Key take-aways from Hire Immigrants Ottawa’s Employer Learning Forum

November 21, 2016 Aida Hadziomerovic

In speaking last week at the Hire Immigrants Ottawa, Employer Learning Forum 2016, I was overwhelmed at the positive reception to the idea that competencies enable organization to build diverse and inclusive workplaces. I think this is indicative of the desire for increased diversity and inclusion, and that people are really on board and want to improve it.

In speaking with many of the over 60 employers who attended the event there were two main themes that came up over and over again:

  1. HR professionals recognize that unconscious biases exist in many organizations’ hiring practices, but they don’t know how to manage it.
  2. Employers recognize the benefits of greater diversity and inclusion in the workplace but they don’t know how to implement it.

One of the great outcomes of the event was that the attendees walked away with a clear understanding of how competencies can be used to address both of these issues.

Removing bias

How can you take the unconscious bias we all have as humans and remove it from the equation? One of the simplest ways to do this, and what I always recommend to my clients, is to use competencies that have been developed and validated according to best practices. Here at HRSG we use a process that ensures our competencies incorporate input from a range of subject matter experts from diverse backgrounds and point of views to ensure they are representative of our diverse workforce. By focusing on the behaviors identified in the competencies, you can minimize bias in all your HR functions by assessing against the requirements of the job rather than topics that could allow biases to creep into your process.

Promoting diversity and inclusion

In order to promote diversity and inclusion, the most important thing is to create a culture that is open to these kinds of values. But the hard part comes in communicating these values to employees. I always advise clients that it’s all about taking the abstract to the concrete. By that I mean take an abstract concept, like diversity and inclusion, and define it through behaviors that people can understand and demonstrate. One way I have seen work effectively is to implement a competency such as “Embracing Diversity” as part of the organization’s core competencies. This can help employees to understand what diversity and inclusion means and how they can demonstrate the value through concrete behaviors. And in order to affect real change, I recommend a two-pronged approach. 1) There needs to be tangible benefits tied to the value, such as KPIs, and 2) management needs to “walk the talk” and incorporate these behaviors into their day to day actions, both in how they behave towards their employees and in the policies they implement throughout the organization. If you can work these two approaches into your strategies, you are well on your way to building a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Click here if you want to learn more about using competencies to enhance workplace diversity.

Watch the recorded live broadcast

LIVE on #Periscope: broadcasting live from EDC #HIOLearn #embracing diversity

— HRSG (@HRSG_Competency) November 17, 2016

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About the Author

Aida Hadziomerovic

Aida Hadziomerovic is an experienced consultant with over 10 years of experience in human resources (HR) management. She has developed and implemented competency-based HR management solutions with clients such as Qatar Steel, Royal Bank of Canada and the Bank of Kuwait.

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