Why do diverse talent pipelines enhance performance?

Elle Robinson our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 25 January 2024

It’s simple: a diverse workplace culture attracts more talent and enhances the overall performance and adaptability of an organisation. But simply hiring external talent from underrepresented backgrounds isn’t enough. If that’s all you’re doing, you’re missing the diversity of talent you already have in your business.

For example, a recent diverse leadership programme we designed and delivered saw us increase confidence levels in participants by over 60% when it came to applying for more senior roles with a third of those getting promoted to date.

To drive real business success, you must implement robust  succession planning and nurture the diversity you have to become your future leaders, as we did with the diverse leadership programme. This will help you create a culture that thrives on the richness of the varied perspectives, skills and experiences diversity brings.

When you prioritise a diverse talent pipeline, you lay the groundwork for financial success, enhanced innovation and better competitiveness.

So why, in 2024, are we still seeing a lack of diversity in senior positions?

Common headwinds for diverse talent

Diverse talent often encounter formidable headwinds throughout their careers:

  • A lack of visible role models creates a lack of relatable success stories, hindering diverse individuals from envisioning themselves in or applying for senior positions.
  • Perceptions of confidence may be skewed, with assertiveness from diverse candidates sometimes unfairly labelled as aggression. For example, women get 2.5 times more feedback than men about being aggressive in their communication style.
  • Limited access to key roles and high-profile opportunities, often exacerbated by leaders recruiting in their own image, perpetuating a cycle of exclusion and diverse individuals needing to put in extra effort to reach senior positions, with assumptions often overshadowing their capabilities.
  • Cultural differences and being outside the 'in' group reduces visibility and creates barriers to networking, mentorship, and sponsorship opportunities.
  • The prevalence of 'who you know, not what you know' disadvantages those from different backgrounds, leading to them being underestimated, overlooked and under-valued.

Overcoming these systemic challenges necessitates a concerted effort from businesses to foster inclusivity by nurturing a diverse talent pipeline.

Benefits of diverse pipelines

There is a clear fiscal advantage of diversifying your pipeline. An inclusive workplace with robust succession planning is linked to higher employee engagement and retention. In turn, this reduces turnover costs - by 22%, according to this Deloitte study.

The same study found that companies that nurture diverse talent are 22% more productive and 27% more profitable, highlighting the link between diversity and financial performance.

Having a diverse talent pipeline is also imperative to business performance. Employees who feel that their company is committed to diversity are 83% more innovative, while from a board perspective, 64% of surveyed IoD members agree that board diversity is crucial to driving business success.

But the pièce de résistance of investing in a diverse talent and creating a more diverse culture is that it future proofs your business by attracting more talent to your organisation. People are more likely to seek employment with and remain loyal to companies that value and respect their unique contributions, irrespective of their background.

For instance, 83% of Gen Z candidates say that a company’s devotion to diversity, equity and inclusion is a crucial factor for choosing where to work. Demonstrating your commitment to a diverse work culture will make you more appealing to these purpose-driven workers - and with Gen Z set to make up the majority of the global workforce by 2025, it's time to start attracting them now.

Dedicating resources to nurturing your existing employees into your future leaders ultimately ensures you have diversity at every level. Not only does this improve your reputation and ability to innovate, it also sharpens your competitive edge and means gaps can be quickly closed if a key employee or senior leader departs unexpectedly - a likelihood that every business should prepare for, with 53% of employees set to leave their current company in 2024.

Where do you start?

In the not-so-distant past,  diversity programs have often failed because they were just adaptations of outdated approaches.

In 2024, organisations need to be more intentional about building and sustaining a diverse pipeline. This requires a holistic approach to attracting, retaining and mobilising diverse talent.

We’re often asked by clients where to start so here are 5 tips to consider, depending on where you are currently on your journey:

  • Clearly define your diversity goals and make them an integral part of your organisation's people strategy. Regularly track and report on your diversity metrics and celebrate successes in meeting diversity goals. Remember: what gets measured gets done.
  • Mentorship & sponsorship programmes – connect diverse employees with senior leaders who can guide, support and open up opportunities for them. Create opportunities for them to raise their visibility and broaden their network in other ways too.
  • Promote flexible work arrangements and inclusivity in policies to support a diverse range of employees who may have different needs and preferences.
  • Invest in empowerment programmes designed to attract diverse talent, increase confidence, help individuals overcome barriers and identify skills for further development.
  • Ensure your recruitment practices are inclusive – e.g. job descriptions are free of language that might discourage diverse groups from applying and offering thoughtful benefits.

These initiatives must be grounded by continuous feedback and improvement.

How Hanover can help

At Hanover, we understand the importance of attracting and retaining diverse talent. Our development programmes have helped hundreds of organisations build robust and diverse talent pipelines, helping them to unlock potential in individuals and teams, for a stronger and more resilient workforce.

We’re also experts at empowering diverse talent to aim for senior positions. Through interactive workshops, practical masterclasses, and coaching.

Our goal is to fuel your organisation’s future growth and empower your talent to step into more senior roles. If you’d like to know more,  contact me today.

Get to know our team
by selecting your area of interest: