Diversity begins with inclusive recruitment strategies. Kiwibank tells us how, and why increasing diversity ultimately benefits employers.
The last few decades have sprouted a growing awareness of the ways in which identity shapes the way we interact with the world. With this growing awareness comes an acknowledgement that lived experiences create a skillset that can be invaluable to a workplace. Cultural nuances, gender identity and expression, religion, sexuality, disability, and the very ways in which our minds work – each of these facets work together to create a unique understanding of our world, and therefore unique strengths.
That’s why Kiwibank is looking at how they can harness the power of diversity in their teams through updated recruitment practices, so they can better reflect the customers they serve. When done correctly, a commitment to improving diversity can strengthen workplace culture, create strong teams and deliver impressive business outcomes by anticipating and meeting a diverse customer base with a diverse team.
Yet, without proper care and a deep look at existing systems and processes, the concept of diversity and inclusion could remain buzzwords without meaningful change. And without meaningful change, workplaces risk losing out on the best candidates from inequitable hiring practices.
Kiwibank recruitment manager Maddock Price says that’s an issue they’re acutely aware of. The company’s overall diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) goal is to be reflective of customers and communities across Aotearoa. For the past few years, talent recruitment has been “really, really tough”, says Price. “Diversity, equity and inclusion guidelines are a really important lever to overcome that issue.”
For Price, modelling hiring practices and processes around DE&I is about ensuring a wider range of people can and are encouraged to apply for jobs. Part of that is around language and imagery. When recruitment materials themselves are inclusive, people are able to see themselves in those roles, said Price.
One example Price used was the way job listings themselves were structured. In some cases, an ultra-specific and long list of bullet-point requirements could actually work against a recruiter’s interests, said Price.
“There’s really clear data that shows women will look to tick all of those bullet points before they apply, whereas men who don’t tick all the boxes will apply anyway. So how do you reduce those bullet points to make it more inclusive?
“It sounds simple, but it’s really effective. If you do that consistently, you’re not compromising what you actually need for the role, but you’re making it a more attractive role for people to apply for.”
Price noted that ultimately, the principles of inclusivity in hiring are simple: how do you make a role easy for an applicant to apply for? What barriers can be removed to ensure that people from all walks of life could apply?
One area in which Kiwibank hopes to break down barriers is through their sponsorship of Brain Badge, an initiative with a goal to help workplaces become more suitable for neurodiverse workforces. In recruitment, that looks like creating flexible interview arrangements and ensuring the application process is generally more accessible.
As a first step, Price has introduced an option where candidates can indicate their support needs at the application stage. Price says the aim is to then be able to tailor the recruitment process to a candidate’s needs.
Various examples include a flexible interview process. Some candidates may struggle with a traditional one-on-one interview, Price points out. Giving them options such as a video response application gives employers a chance to “see the best of candidates,” which is ultimately in their best interest.
Price says they’re currently also looking at how to diversify their application process.
“For example, if you’re someone with dyslexia, and you struggle with creating a CV, we want to be able to give them an option to talk to a video about themselves.”
Price says that’s a way off yet, but for now, Kiwibank is focusing on easy changes. After a recent meeting with the Disabled Persons Assembly NZ (DPA), Price says simple things like using Word Documents instead of PDFs can make job applications more accessible for potential candidates. That’s because screen readers can struggle with PDF documents, so for a candidate who is blind or has low vision, PDF job descriptions and documents can create a significant barrier.
But removing barriers for candidates is only one part of the equation, notes Price. Another piece of the puzzle is ensuring that hiring panels themselves are diverse, and ensuring that the voices of those on the panels are valued equally. That begins with having a minimum diversity standard, and decentralising the hiring process so that individuals feel heard and valued. And that continues with ensuring that the principles of DE&I are carried past the hiring process itself.
Charlotte Ward, chief people officer at Kiwibank, says that since she’s come on board, one of her imperatives was to have conversations with existing employees around the culture of the company. That included consultation with the special groups within the company, such as Kiwibank’s Pride, Māori and Women’s networks. That’s where the new DE&I policy comes from in the first place, said Ward – a drive to ensure that the company culture is focused towards inclusion and positive change.
That means that past the hiring level, those principles of inclusion and diversity are carried on throughout company culture. It’s a distinction that Ward is very proud of.
“We’re trying to create a culture where diversity, equity and inclusion is integrated into everything we do, versus just a policy focus. It’s an important distinction because culture is something we create everyday together whereas policy is something we might not look at very often.”
By looking at their existing processes, ensuring key stakeholders are heard, and making simple changes, Price says Kiwibank has already had a number of success stories in the recruitment space. And they’ve had positive feedback on the new policy too, says Price, especially once stakeholders understand the intent and effect of the DE&I framework.
“If you’ve got more candidates to choose from, from different diversity of backgrounds, you’re clearly going to find the best person for the role. Sometimes people think I’m trying to put roadblocks on them from hiring people, but it’s actually the other way.
“We want to be as inclusive to everybody as possible, which gives us a really broad potential pool of people, then we can make the best decisions for the role from there.”