belonging for all employees if you want them to bring their best selves to work, so make every person feel like they can truly be themselves, whatever their culture, gender, race or orientation. Gestures like celebrating Eid, Chinese New Year or Pride Month are simple ways of helping employees feel accepted and increasing employee engagement. You should also think about giving employees days off to engage in their own cultural celebrations with family members – an effective way to make your organisation more attractive to prospective Gen Z-ers, or even enrolling them on a specific mentoring programme designed to help underrepresented groups develop into leadership positions.
Embrace diversity of all kinds
Diversity isn’t just about race or gender – you need to embrace generational differences, too. For example, having grown up in the digital age, Gen Z are not just comfortable with technology – it’s part of who they are. It’s important that you look at your outdated tech and get clued up on what Gen Z employees expect. They’re more comfortable sharing their opinions and ideas on social media and other platforms, rather than face to face, as they feel they can express themselves better online, so look at new software options for your internal and external communications, document sharing and brainstorming to ensure every aspect of your business is fully connected.
Make your policies diversity friendly
Saying your organisation cares about diversity and inclusivity isn’t enough – you need to show you don’t tolerate discrimination. The best way to combat prejudice is to address it, so make it clear that discrimination will not be accepted, and employees can feel comfortable speaking up if they are victims of intolerance.
You might also need to review and update your other workplace policies to create a diverse workforce. Think about the impact of your current systems and how they might prevent people from applying or staying with your company. For example, flexible working is becoming an expectation amongst job applicants, and setting fixed onsite hours might deter people like parents with young children or those with longer commutes. If you allow flexi-time, you can improve equal opportunities for staff unable to work standard hours and show that you care about their work/life balance and their personal circumstances.
Diversity is more important than ever for businesses to be a success, and even more so for companies that want to attract the best and brightest Gen Z workers. By following these steps, putting your company culture first and showing your commitment to diversity and inclusivity, you can make your business stand out to this valuable talent pipeline and lead by example for other employers not making this fundamental change.
(1) McCrindle, 2020
(2) Monster, 2020
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