Diversity Isn’t Just Nice to Have – it’s Smart Business

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Companies have caught on to the trend of having a diverse workforce to add inclusiveness to their brand description and work culture. However, diverse hiring initiatives need to focus on who a person is and not what they identify as, with skills and talents being the number one priority.  Flight Centre Talent Acquisition Specialist, Shayna King reveals why diversity is such an important factor in the workplace.

Without a diverse range of people already studying or working in the field a company is hiring for, the balance can get tricky. Companies tend to take a “brute force” approach, either filling quotas or leaving things by the wayside. A complex shift in culture and campaigns to attain better gender balance in different fields is paramount, but equally important is there needs to be a paradigm shift to broaden employer perspectives on what a “good hire” looks like. This will help companies develop a workforce that more accurately reflects the demographic of the Australian general public.

What diverse hiring means in travel

In my experience, diversity is the natural result of wanting to provide a tailored experience to the needs of our customers. Our customers are diverse individuals with a range of needs when it comes to planning their travel - our job as agents is to be able to give them the assurance that no matter what their background, their age, their social status, we can deliver exactly what will make them happy. Diversity in our teams helps us achieve that.

For example, an older consultant helping a young customer book a Contiki backpacking trip can relate and connect with the customers' needs because they have learned what they are from the other young people who work in the organisation. Similarly, a customer looking to celebrate their retirement by taking a luxury river cruise can easily be looked after by one of our younger consultants who hasn’t yet had that life experience because there are people in our business who have, and have taken the time to share that with our team. Diversity in a business grows its collective wisdom and intelligence by adding different  views and experiences to its team.

Why recruiters need to broaden their mindsets

I’m proud to say that in Australia, we are mostly open-minded and see each other equally, regardless of race, age, gender, culture or religion. So why is it that diverse hiring remains an issue for Australian companies?

I believe one of the reasons is that people want to work with people who are like them – people they can share a beer with and enjoy common interests with. On one hand, this is a good thing because people are more likely to have a great working relationship with people who are like themselves. 

However, there’s a risk that you end up not ever a diverse workforce if you’re simply hiring more and more people who fit into the same ‘box’. As recruiters, it can be easy to fall for the illusion that someone we connect with is also a good hire with the right skills and talent. But it’s key to keep in mind that just because you get along with someone on a personal level, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the right fit for the position or business.

Looking past the illusion

Like any area of life, the more you are exposed to something, the more accepting you become of it. Work is no different. The more you get to know people from different backgrounds, the more you will be able to share your experiences together, and ultimately, create inclusiveness that starts from the ground up.

During our recruitment process at Flight Centre, we double screen every candidate resume and rotate them through four recruiters to ensure we get a holistic view of each person that comes through our doors. We also have activities that simulate the role of a travel consultant with clear expectations and benchmarks for performance. Although it may seem like a convoluted process, we do it ensure we are hiring candidates based on their ability and weeding out bias.

We celebrate our differences. As a woman and ‘minority’ employee myself, my favourite part about working at Flight Centre is that I am taken at face value for the work that I do, regardless of my background.

We’re looking for people from all walks of life to join us as travel sales consultants! Check out our job opportunities here.

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