Guide to Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace - Glassdoor for Employers

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Guide to Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Guide to Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Diversity and inclusion programmes are not just a current trend, and their importance goes far beyond complying with laws or “doing the right thing”. There are strong data to support that hiring a diverse workforce is good for business.

And there’s quantifiable proof that it’s good for company culture, too. Two-thirds of active and passive job seekers say that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers.1 No matter the size of your company, making diversity a priority is a critical step towards becoming a recruiting and branding powerhouse.

In this eBook, we present the business case for diversity and inclusion and define what each term means. We’ll look at the requirements for a successful diversity programme and share insights on how to create an inclusive culture through managing bias and building community. Finally, we’ll look at recruiting and branding strategies and best practices for diversity, and provide resources on where to find more information. We hope this guidebook helps you build a more productive, inclusive and profitable organisation.

Section 1: The Business Opportunity for Diversity and Inclusion

The reasons for building a diverse and inclusive organisation go beyond the idea that welcomes people of all types is “the right thing to do”. Diversity and inclusion are essential for competitive advantage as they are tied to better business performance and greater levels of innovation.

Bersin by Deloitte, the Human Resources arm of leading consulting firm Deloitte, listed diversity among its top predictions for 2017.

Diversity, inclusion and the removal of unconscious bias will become CEO-level issues in 2017.1

Yet organisations with mature diversity and inclusion efforts are rare. Deloitte research found that just 10% of organisations have mature talent organisations that include an integrated approach to diversity and inclusion.2

These organisations have a distinct competitive advantage, as further research illuminated the ways company performance and innovation are correlated to diversity and inclusion:

  • The largest “highly inclusive organisations” generate 2.3 times more cash flow per employee, while the smaller companies had a 13 times higher mean cash flow from operations when compared to peer organisations.2
  • Highly inclusive organisations generate 1.4 times more revenue and are 120% more capable of meeting financial targets.1
  • Firms in the top tier for diversity and inclusion are also 1.8 times more likely to be change-ready and 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market.3

A McKinsey study also demonstrated the correlation between diversity and financial performance: companies with the highest rankings for racial/ethnic diversity were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their national industry median.4

Doing the right thing for better business outcomes in 2018 and beyond means incorporating diversity and inclusion into your business strategy. Following are some additional ways that diversity and inclusion can contribute to your business.

Keep Up With Population Trends

Organisational movement towards diversity and inclusion is reflective of larger trends in the UK and global population. Ethnic minorities will make up 20% of Britain’s population by 2051, which will grow to a total of 7.7 million5. The UK will also become far less segregated as ethnic groups disperse throughout the country.

  • HIRE FOR DIVERSITY. In order to ensure continued access to the best talent, companies need to ensure sourcing and hiring practices do not inadvertently weed out talented candidates from diverse groups.
  • MANAGE FOR INCLUSION. An increasingly globalised workforce means that people of different backgrounds must work together. A focus on inclusion is now a necessity for smooth business operations and employee retention.

Improve Customer Success

he increasingly diverse population means that most companies’ customer base will also become more diverse. Logic follows that a worker base that mirrors its customer base will enable a company to create more relevant products and respond more effectively to customer needs.

Enhance Partner Success

Vendors, partners, and suppliers want to do business with companies that reflect their own values. While UK legislation — covering age, disability, race, religion, gender and sexual orientation among others — sets minimum standards, an effective diversity and inclusion strategy goes beyond legal compliance and seeks to add value to an organisation, contributing to employee well-being and engagement.

Companies that publicly commit to diversity and inclusion will attract like-minded partners, and a mutual focus on inclusion could result in fairer negotiations.


Pledge your company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion on Glassdoor! Diversity Commitment has programmes that support a diverse and inclusive workforce. Simply log into your Employer Centre using a Free Employer Profile,.

Demographic trends relating to age also have an impact on employment:

Baby Boomers

Substantial numbers of baby boomers, especially lower and middle earners, are expecting to work past state pension age. 35% of men and 26% of women in the UK predict that they’ll still be working beyond the age of 66.13

In addition, eldercare is becoming a priority for the sons and daughters of aging Baby Boomers, indicating the need for better family leave benefits.


Millennials are delaying marriage, childbirth and are more likely to live at home.14 At the same time, 76% of Millennials would rather have a career they are passionate about but doesn’t earn a lot of money than have a high earning career that they are not passionate about.15 Delayed home ownership and parenting allows Millennials to put more attention on the value they are getting out of work, and that includes feeling included.

As a more diverse generation than their predecessors,16 Millennials are sensitive to inclusion, with 83% saying they are engaged at work when they believe the organisation fosters an inclusive culture. Only 60% said they were engaged when they believe their organisation does not foster an inclusive culture.


As shown in the previous section, the racial/ethnic makeup of the workforce is becoming more diverse. Building the organisation for the future requires hiring for diversity and creating an inclusive environment for minorities.


Even within homogeneous racial or ethnic identities, cultural or national heritage can play a role in attitudes and behaviours.

Sexual Orientation

The percentage of people identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual increased significantly last year, to 2% of the UK population.17


More than half of the British public (53%) say they are not at all religious, while around 1 in 20 people in the UK said they belong to non-Christian religions, with 3% describing themselves as Muslim, 2% Hindu and 1% Buddhist.18

Veteran Status

The estimated 4.5 million veterans in the UK bring a unique background to civilian work.19


There are 13.3 million disabled people in the UK. 18% of working age adults are disabled. 44% of pension age adults are disabled.20


Individuals with conditions such as autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD, and social anxiety disorders may lack more traditionally valued skills but can still prove to be very valuable employees.21


A focus on hiring individuals from the same schools or type of school (e.g., Russell Group) can create homogeneity in the work environment. An insistence on degree completion or a specific degree for a given role can eliminate candidates who are self-taught or have on-the-job training.

Socioeconomic Background

Socioeconomic background is often revealed in extracurricular activities and school choices. If a company’s culture emphasises hiring “people like me”, talented candidates can be left out of the consideration process.

Diversity of Thought

Each person has a unique way of thinking and solving problems. Seeking out and encouraging diversity of thought helps eliminate groupthink, fosters new insights and enables innovative problem-solving.22

Lifestyle Diversity

Choices regarding food and alcohol consumption, attire and personal pursuits can stem from medical needs, individual preferences and religious beliefs.

A recent study revealed that US law firms were most likely to respond to male applicants with elite backgrounds, and less likely to respond to females from elite backgrounds along with applicants of either sex from diverse backgrounds.22


Diversity Beyond Compliance: Reviewing the breadth of diversity types underscores the importance of focusing diversity efforts beyond compliance requirements (typically gender, race, veteran and disability status). A truly diverse organisation welcomes differences in all aspects of the human experience, not just those for which there are predetermined labels.

Section 3: Inclusion Supports Diversity

Diversity and inclusion go hand in hand. A culture cannot be diverse AND successful if employees outside of a dominant group do not feel included. People hired from diverse backgrounds are more likely to remain employed with your organisation if they feel that their perspective and contributions are valued by the organisation, their team, and their manager.

Covering, the common phenomenon in which employees omit, hide or lie about certain essential personal characteristics, preferences or activities occurs when employees don’t feel that they (or an aspect of themselves) belong. Women, LGBT individuals and minorities are more likely to cover in the workplace.24

The mental activity of covering creates stress and depletes energy that can better be put towards work. True authenticity can actually facilitate team connections and improve performance while operating from fear creates unnecessary tension that can keep team members apart and reduce performance.

A study published in The Journal of Educational Psychology showed how giving women in an American university engineering programme tools to mitigate threats to a sense of belonging in a male-dominated environment helped them significantly reduce stress levels, improved their well-being and raised their grade point averages.25

Inclusion, at its best, is a sense of belonging for each employee. It’s the feeling that “I can be myself” at work. An inclusive environment accepts personal differences among employees while focusing on the business mission to create customer value.


Inclusion and Reputation Cost: As the research in previous sections shows, the most inclusive organisations benefit from better business performance. In addition, fostering inclusion can protect a company from potential reputation damage and costly discrimination lawsuits.

Section 4: Requirements for a Successful Diversity Programme

Building a diverse and inclusive organisation does not happen overnight. It takes a comprehensive effort and continued investment over years to attract, hire, develop and retain a diverse workforce.

Following are some key factors to consider as you embark on the diversity journey:

  • LEADERSHIP BUY-IN. The CEO and other company leaders are the most visible spokespeople for diversity. Leadership support is needed to ensure diversity and inclusion efforts receive the appropriate attention, funding, and monitoring. Leaders also provide daily examples for employees by exhibiting inclusive behaviours, managing their own bias and supporting employees’ best work.
  • A DIVERSITY ADVOCATE. Most large organisations have a head of diversity or other individuals who is accountable for the diversity and inclusion programme. This individual may or may not be from a minority group; the best person for the job has experience and a deep interest in improving the organisation’s success, through fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce. A successful diversity advocate will be skilled at building relationships throughout the organisation and ensuring accountability on diversity goals.
  • SET DIVERSITY GOALS. The best diversity programmes are tied to a company’s business strategy, are aligned with company values and have achievable goals. It will take some planning and teamwork to analyse the current situation, set a vision for the company’s diversity and inclusion programme and then break it down into action steps.
  • MEASUREMENT AND ACCOUNTABILITY. Understanding where your company is on its diversity journey is essential before you set goals on where you want to go. Initial analysis should include gathering data on your current employee population and comparing to benchmarks. Some companies employ tools similar to the Diversity Scorecard used by the US Olympic Committee.

To understand where to focus inclusion efforts, employee surveys and focus groups can illuminate the levels to which employees currently feel included. This type of analysis will allow you to spot problem areas that could impact retention.

Further data analysis should include a look at your candidate pool, employee performance reviews, promotions, compensation and turnover by diversity group. Looking at diversity measures by the department can also help pinpoint necessary areas for training or help decide where to set more aggressive recruiting goals.

Gathering data into a dashboard that can be viewed and tracked by leaders will help keep diversity and inclusion a top-of-mind issue for the organisation. The assistance of a vendor and/or an employee specialist in HR analytics will likely be required in larger organisations.


Commitment to the Journey: Improving representation of diverse groups within a company can take years.26 Leaders, managers and staff should be patient and persistent as they seek to create a more diverse and inclusive organisation.

Section 5: Creating an Inclusive Culture

Managing Bias

The most essential component of creating an inclusive culture is managing bias.

Bias is defined as “a particular tendency, trend, inclination, feeling or opinion, especially one that is preconceived or unreasoned.”27

The Roots of Bias

At any given moment, the brain is collecting 11 million pieces of information per moment but can only process 40.28 The brain forms pathways during past experiences and takes these familiar shortcuts as it processes new information. Seen in this light, uncovering bias is simply an opportunity to uncover these old routes and forge new ones.

Bias can be conscious, in the form of preferences for a certain look or body type when considering a potential romantic mate, or unconscious, as when rejecting candidates based on name or gender without fully reviewing qualifications.

Your organisation would not be seeking to increase diversity if there were not some form of unconscious bias operating in the way you hire and manage employees. Therefore, it’s essential to understand how bias operates at your company as you embark on the diversity and inclusion journey.

Make the Commitment to Uncovering Bias

Managing bias is hard, yet rewarding. Making unconscious bias conscious requires a commitment to self-awareness. It asks individuals to question their assumptions about the way things work, the way they behave and the way they make choices. It also requires a willingness to have uncomfortable conversations about bias perceived in everyday interactions with colleagues.

At the organisational level, managing bias benefits from a shared sense of safety around approaching difficult topics, and a shared language for discussion of difficult topics. Successful inclusion programmes have leadership support and rely on leaders to set the example by being transparent about their own biases.

The Power of Facts

Thankfully, there is a large and growing body of academic research conducted over the last two decades that support uncovering bias, allowing leaders and staff alike to put an objective framework around the very subjective task of managing bias.

This research by neuroscientists, psychologists, sociologists, and other academics has shed light on how the brain processes information and the natural human tendencies toward bias. Additional research has uncovered how biases affect various aspects of business operations and what steps are effective in managing it. Leading companies and Glassdoor Best Places to Work winners such as Salesforce, Facebook and Alphabet (Google) use this research in their own bias training.

Where to Spot Bias

Following is a list of areas in your organisation where bias might appear. Analyse your data and review these suggestions as you make plans to become a more inclusive organisation.

Performance Reviews

Are men and women evaluated and rewarded on the same criteria? Research suggests they may not be.29 Provide manager training to counteract bias in performance reviews, and ensure objective criteria are provided for evaluations.

The Path to Leadership

Are men, women, and minorities offered the same development and mentoring opportunities? Look at enrollment in these programmes and decide how you can make them more accessible. Consider how to structure mentoring development programmes that provide equal access, and counteract tendencies toward male-male favouritism.


Use data analysis to find out if men, women, and minorities are being promoted at the same rate. Because women have a tendency to downplay accomplishments while men tend to brag,30 they may not nominate themselves, or be overlooked when it comes time for a promotion.


Differences in compensation often exist among men, women, and minorities, but this can be overcome with accountability and transparency practices.31 Analysing your compensation data by diversity groups will allow you to find problem spots. Additionally, Glassdoor found that women are less likely to negotiate the first offer,32 so create narrow pay bands that reduce the opportunity for men to over-negotiate.

Everyday Interactions

Survey data and employee focus groups may help uncover areas where bias operates in your organisation. Spotting and counteracting these four common forms of bias may help employees feel more included:33

  1. Performance bias. Males’ performance may be overestimated compared to females’ performance. Performance of racial minorities may be underestimated compared to whites.
  2. Performance attribution. Male success may be attributed to skill and expertise, while female success may be attributed to helping from others, coincidence and working hard. The success of women and other minorities may be attributed to Affirmative Action or being a “diversity hire”.
  3. Competence vs. Likeability. Women may be evaluated negatively for exhibiting characteristics commonly praised in men; they may also be expected to do office “housework” or take meeting notes.
  4. Maternal bias. Mothers may be passed over in CV reviews or not given opportunities because of the perception of unavailability due to parenting responsibilities. Alternately, they may be judged harshly for working too hard.

Encouragement for the Unbiasing Journey: As you can see, bias pervades many aspects of organisational culture. Awareness is half the battle. Once groups start to build trust through this awareness and employees feel permission to express themselves authentically, momentum will carry the transformation toward inclusion forward.

Section 2: Types of Diversity

At its simplest definition, diversity means variety. In terms of talent management, diversity means consideration of the variety in heritage, background and tendencies of candidates and employees.

Just as marketers and product developers need to understand the demographics of their audience base, HR and talent acquisition professionals can benefit from learning about the population with an eye towards the opportunity that each group represents. The following list includes standard and non-standard types of diversity. Statistics are included to illustrate the prevalence of various groups.


More women are working than ever before. They make up just under half (46%) of the total UK labour force.6 And women are 35% more likely to go to university than men in the UK.7

Globally, 24% of management roles are held by women, while 33% of companies have no women at the senior management level.8

A 2016 analysis of more than 20,000 firms in 91 countries found that companies with more female executives were more profitable.9

Companies with the highest rankings for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have financial returns that were above their national industry median.10


The UK’s population is living and working longer than ever before. The working-age population (ages 16 and older) is expected to rise to 44.6 million in 2039.11 Today, 15.5% of men are still in employment at the age of 70; while 11.3% of women are working past retirement age.12 Organisations have the opportunity to benefit from the perspectives of older and younger workers by hiring for age diversity.

Building Community

Another key component of inclusive work environments is a shared sense of belonging. That belonging can be felt toward the organisation itself, the team, and shared affinity groups within the organisation. It can also extend to the communities that the organisation serves. Inclusive organisations successfully create this sense of belonging through community activities at work and off-site.

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

ERGs are employee-led affinity groups. They can be organised around diversity-oriented topics such as women in leadership, LGBT, veterans and blacks, or interests such as the environment or wellness. They give employees a forum to share concerns, give and receive mentorship, and get involved with the larger community if desired.

Volunteer Activities

Some companies take a long-term approach toward building the diversity pipeline by working with youth and educational non-profits. Volunteering can give employees the opportunity to share expertise, lead others and set an example to individuals from underserved communities.

Be Aware of Diversity Backlash

Building an inclusive culture and bringing on more diverse workers means change for your organisation. Change is always met with some resistance. White males, in particular, can feel threatened by diversity messaging.33

Following are a few pointers for managing potential detrimental effects of diversity and inclusion programming.

  • Frame initiatives around facts relating to the business imperative.
  • Make clear that bias and feelings of exclusion are universal. Use examples from cognitive research in training.
  • Make training optional so people in dominant groups don’t feel coerced or inadvertently blamed.
  • Use storytelling to illustrate transformative moments for individuals as well as groups.
  • Rely on social accountability to enforce positive behaviours. Make retaliation unacceptable.
  • Avoid tokenism, which inflates bias toward minorities and creates division rather than inclusion.
  • Celebrate diverse contributions, no matter who they come from.

Section 6: Recruiting for Diversity

Just as managing for inclusion requires becoming aware of changing unconscious ways of thinking, recruiting and hiring for diversity requires changing one’s mindset and questioning rote behaviours in order to find, screen and hire diverse talent. Recruiting’s role in creating a more diverse workforce includes:

  • Getting more diverse candidates into the talent pipeline
  • Helping remove bias from screening, interviewing and hiring decisions

Follow these pointers to get more diverse candidates into your recruiting pipeline and all the way to the offer stage.

  • Define diversity goals. Let your initial diversity analysis guide your goals for hiring. (See the previous section on Measurement and Accountability.)
  • Identify recruiting bias. Use knowledge gained from bias training to identify the biases in your hiring process. (See the previous section on Managing Bias.) Consider where there might be bias in how your company sources, screens and interviews candidates, and finally, look at hiring decisions.
  • Make a plan — and address low hanging fruit first. To start making early wins, decide which areas can be addressed immediately, then evaluate longer-term projects and plan accordingly.
  • Consider technology that can help. Software that assists with CV screening, job descriptions, interviewing, testing and data analysis can make hiring for diversity easier.
  • Make time your friend. Changing internal processes such as incorporating new screening software or revamping interviewing practices takes time. Be realistic about how long it might take, and set achievable time-based goals.
  • Remove bias from job descriptions. The wording in job descriptions can impact whether more females or males apply. Listing non-necessary qualifications can also limit the number of females that apply.
  • Consider blind CV screening. Gender and ethnicity of names are known to have an impact on CV screening. Consider a tool that allows you to screen without this information.
  • Expand your sourcing networks. Look at diversity-oriented job groups, partner with diversity organisations, and connect with diversity-oriented groups at universities. Also, consider expanding your university recruiting to more diverse schools.
  • Test fairly. The commonly used whiteboard test for coding doesn’t replicate the normal coding environment. Create computer-based tests if possible.
  • Define objective hiring criteria. Getting hiring teams on the same page ahead of time can help prevent unspoken or subjective criteria from appearing late in the evaluation stages.
  • Create diverse interview teams. Structure interview teams based on who can evaluate candidates objectively as well as who would make the candidate feel comfortable.
  • Beware of affinity bias. Affinity bias is the preference for people “like me”. In recruiting this commonly occurs when interviewers rate a candidate with a similar background as themselves more highly than a candidate with a different background, even if that candidate is more qualified.
  • Watch out for confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is when someone forms an opinion and interprets new evidence as confirmation of that belief. An interviewer may start with a preconceived opinion of a candidate based on the CV, and ask questions geared to confirming that belief.
  • Define “culture add,” not the culture fit. Affinity bias and confirmation bias can both affect how candidates are viewed as fitting into the culture. By defining ideal cultural values ahead of time, interviewers will be more likely to make decisions based on the candidate’s potential contribution.
  • Welcome and share new ideas. As you remove the bias from your recruiting process, you and your colleagues will have new ideas and insights on how to better find and screen diverse candidates. Don’t be afraid to share, discuss and implement ideas that you think can help meet your organisation’s diversity goals.

Research shows that women are unlikely to apply for a position unless they meet 100% of the requirements, while men will apply if they meet 60% of the requirements.34

Section 7: Branding for Diversity

Candidates from diverse backgrounds want to know that they’ll be welcomed at your company, so it’s important to include diversity messaging in your employer brand communications.

Check out these guidelines as you promote your company’s diversity messaging.

  • Articulate your commitment to diversity. Post your company’s approach to diversity on your careers site and Glassdoor. Make sure it aligns with how your company actually operates. If it doesn’t, candidates will notice the disconnect when they arrive for an interview, or worse, after they are hired.
  • Show your diverse workforce. Include photographs of women and minority employees on your careers site and Glassdoor. Don’t use stock photography.
  • Update your recruitment communications. When recruiting at universities and events, ensure any brochures or handouts show that your company welcomes diverse candidates.
  • Know where you stand against the competition. View career sites and Glassdoor pages of your employment competitors to find out how they address diversity. To learn from the best, look at Glassdoor Best Places to Work, and DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity.

Other Helpful Resources

Finding, summarising and communicating the research most relevant to your organisation’s needs will help you build the case for diversity and inclusion with company leaders. The following resources include validated, scientifically based information, tools, and training on diversity and inclusion topics.

Unconscious Bias




  1. Bersin by Deloitte, Predictions for 2017, December 2016;
  2. Bersin by Deloitte, Diversity and Inclusion Top the List of Talent Practices Linked to Stronger Financial Outcomes, November 2015;
  3. Josh Bersin, Why Diversity and Inclusion Has Become a Business Priority, December 2015;
  4. McKinsey, Why Diversity Matters, January 2015;
  5. University of Leeds, Ethnic Population Projections for the UK and Local Areas, 2001-2051, July 2010;
  6. The World Bank, “Labor Force, Female (% of Total Labor Force)”, 2016;
  7. Higher Education Policy Institute, Boys to Men: The Underachievement of Young Men in Higher Education, May 2016;
  8. Grant Thornton, Women in Business: Turning Promise Into Practice, March 2016;
  9. Harvard Business Review, Diverse Teams Feel Less Comfortable - That’s Why they Perform Better, September 2016;
  10. McKinsey, Why Diversity Matters, January 2015;
  11. Office for National Statistics, “People of Working Age and State Pension Age,” National Population Projections: 2014-based Statistical Bulletin; 29 October 29, 2015;
  12. UK Office for National Statistics, 2017;
  13. Lifetime Poverty and Attitudes to Retirement among a cohert born in 1958, Centre for Longitudinal Studies, August 2017;
  14. U.S. Census Bureau, The Changing Economics and Demographics of Young Adulthood: 1975–2016, April 2017;
  15. Forbes, Why You’re Having A Hard Time With Your Millennial Employees — And What To Do About It, May 2016;
  16. Census Bureau, Millennials Outnumber Baby Boomers and Are Far More Diverse, June 2015;
  17. Office for National Statistics, 2016;
  18. National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), British Social Attitudes 34, 2017;
  19. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Profile of Veterans: 2015, March 2017;
  20. Family Resources Survey 2015/16;
  21. Harvard Business Review, Neurodiversity as a Competitive Advantage, May 2017;
  22. New York Magazine, High-Class Hobbies Will Help You Land a Top Job, Unless You’re a Woman, December 2016;
  23. Deloitte, Diversity’s New Frontier, July 2013;
  24. Deloitte University, Uncovering Talent: A New Model for Inclusion, December 2013;
  25. The Journal of Educational Psychology, “Two Brief Interventions to Mitigate a “Chilly Climate” Transform Women’s Experience, Relationships, and Achievement in Engineering” 2015;
  26. Fortune, Google’s Diversity Efforts Show Scant Progress, June 2016;
  28. Wilson, T. D. Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious, Harvard University Press;
  29. Fortune, The abrasiveness trap: High-achieving men and women are described differently in reviews, August 2014;
  30. Montana State University, Bragging rights: MSU study shows that interventions help women’s reluctance to discuss accomplishments, January 2014;
  31. Organisation Science, Accounting for the Gap: A Firm Study Manipulating Organisational Accountability and Transparency in Pay Decisions, April 2015;
  32. Glassdoor, Salary Negotiation Insights Survey, May 2016:
  33. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Members of high-status groups are threatened by pro-diversity organisational messages, January 2016;
  34. Harvard Business Review, Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified, August 2014