Inspiration from the Lions: strength in diversity

I’m excited to watch the match tonight when the Lions take on the Blues. As touring partners, we’ve seen first-hand how the Lions have recruited a diverse group of individuals to form the team for this series.

In many ways, the Lions’ approach mirrors the way employers should go about securing diverse talent for their own organisations. By recruiting people from different backgrounds at all levels of seniority, employers gain access to a variety of skills and perspectives, which greatly improves the prospects for innovation within the business.

In the words of former Lions player Richard Hill, who is the England Rugby Team Manager off the pitch: “It’s about creating an instant bond and being able to merge different cultures and personalities.” 

Developing a game plan

Today, it’s widely accepted that a diverse workforce benefits the bottom line, but the majority of employers still don’t have a strategy in place to source, attract and implement diversity. And recent Robert Walters surveys in New Zealand show that gender and age discrimination are still prevalent in many workplaces.

A strategy to build a diverse workforce must start from within. That means encouraging collaboration between team members from diverse backgrounds and, importantly, celebrating the results that are achieved through this. That sends a powerful message to everyone in the business that diversity and inclusion is valued.

Celebrating diversity sends the same powerful message into the marketplace too; sometimes in ways we might not first imagine. Around the barbeque, in the local café, and on social media, people share their experiences of working for employers. What they say impacts the brands of those employers and the perceptions of professionals in the job market.

Hidden influences

Employer brands are also shaped by other subtle, yet important, factors. For example, the wording of job adverts can make or break efforts to attract diverse candidates. Employers should take care to write language that doesn’t inadvertently discourage certain people from applying.

As our recent whitepaper on age diversity showed, unconscious bias can also have a hidden influence on recruitment decisions. Like it or not, we all have in-built assumptions about other people – it’s a survival instinct that is part of human nature.

The important thing is that this is identified and managed. Some practical steps employers can take include assessing “blind CVs” (removing certain information such as gender and name) and anti-bias training to identify unconscious attitudes and manage recruitment more objectively.


I will be reflecting upon the power of diversity as the Lions step onto fields across New Zealand this month. It’s inspiring to see this group of hitherto disparate individuals come together, supporting one another. It’s a fine example for us all to follow.

By Shay Peters, New Zealand Director at Robert Walters.


Interesting in finding out more on generational diversity? Check out our latest whitepaper here