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Exclusion by Design

09.07.21 | Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are important terms in recruitment and HR and they are getting more and more government attention. Age discrimination, ethnic discrimination, and gender discrimination are all problems that occur in recruiting and should be addressed. One of the major issues is that it’s usually unconscious exclusion, for example because of the photos and words used in our content.

Let me give you some examples of the effects that have been achieved with inclusive, and diversified, advertising and translate that to content used for talent pipelines.

The examples of diversified advertising I would like to use come from an award-winning campaign to recruit security staff at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Their success was built on the personalisation of both the visual as well as the text and the landing pages of the ads served mainly on Facebook.

They found that people with what we call “a non-western migration background” were under the impression they would not be welcome, even though the opposite was the case. They also found that the main motivation for wanting a job at airport security within this grouped different by age. The younger men loved the good pay, the older men loved it because they looked good in a uniform. So, they built different ads to cater to both categories, targeting on age, with a different message and a different person on the photo. The targeting on the ethnic background was done by targeting people with interests (likes) specific to those backgrounds. Of course, the native Dutch were not excluded, but they were served a different ad, with a photo that looked like them, whether male or female, with again a text suited to their reasons for wanting this job. Women in their 30s and 40s loved this job because of the flexible working hours and the fact that, unlike in Dutch healthcare, schedules are made not just a week in advance. So, they were targeted with ads showing a women and texts that emphasized the flexibility and the part-time working opportunities.

The effect was amazing. They ended up hiring 1.513 people in 14 months at a cost lower than ever before at this organisation.

On top of that, the organisation has become much more diverse on both ethnic backgrounds as age. Because of the campaign there are now more than 80 different social-cultural groups working at the organisation.

The did not exclude a single category of people, but they did serve different messages to different groups, making every group feel welcome. In advertising, most organisations tend to use one ad to rule them all. I call this the vanilla ad, something average that doesn’t offend anyone, but doesn’t really appeal to any specific category either. Usually accompanied with a photo of a white man and woman, sometimes with a third person of colour.

Content and Talent Pipelines

When it comes to talent pipelines we offer a lot of content. Content about working at our organisation. Content about the training opportunities. Ask yourself, how diverse is your content? Is it written by people of the same age group? The same ethnicity? The same sex? Chances are it is and they do address the issues they like and consider important. To go back to the ‘security guard example’, I would have never thought that ‘looking good in uniform’ could be a selling point for the job for certain people.

We just don’t know what we don’t know.

So, if we are looking at talent pipelines and we are using content to attract people to our talent community, we need to ask ourselves if our content is written from different perspectives. Are we writing content targeted at the likes of all groups? We shouldn’t just write ‘vanilla content’, we should product content with specific groups in mind. Write for young women, write for young mothers, write for women that might want to re-enter the workforce. We should produce content focussed on people of different ethnic backgrounds and actually have people from these backgrounds produce this content. Use images that fit these audiences.

Creating talent pipelines is based on creating great content. But great content is different for different people. That’s why we have a ‘men’s health’ and ‘woman’s health’ magazine, for example. So in order to create and maintain a diverse talent pipeline, we need to start by creating diverse content using people of different ages, sexes and ethnicity to write or vlog.

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