Media Release - 7th May 2018


                  New Research Recruiters, Take A Risk on Diversity

  • Recruiters not “risking” non-traditional candidates

  • Deeper level character attributes should be weighted more heavily

  • Key actions to help organisations recruit diverse talent


New research through Sydney University found that atypical candidates are falling at the first hurdle, because recruiters are not putting them forward. The view shared by research participants is that atypical candidates, that is, those not perceived to fit a certain job profile including women for trade, IT, engineering, finance and managerial roles is not worth the risk.


Organisations that do not encourage their recruiters to broaden their selection criteria methods are consequently missing out on unique employees who could add considerable cultural value to the organisation. This is particularly worrisome since many roles are perceived to be difficult to fill, yet there are individuals who sit outside the mold, who could fill these potential vacancies if given the opportunity.


The research conducted by Theaanna Kiaos, Managing Director of Diversity First, found that outdated selection criteria methods had produced homogenous teams in some departments because when the job briefs had been given to recruiters, the job briefs outlined the same level of experience and qualifications over and over.

“We need to look beyond the superficial characteristics of candidates and look at the untapped potential instead of putting people in pigeon-holes all the time. It does require a bit of lateral thinking. A diverse workforce cultivates diversity of thought, whereby new ideas can be explored ultimately challenging the status quo which is exactly what we need in a 21st century workplace culture that is lacking in innovation. When we have diversity embedded within the workplace culture, positive outcomes transpire, but workforce diversity should also be carried out systematically”


The research involved Government organisations, private corporations and Not-For Profits to discuss their perceptions of diversity and inclusion within their workplace culture. Findings were also compared across organisations within the study. Some organisations showed that very basic diversity initiatives were lacking, including homogenous interview panels and unbiased decision-making during the recruitment process.


Four major themes resulted for diversity perceptions including: lack of diversity frameworks, leveraging cognitive diversity, workforce demographics and societal change as well as how organisations could increase their performance in recruiting for diversity, the most former and latter proving to be a particularly problematic areas for most participating organisations.


With regards to the former, organisations aren’t systematically implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives based on a framework or model. Ad-hoc initiatives are common, instead of thorough diagnostic evaluation tools to determine or ascertain definitively what is really needed to dramatically increase the integration of diversity and inclusion within the organisations culture. With regards to the latter, recruiter’s actions are only one part of the puzzle, business leaders and human resource departments need to do their part and look beyond what’s written on paper when assessing candidates as well. A broader approach when sourcing talent is what is needed.

“Think about the collective Australian demography and then consider those individuals within our population who have the biggest challenges in life and then think about how much skill and learning it takes to get through those life challenges. These are the people that need to be put forward more often for jobs, the ones who have proved their struggle, survived and thrived. Anyone who has struggled has probably had to think creatively to get through their life problems and they are the ones you should look to hire more often. Perhaps it is time to think a little deeper about the types of people that start the race way behind the starting line.

“Resilience is needed to perform well at any job, struggle often brings out the best in people because we are hard wired to survive. The trouble is, In most cases, atypical candidates that have survived some of life’s biggest challenges often lack experience in jobs further up the corporate ladder, but have the resilience to learn and adapt pretty well, which is what you need in an economic environment that is in a constant state of flux.

“Aside from highly specialised roles, most advertised positions require long lengths of candidate experience when in reality, the skills and capabilities of most positions could be learned fairly well within a few months working on the job. Looking at the job requirements objectively and making an educated decision about what is required from a credential and experience perspective could change the applicant base as well”

There are a few key actions organisations can do to make hiring diverse talent easier.


1.HR should challenge the brief and push for a diverse panel when interviewing as a way to reduce unconscious bias.

2. Job ads should be written in a way that encourages diverse candidates to apply including conscious language style and word choice. Efforts to decrease the psychological barriers for non-traditional candidates is fundamental to increase the diversity of candidates during the recruitment process.


3. Deep level character attributes espoused by the candidate including honesty, integrity, reliability and performance consistency – this should be weighted more heavily, whilst also considering the candidate’s untapped potential. Also, consider hiring based on congruent values.


Last but not least, work with talent consultancies that integrate hires into their new workplaces, like Diversity First, that assist candidates be set up for success. Monitor their integration and find out what the barriers are and rectify them.


Diversity First PTY Limited

Level 32, 101 Miller Street NORTH SYDNEY, NSW 2060 02 8019 7229

For interviews and high-resolution images, please contact: Theaanna Kiaos +61 451 574 900.

Theaanna Kiaos is the Managing Director of Diversity First PTY Limited and is the creator of InCulture® a model of Organisational Culture, Diversity and Inclusion.

Diversity First provides consulting solutions to businesses of all sizes and of all sectors in matters pertaining to organisational culture, diversity and inclusion.

​Uniquely qualified, Theaanna has researched crganisational culture through Sydney University, holds a masters in Health Communication and an undergraduate in Psychology. She is also a qualified Change Management Consultant.

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