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Women in business champion

Q&A with Josh Graff

Josh GraffJosh Graff, LinkedIn UK country manager, believes that, like any good party, everyone should be invited to the board table, and given the chance to prove they belong, without bias or hindrance.






What benefits have you seen at LinkedIn from having more diverse teams?

Diversity in business has had a huge impact, both on me personally, and on the teams that I have been part of. Research shows us that when it comes to choosing a place to work, employees are looking very closely at the culture and values of the organisation, and in particular how they approach diversity.

But, diversity alone doesn’t cut it – you could hire by a quota but you wouldn’t have built an effective team. It is the steps businesses take after that matter: they have to create a culture of inclusion, and a feeling of belonging. For me, diversity is holding a party where everyone is welcome. Inclusion is receiving an invitation. Belonging is having the confidence to dance at the party like nobody’s watching.

I distinctly remember when I finally had the confidence to come out as a gay man at work, how it increased my productivity, how it strengthened my relationships with clients and colleagues, how it helped me to become a more compassionate leader and most importantly, how it made work more fun.

How can diversity data be used to drive a change in business culture?

As part of our commitment to creating and building a more diverse workforce, we publish our annual global Workforce Diversity Report, and here in EMEA we’ve also begun running anonymous annual diversity surveys to enable our teams to self-identify, enabling us to measure our progress over time.

The insights are helpful but the output must be action. Our diversity report revealed a shortfall of female leadership. So, in 2014 we introduced WiN, a managed training programme for our high performing, high potential female talent. This course addresses some of the issues that surround and prevent women securing more senior roles. And while there’s always more to be done, we can see that it’s working – women now represent 39.1% of our company’s leadership, a massive increase of 49% over the last four years.

How can interview bias be eliminated?

The fact is that we all carry some form of unconscious bias - and accepting that is the first step to solving it - but it can be incredibly hard to reverse certain expectations or ways of thinking. It follows, of course, that such bias affects the hiring process. If a leader hiring for a role has an unconscious expectation that the new employee will be male, the signals sent to women about their suitability for the role will distort the playing field even before the interview process has begun.

This is why it’s important to tackle these biases head on. Business leaders must look at the candidates being interviewed and insist that they see a good mix of diverse candidates as part of the process.

At LinkedIn we’ve introduced a gender aware recruitment process, meaning that for every job we hire for we have a balanced candidate slate at the start of recruitment, women candidates are included in the shortlist, and we have gender balanced interview panels meeting the candidates. Practical processes like this, alongside bias awareness training, can help transform the interview process in the experience of the candidate.

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