Want to Drive Diversity? Start by Reducing Toxic Workplace Behavior

Now more than ever, diversity and inclusion has become one of the hottest conversations across the HR landscape. While perhaps being a pursuit worthy for its own sake, a growing body of research shows that companies with diverse top teams enjoy higher returns--as much as a 14% higher EBIT than those with the least diverse teams and have up to 53% higher ROE, according to McKinsey.

So how can a company attract a more diverse pool of candidates?

Create ideal working conditions

Despite efforts from the EEOC to prevent discrimination in the workplace, more than 60% of the American workforce has experienced some sort of discrimination in the workplace. “Employees must feel comfortable bringing their full selves to work, without the fear of prejudice or ridicule, whether intentional or not,” says Chief People Officer Carina Cortez of Glassdoor. (In the same survey, hiring for diversity and inclusion specialists shot up 30%.) In other words, diversity means nothing without an inclusive culture, and that’s often the root of the problem. For example, in law industry, the National Association of Legal Placement found that the attrition rate for male associates of color is 42% within 28 months and 78% within 55 months, due largely in part due to a lack of equitable practices (i.e. being shut out of career-advancing opportunities, a culture of exclusivity, and no representation at the top to advocate for their ideas and needs).

In order to attract and retain a diverse talent pool, companies--like Cortez mentions--must create the ideal working conditions for that particular talent pool, namely, inclusivity. For diversity, it’s a non-starter that the biggest stressor and reasons to leave is discrimination and intolerance due to an exclusive or homogenous culture. One of the quickest ways to begin chipping away at this seemingly overwhelming obstacle is to screen incoming candidates at all levels for intolerant behavior via social media screening. As a company proceeds through a natural turnover process, HR managers can organically weed out harmful behavior by screening all new hires for potentially problematic behavior across multiple categories.

Level the playing field

One of the biggest inhibitors facing HR managers striving for more diverse, more equitable workplaces is what to do when a candidate has a criminal record. When one in three adult Americans already has a criminal record, HR managers are having to grapple with losing out on a significant talent pool and the biases that current pre-hire screening processes present. Luckily, according to a recent SHRM study, HR managers in the US are willing to hire a candidate with a record under the right circumstances. And yet, the losses in the labor market due to felony convictions are still significant (estimated at about $78 billion). A felony conviction still reduces a candidate’s chances of a callback by 50%, and men with criminal records account for 34% of all non-working males between ages 25 to 54.

In an age of information, documentation, and compliance, it doesn’t make sense for most HR professionals to simply throw out their criminal background check processes. However, HR managers are reaching for a method to balance their criminal checks with a secondary accountability mechanism. When HR managers incorporate social media screening into their pre-hire workflow, they have the opportunity to weigh a candidate’s criminal background check against their online behavior.

Social Intel’s method of social media screening, with its decade-long tenure as a safe and efficient way of weeding out toxic behavior, doesn’t have a loaded history of biased decisions. Our machine-learning technology has had a decade to mature and self-correct and is constantly learning and evolving with changes in language, and our quality-control checks ensure that human intelligence has the last say on highly-sensitive, easily-misinterpreted content. Consequently, social media background checks don’t discriminate and are useful in weeding out toxic behavior across the board while also helping to level the playing field by providing supplementary information that can be used to balance findings on a criminal report. As our reports scrub protected-class information, we are also able to deliver bias-free reports to help companies preserve their unbiased opinion in the hiring process.

Toxic workplace culture is already the reason one in five people leave their workplace, with poor management being cited as another significant contributor to that decision. Coupled with a need for diversity at all management levels, HR managers have the opportunity to effectively accomplish two things at once that both have potential to help the bottom line: drive diversity and elevate their company culture.