Understanding the barriers to diversity in the recruitment process


While there has been significant progress towards a more inclusive workforce, there are many challenges still to be conquered before the employment landscape becomes truly equal. In many cases it’s not finding the job that’s the issue, but rather the opportunities for advancement.

People need equal opportunity to advance.

The ability to rise through the ranks is an essential facet of engagement for any employee, but it’s even more important to ensure these paths are fostering diversity in a company’s leadership team. Whether it’s through updated recruitment software or a new organisational structure, the key to an inclusive workforce involves much more than simply hiring a more diverse range of team members. Instead, they need to have equal opportunities to advance.

The three types of gender diversity barriers

In a recent report, McKinsey & Company found there are three main models which show how diverse talent is prevented from advancing to the higher echelons of an organisation. These are:

  • Unable to enter – These are industries or job types where women simply never enter the workforce, let alone have options for career growth.
  • Stuck at the middle – Women make up a significant proportion of entry level positions, but rarely reach higher than director or senior managers.
  • Locked out of the top – There are a number of high ranking women, but admission to the C-Suite is still a rare occurrence.

The paths that organisations will need to take to ensure the ongoing diversity of their teams at every level alters depending on which of the above three situations best describe their structure. These range from refocusing on the talent that makes up middle management and ensuring it’s being used effectively, and whether or not mentoring programs could have a positive effect.

What’s the key to diversity in an organisation?

What’s happening in Australia?

Both PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Hays Recruitment recently addressed the issue of gender diversity in the Australian workforce. One of the positive facts illuminated in the Hays report is that there is very little difference in the ambition for senior positions in the workplace between men and women.

One area for improvement noted by Managing Director of Hays Nick Deligiannis is the the ability to promote ones’ self with confidence.

“When only half of women feel they have the opportunity to self-promote and communicate their ambitions, employers must do more to ensure opportunities are communicated to all and recognise and draw out the skills and ambitions of those around them,” he explained.

In PwC’s Women in Work Index, Australia is still being outclassed in this area by European countries such as Iceland, Norway and Sweden, the current top three.

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