The why and how of inclusive hiring
With ESG increasingly at the forefront of consumers and investors’ minds, businesses today must make efforts to do good and benefit the communities around them.
Inclusive recruitment is one way leaders and HR professionals can initiate change in the organisation. It is not just about recruiting people from underrepresented backgrounds to tick off a box. It is a process which actively recognises diversity and embraces a wide range of qualities and perspectives that candidates bring to the company.
More importantly, it translates to doing good in the long term, and enables organisations to access an untapped pool of experienced candidates. These include single mothers returning to the workforce, persons with disabilities, seniors, and ex-offenders.
I personally found success with these groups of candidates whilst working with them at Regent Singapore.
Employees who are on the autism spectrum are often able to complete routine tasks to the highest order, such as organising stocks in a very systematic and precise manner.
Persons with disabilities could function in roles that would be not affected by the disability. For example, we had a deaf-mute staff member who polished glasses, and a wheelchair-bound staff member who used one arm as a telephone operator.
Seniors are particularly strong in mentoring younger staff especially if they have been in the role for many years. These include responsibilities in customer service areas like in-room dining, lobby ambassadors and public area cleaning.
Ex-offenders held positions in the kitchen, laundry, housekeeping and even guest services.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Inclusive Hiring Requires a Mindset Shift
The traditional function of human resources often involves finding the right candidates who are effective and efficient. Today, however, that has expanded to include the strategic implementation of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace; knowing that these efforts would not just bring positive, long-term benefits to the organisation and its bottom line, but also be an integral part of its ongoing journey in doing good.
Seeking the Right Ingredients
It is no secret that sparking true change requires buy-in from higher management. However, it is also crucial to have the support of the entire workplace. This means having colleagues who are excited about inclusive hiring policies, and are ready to implement these policies in their departments.
That said, achieving true implementation is easier said than done, and this is where external guidance and support comes in. I made it a point to have discussions with like-minded professionals who are also exploring the integration of ESG into their business model. Having access to this network of counsel and support gives HR practitioners ample opportunities to refine their plans and ensure that the implementation is strategically sound.
An example of where I found such like-minded individuals is through the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC)’s Company of Good Fellowship. It is a talent development programme that provides opportunities for business leaders to build capabilities and ideas on impactful business solutions while leveraging corporate best practices in doing good.
It was also here where I learned to implement inclusive hiring in a strategic manner through Company of Good’s 4 ‘I’ Framework:
- Investment — this refers to how extensively and strategically a company does good. Some changes such as crafting new office layouts to ensure ease of physical movements for the PWDs are a form of investment practitioners will have to take into account for.
- Integration — this looks at how doing good is integrated with business functions and supports business interests. Being in the hospitality industry, we face a regular cycle of manpower crunch, and this will only be more obvious when travel and international business activities start ramping up. By integrating inclusive hiring to expand our reach to more potential candidates and other business functions, it was a timely opportunity to challenge our own perceptions while creating a win-win situation by embracing inclusive hiring.
- Institutionalisation — this focuses on how doing good is supported by policies, systems and incentives. By putting in place the new inclusive hiring policies, revamping the job scopes to reflect the inclusivity, and developing a new onboarding system for the new hires that best suits their needs, we were able to institutionalise inclusive hiring at Regent Singapore.
- Impact — this looks at how mechanisms have been put in place to measure impact. In Regent Singapore’s context, we aim to allocate at least 5% of our workforce (15 people) to be inclusive hires and equip them to be employed for at least one year of service. We are currently on track to achieve our target by the end of 2022, with four full-time employees thriving in the departments of Finance and F&B. My journey with the Fellowship has led me to identify partners such as SG Enable, ISCOS, and Agape, which Regent Singapore could work with.
Pioneering change might seem daunting, but it is necessary for leaders and professionals to constantly think about how they can do good strategically, sustainably, and impactfully.
Inclusive hiring and recruitment may only be the beginning of operating an all-encompassing company, but it’s a promising step towards having corporate purpose embedded in your organisation’s business model.
Perhaps more importantly, it also gives us HR practitioners real solutions to solving our manpower woes, and in turn positively impacts our bottom line.