Get flexible to attract diverse talent to your business

Published: 20 October 2020
Author: James Chapman

Diversity insights from Dee Jas, Founder of Colourfull

Many employers are keen to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace as well as staying ahead of game in the search for talent. But are both attainable with a single policy change? Dee Jas, Founder of diversity and inclusion consultancy colourfull shared four key ways to get the most out of your search for talent.

1.Give the talent what they want

Let’s get real

Looking at a range of societal shifts, such as demographics (age, gender etc.) and technology, not to mention a certain pandemic, the need for flexibility in the workplace is ever increasing. According to this study, 9 out 10 people want some form of flexible working in their future.

The new normal

We’ve been conditioned to see the ‘normal’ job as a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, measured on presenteeism vs. outcomes. This is a dated approach and restricts talent. So, we need to unlearn how work is done and where it’s done, along with a healthy dose of trust in the people that you’ve hired. To paraphrase Steve Jobs ‘hire smart people and get out of their way’.

Embrace the flex!

Being able to design jobs and think about work differently means you widen the talent pool immediately across many factors including location, age, life stage, gender and even ethnicity as a starting point. It allows individuals across these groups to find the right work–life balance, recognising there are different needs and requirements for each of these distinct groups. Flexing is the way to go!

2.Flexible and part-time working is a win-win for business

Early career vs experience –  maximise both

If we think about generational diversity, different age groups have different needs and preferences. Looking at younger talent coming through, their expectations of work and how they like to work is markedly different to someone like me! They value flexibility and jobs that offer a high degree of choice and autonomy will help you tap into this distinct group – and retain them.

The other end of the spectrum are older workers who may be approaching retirement and wish to phase this stage of their career. Being able to design flexible work and/or re-examine part-time working can be a great way to transfer critical knowledge and skills and the wisdom of experience for those approaching the end of their career.

Working Parents

Through the lens of gender, we know that one of the reasons we have struggled to close the gender pay gap is due to the lack of women in leadership roles. By starting with a flexible design approach to roles and work, you can widen the talent pool for women – especially during pregnancy and after maternity/parental leave. Being able to tap into this experienced talent pool is key is vital in building a pipeline for leadership roles. This is a critical juncture and we have not yet caught up with how we design work for this target group despite the business benefits for doing so.

Gigs are here to stay!

Finally, the concept of the side hustle is well and truly here. We’re in an age of entrepreneurialism and research by Udemy tells us that over 50% of those who are people of colour are likely to have a side hustle (as well as other demographic groups). Rather than forcing people to make binary choices, designing work in a flexible way offers new ways to attract and retain this emerging pool of talent across the workforce.

3.Restructure jobs to attract more diverse talent

A good approach is to think less about the type of person you want for a role but focus on the purpose of the role itself. Here are five questions to ask yourself as you design flexible roles and to truly challenge the way we think about work:

  1. What are the actual outputs of the role, and how would you measure them?
  2. Where does this role truly need to be based for it to work effectively?
  3. Review the responsibilities and tasks – has there been scope creep, where work could be done better elsewhere in the organisation? What are the priority tasks?
  4. Who are the key stakeholders for the role (customers, client, colleagues) and what are their needs? They may not be the same as yours.
  5. How will the role work with your team? No role exists in isolation and it works within a system. Their feedback can help with creative thinking and ensure any flexible design is successful.

4. Be a brand that promotes a diverse message

Beyond promoting your commitment to consider flexibility or advertising it as a default in your job advertisements, your employer brand must also reflect your commitment to diversity, inclusion and flexibility.

Your brand should speak for itself and with numerous channels to share content and create impact (LinkedIn, Glassdoor to name a few). A proactive approach will help you appeal to various candidates. What proactive messages can you feed into the talent market that will signal to them your approach to flexibility? What stories can you share about how working flexibly has helped you retain talent, addressed diversity challenges and enabled business performance?

Recruiter-on-Demand says …

By making jobs more flexible and part-time, you automatically open the door to a broader mix of talent that is both highly skilled as well as those from under-represented groups. That seems well worth a serious discussion with the senior leadership team and hiring managers. Unconscious bias could be your next hurdle, but we’ll cover that in another post!

About colourfull
Dee Jas (he/him) founded colourfull (part-consultancy, part-media platform) in 2018 to focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Dee has held in-house HR leadership roles which also encompassed talent acquisition. This experience is invaluable to the way he works with clients to provide practical advice. Visit:

About Recruiter-on-Demand
At Recruiter on Demand, we truly get the culture of our clients and have experience of recruiting with diversity and inclusion in mind. If you need additional in-house talent acquisition specialists on very flexible contracts, contact James Chapman on 01273 974 030. If he can’t help you, he probably knows someone, like Dee, who can!