Diversity refers to the composition of the workforce in regards to groups to which individuals will identify with, these may be observable or non-observable characteristics but are usually associated with ethnic, racial, cultural, age, sexuality and gender groups.
Selection systems that an organisation employs in order to recruit new employees have a dramatic affect on the demographic diversity of the workforce that is employed by the organisation. The choices that an organisation makes in regards to recruitment strategies, choice of selection system design and the implementation of chosen selection tools can affect workplace diversity and must be considered careful in regards to future directions.
In 1987 Schneider introduced a concept of Attraction-Selection- Attrition (the ASA Model) to explain how workplace diversity outcomes are a direct result of the people that work for the organisation. In the first place, potential recruits will self select themselves in regards to whether they think the organisation is somewhere that they wish to work, or rather that they are attracted to as a potential workplace. In regards to attrition, individual’s will self-select themselves to leave the organisation if they feel that they do not fit into the organisational setting. Attrition among certain groups may indicate that workplace diversity is affected by attrition caused by diversity perspectives.
Those involved in the selection process will impact workplace diversity because they make decisions on whom to select based on whether potential employees are ‘like me.’ This may be because they are searching for people who exhibit a cultural fit with the organisation but also because of subconscious psychological routines that attribute characteristics that involve splitting those who ‘are right’ and those who ‘are not right.’ The process may not be conscious or a result of direct discrimination, designed to have an adverse impact on a particular minority group, but the selection system may result in indirect discrimination because the attributes that are designed into the selection process exclude those of a particular minority group. For example, certain jobs are gendered, jobs for women and jobs for men, resulting in horizontal segregation. Scientists are ‘male’ and nurses are ‘female.’
Therefore selection processes and the design of selection systems are themselves important in driving how diverse the organisation is and will improve or inhibit diversity in the workplace.
The important measure of organisation development of selection systems is to ensure that there is no unjustified adverse impact within the selection system and to evaluate the outcomes at an organisational level to understand the impact of particular elements in the selection system.
In 2002 Murphy suggested that introducing a selection criterion that specifically measured the reduction on adverse impact was important if organisational leadership wanted to change the diversity in their workplace. This means that organisations must take a ‘differences’ approach to selection and treat different groups differently in making recruitment decisions.
This decision would need to run throughout the selection process, for the source of the pool of candidates chosen to participate in the selection decision through to test score banding to reduce the adverse impact on ethnic minorities from traditional selection tools as cognitive ability tests, which have a small by significant adverse impact on ethnic groups which cannot be justified and is unacceptable.
The same consideration will also be required in assessing for talent management programmes, access to learning and development, and with increased relevance during an economic downturn selection for redundancy.
Many factors contribute to the diversity of the workplace, many of which are outside the control of an organisation, however the choice of tools to use in selection processes and the implementation can be measured, changed and developed to increase diversity in the workplace. An Organisations Values will affect the choices that the organisation make in this regard.