Asif Upadhye, Director & Dark Knight, Never Grow Up

Asif Upadhye is a Director and Dark Knight at Never Grow Up, a Work Culture Consultancy with turnkey capabilities in areas of Employer Branding, Employee Insights & Well-being. With over a decade of experience in the HR domain & backed by a practical understanding of organisational culture building, leadership training and employee experience at large, he hopes to revolutionise the work culture domain, one happy employee at a time.


We’re already six months into 2021 and the corporate sector is still witnessing a strong wave of awareness on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), a trend that has been carried over from 2020. It begs the question then, are your hiring practices and policies framed in a truly inclusive manner? Especially when hiring posts are often drafted somewhat like this –

Positions open only to women, the LGBTQ+ community and PwDs.”

What’s the first thought that comes to mind when you read such a disclaimer on a job post? Is the recruiter trying to be diverse, or is it another attempt at showing positive numbers on a sheet?

While there are various technical factors that determine D&I recruiting trends, this article covers the future course that recruitment will shift towards and how companies can best prepare for it.

Practicing What You Preach

It’s no secret that too many organizations focus on fulfilling mandates instead of truly creating a diverse workforce that is also inclusive. If companies across geographies boast about their diversity ratio, why are leadership roles in corporate India still dominated by men? Leadership representation by minority groups seems to be considered only in accordance with Indian regulation wherein companies have to have at least one woman on the board and at least 5% of the entire workforce comprising people with disabilities.

If your hiring posts have the “Equal Employer” tag, live by it and truly work towards creating equal opportunities that are inclusive of everyone. If you change your brand logo every June, then also ensure that your company really does support the professionals from the LGBTQ+ community! And if you’re a global company that does this, ensure your efforts are maintained across countries, not only in a selective few. This year turned out to be a real eye-opener for companies as they were called out for their performative support during Pride month. While this example specifically relates to being a true ally of the LGBTQ+ community, it in fact highlights how the corporate sector often tends to ride the topical bandwagon without being genuine in their efforts.

It’s easy to identify how society is beginning to influence certain employment policies and practices in the corporate sector across the globe. D&I recruitment has evolved from being a mere strategic move, to a social movement that enforces real change.

Acknowledging the Fight for Recognition

While the pandemic continues to rage across the world, we continue to witness various protests for equal recognition in society and in the employment sector. Black Lives Matter, Stop Asian Hate, the yearly Pride parades; with all of these and more, people are being more vocal about the lack of representation in leadership positions – Positions that are deemed to bring about a positive shift in society at large.

The ferociousness of this fight for recognition has peaked to the extent that organizations cannot turn a blind eye to the reality of the situation. Some companies began providing financial aid towards small businesses that were owned and managed by people of colour, while some upped their hiring practices to ensure they empowered a community with fair career opportunities. In this context, statistics from a LinkedIn survey holds true – almost 73% of HR professionals belonging to APAC regions believe that diversity will play a major role in defining future recruiting trends.

Recruiting to Uplift

Candidates bring so much more to a company than just skill. The diversity of thought and action that is drawn from one’s unique life experiences also add great value in building an inclusive work environment. The rapid introduction of digital work tools has pushed hiring practices towards taking a complete 180-degree turn. With such technological advancements, HR teams and talent heads can no longer ignore people with disabilities, single parents, new moms and others with eldercare responsibilities, as eligible employees.

Moreover, the sudden call for remote working in 2020 reiterated the earnest appeal of such talent – work can be done from anywhere! This has opened the doors to a wider section of untapped talent brimming with unique ideas and perspectives. When companies make such hires on a regular basis and not to meet mandates, an entire section of society is uplifted. It’s a reminder that differences or what we society views as shortcomings of an individual don’t actually affect output.

Giving back to society in the form of CSR is not enough to be viewed as an employer who stands for sustainability and societal empowerment. Ethics and values are being used as parameters to define a company as a suitable employer for Gen Z. Millennials too are beginning to prefer an employer who walks the talk. And with technology acting as an equalizer, the talent race is going to be about catching the most inspired, and not skilled. For skills can be taught, but an inspired employee can unleash creativity and productivity like no other!

For companies that use AI as the first level of application filtering, it is imperative to regularly feed such hiring tools with clean and large data. Although automated, these tools do tend to mirror human behaviour to an extent considering the number of special filters employed to “pick out” diverse talent. The use of AI in recruiting is an advantage as it saves time but it’s not the most reliable method. Therefore, to reduce any form of prejudice on the part of technology and human behaviour, the foundation of hiring needs to be relooked at constantly. Only then can one trust technological and human efforts in bridging the diversity gap.

And so, while the future of recruitment is going to be a social movement, let’s play our cards right to truly build a diverse and inclusive workforce. Sounds too good to be true? It’s actually more achievable than one would imagine. If we’ve reached this point in recognising the importance of DE&I in every corporate action and decision, then let’s ensure that it’s only onwards and upwards from here!

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