Skip main navigation

As a company, what can you actually do to find more diverse people?

How can businesses and researchers find more diverse people? Explore some actionable solutions in this article.
A climber climbs along a difficult overhanging rockface.

1. Stop hosting network sessions in places that aren’t easily accessible

We’ve been to so many events that are based in Shoreditch, on Liverpool Street, etc.

These places are difficult to get to for huge swathes of the UK population.

Let’s just break down the minimum cost for someone from Leicester attending a hypothetical event in Shoreditch:

  • Taking the day off work: £90
  • Buying the event ticket: £20
  • Buying a return ticket: £50
  • Buying decent looking clothes for the event: £20 (minimum)
  • TFL Day Travel Card: £12.70
  • Total: £192.70

Bear in mind, this doesn’t even address the fact that many low-paid, zero-hour jobs insist that workers don’t take time off.

That might be illegal, but with zero-hour contract work, employers can just stop giving shifts whenever they feel like it for no apparent reason.

They don’t even have to fire you.

There would likely be other associated costs, including food, post-event drinks (come on, it’s a networking event) and possibly a taxi home from Leicester station.

All in all, this one networking event could constitute half or more of someone’s weekly pay.

A response to this might be, ‘But it’s not my problem if someone can’t afford it. I’m running a business not a charity.’

The thing is, it actually is your problem. You can’t have diversity in research without diverse groups of people on your team.

Simply by making events and opportunities more accessible, you gain access to a much more diverse cross-section of society. You will get to meet people who may have more potential than you ever thought possible.

2. Be more accessible

To own technology is a privilege.

Tech accessibility is not going to be there for everyone. If a company posts an application out on angellist.com, only people that know angellist.com exists are going to apply to that job.

According to a 2020 report from the Office for National Statistics, 2.7 million people in Britain had never used the internet or hadn’t used it in three months.

No one who doesn’t know someone else in the industry will know that angellist.com exists, so they won’t apply.

This goes for basically every job site out there.

Again, it’s easy to say, ‘But if they’re not going to check then why should I care? I want to hire “curious self-starters with enthusiasm and drive.”’

Realistically, there are hundreds of thousands of job briefs out there.

No one has time to investigate them all.

Any human being with the mindset most companies want will filter through them to find the best jobs on offer.

If companies don’t make their job listings clearer and more available, they will never get the diverse talent to help them thrive.

3. Use more offline hiring practices

There’s an assumption that everyone with the skills and talent required will have access to high-grade equipment, software, networking platforms, or even the internet.

By the end of 2020, 4.3 million children were living in relative poverty in the UK. Three-quarters of those children lived in working households. [1]

If a company wants diverse applicants with great potential, they won’t find them in the usual places. That talent is unlikely to know where to look, or even that there is anything to look for.

This is not an argument to increase the ethical righteousness of an organisation – although that’s not a bad thing.

If an organisation doesn’t include these people, they’ll never be able to ask the right questions of their research, and they’ll never be able to serve their customers.

This does not have to be a difficult process. Contact a local Job Centre and ask for a list of people with the attributes you need. Go to a high street recruitment agency.

Look anywhere and everywhere that you have never looked before.

You can also post your job on LinkedIn as Quick Apply only. ‘Why would I do that?’ you may ask.

Most people in the UK can barely afford their rent, even though they work full-time, low-pay jobs. Those people physically do not have the time to apply to every single job with the same energy and passion as a middle-class, 20-something with familial financial support.

Often, when you see an application that blows you away, you’re not seeing a ‘self-starter’ with ‘raw talent’ and ‘ambition’.

You’re seeing someone with all those things plus lots of spare time, financial stability and support.

4. Two MAs and 10-years of industry experience is not an entry-level position

If companies want people they’ve never found before, they can’t expect a gazillion years of experience.

5. When you intentionally exclude

Many companies intentionally make their job application processes opaque. There could be many reasons to do this. One of the main reasons we’ve found is that many companies don’t want to cover the tech costs of new hires.

This is counter-productive in so many ways we actually don’t have enough time to explore them all. However, it would be incredibly easy to work around this problem in another way. Instead of providing a full tech suite to new hires, companies could:

  • Institute a 0% interest loan programme.
  • Provide a space where people can share tech.
  • Work with local councils to get tech into the hands that need it.

Not only would this support people for their whole lives, but it would also increase the diversity of people that companies and industries have access to.

References

  1. Save the Children, 2021. Save the Children’s UK Statement in response to today’s HBAI (Household Below Average Income) statistics. [online] Available at: Save the Children [Accessed 10 September 2021].
This article is from the free online

Cultivating Diversity through Research and Insights

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education