You don’t need to delve into the detail to know intuitively that a diverse workforce will benefit your business.  A wide cross-section of life experiences and beliefs will naturally yield more innovative, creative practices and achieve better results.

Workplace diversity brings with it different perspectives and backgrounds. It allows your team to avoid echo chamber mentalities that restrict free-flowing ideas and limit creativity.

This post aims to highlight the benefits of promoting your diversity recruitment strategy, and what you can do to achieve it. We’ll look at defining diversity recruitment and offer some tips on how you can improve your team diversity.

Your organisation and those who work within it will reap the rewards of working amongst a diverse team and FOR an employer who is not only aware of diversity but lives it and celebrates it.

What is diversity recruitment?

Diversity in the workplace is the idea that the work environment should represent the world around us. Your team should consist of different types of people from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. This diversity could reflect people from different genders, sexual orientations, races, religions, socio-economic levels, abilities, and educational backgrounds, etc.

Diversity recruiting is the practice of hiring candidates using a process that is free from bias, either for or against any individual or candidate group.

This isn’t tokenism recruiting; you are still looking to find the right candidate for the role. However, it is a system that is structured to ensure that all applicants, regardless of background are given an equal opportunity to be seen.

Why is diversity recruitment important?

First and foremost, prioritising and practicing diversity recruitment is an essential ethical and moral choice.

For your business, it is also best practice.  Diversity recruiting yields many tangible benefits for performance, innovation, and productivity.

A diverse range of viewpoints allows team members to debate the merits of different methods and come to the best possible conclusion using a much wider range of information.

Diversity recruitment; the numbers.

Here’s the proof – if you need it- that having a strong recruiting strategy for diversity is a sure-fire way to improve your team’s performance and drive innovation in your industry.

  • Companies that have a diverse management team yield 19% higher revenue.
  • Diverse companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their industry sectors.
  • 67% of job seekers say that diversity is a decision-maker when it comes to considering joining a company.
  • 85% of CEOs said that having a diverse workforce improved their bottom line.

How you can recruit for a diverse workforce.

Recruiting is a process, so you need to start at the beginning and audit your candidate sourcing processes. Are you ensuring that there’s diversity in who is applying for your jobs?

Part 1 – candidate sourcing.

Audit your job ads.

Review your ads so that you are speaking to a broader range of candidates. You may notice that some of the language you use is directed more toward a specific demographic of experience level.

If this is the case, you could find ways to be more inclusive in your language choices to better appeal to candidates from different backgrounds.

Target sources where diverse candidates congregate.

One way to make sure your inbox is filled with diverse applicants is to source your candidates from a range of different places. Focussing on the same places repeatedly will only result in creating a talent pool lacking diversity.

Instead, you may like to seek out opportunities to reach out to candidates from diverse groups. For example, there are many online groups dedicated to women in STEM. This is a great way to actively connect with skilled female candidates, instead of waiting for them to possibly reach out to you.

Encourage your diverse employees to refer their connections.

Creating a Diversity Referrals program is a proactive way to boost your company’s diversity recruitment efforts and showcase that your company values diversity and wishes to improve it.

If you are looking to hire a more specific demographic, you may like to consider reaching out to employees already on your team who are part of that demographic. You could encourage them to share job ads with their networks and give them the tools they need to do so.

In doing so, you will demonstrate that your company values diversity and is proactively seeking to build on its minority demographics.

Offer internships to targeted groups.

Many companies have taken an active position on improving their diversity procedures by starting internal diversity programs by offering internships to candidates from specific backgrounds.

This is a fantastic way to encourage rising professionals to join the team and get some commercial experience.

You might like to consider reaching out to schools, colleges, or universities in your area to make connections with students or graduates.  Community Groups are also often a great resource and have their own programs to encourage growth.  Teaming up with these organisations is a great way to proactively improve your diversity hiring.

Build an employer brand that showcases diversity.

Perhaps the most overwhelming way to boost diversity sourcing is to organically create an employer brand that values people with experiences in all walks of life.  You should highlight the importance and benefits of diversity for the team and the individuals within it. As the team ‘buy in’ and live this every day, it will soon become part of your company culture.

As this occurs you will begin to develop a brand that is known for valuing diversity. You may like to use this as an active part of your business. You could record your employees’ stories and include these as part of your corporate personality on your website, for example.

Candidates from diverse groups will seek out companies who truly value these ideals, and developing this identity organically is the way to truly reap the benefits.

Create company policies that appeal to diverse candidates.

You may value diverse recruiting strategies, but you must live them. They should be part of your company DNA. To do this, you should proactively implement company policies that appeal to diverse candidates.

For example, you could be more flexible about your schedule, changing ‘holidays and time off to include more religious holidays and community events, etc.  You could encourage employees to tailor their ‘time off’ for festive celebrations over times that are in line with the religion they follow instead of those that fall into the majority calendar.

It is also important for companies to welcome feedback about your policies from your employees.  For example, do they think that there are policies in place that hinder diversity?

You should encourage all feedback – anonymously if people prefer – and make sure that the team knows that ALL feedback, good and bad, will be welcomed.

Part 2 – screening.

If part one has gone as it should, your diversity sourcing should have brought you in a variety of candidates from all walks of life.  However, it is important you make sure that your screening process eliminates bias.

Use blind CVs.

Remove all personal data from CVs.  Information like names, schools, universities, date of birth, specific locations etc can all give clues on the ‘identity’ of a candidate and lead us to make a biased assessment of that person – even if it’s not done intentionally.

Use blind Interviews.

These use the same principle as blind CVs. This is simpler than it sounds.  Could you send a series of texts to anonymise the screening process, or communicate via a messenger system?  Candidates should be asked to respond to these questions anonymously, and to avoid disclosing personal information.

The goal is to remain free of bias about who you choose to interview further.  It is harder to remove all personality and bias when talking to candidates on the phone or in person.

Of course, it would be easier to work as you always have, and this modified system may not be the norm. However, once you explain to candidates why you are working in this way, it is likely that they’ll welcome it. The candidates you want are the ones that value diversity and realise its importance. The candidates who don’t value what you are doing are not the ones you want anyway. And for those that do engage, your hard stance on diversity screening will impress them.

Harness AI to review CVs.

One way to ensure you remove bias from the CV screening process is to use AI technology in your ATS.

Depending on the role in question you could pre-program the platform to flag and filter for specific skills and experience, letting the AI tech analyse the CVs within those parameters. This should give you a skills-based shortlist free from bias.

Rethink your screening criteria.

This relates back to your earlier work where you audited your job ads. A crucial element of diversity recruiting is to always be querying the traits you value most in candidates. Ask yourself why you value those and most importantly ask how you came to value those traits…i.e. whether those are based on your own biases.

As a hiring manager, you should take the time to look at how you’re testing and screening candidates, being very honest about if you’re leading the results toward particular types of people.  If you find you are, you should consider changing your testing methods.  If you aren’t sure, why not ask your diverse peers who don’t mirror your opinions or experience.

an african american candidate is being interviewed by two young professional women

Part 3 – shortlisting and hiring.

Deciding about who to shortlist and hire can be the hardest part of your diversity recruitment strategy.  By this stage, you will have a good idea about who each candidate is. This means that your own bias may creep into the equation.  There are techniques you could use that will help to eliminate this.

Automate your shortlisting procedure.

Your ATS can be used to impartially shortlist your list to the candidates with the highest potential.  Use it to find the candidates with the most potential and the broadest range of skills.

In doing so, you can remove both personal bias and opinions about specific candidates and only focus on the information that is relevant to the job description.

Shortlisting candidates based on these requirements will help you move toward diversity.

If you have worked toward a diversity hiring model at the start of the process, then you should have a wide candidate pool at this stage. If not, then you may like to consider the next point.

Seed talent pipelines with diverse candidates.

Statistics reveal that diverse candidates are far less likely to be chosen when they are the only ones from their demographic represented in a shortlist of candidates. To help to work against this decision bias, you can use a diversity recruitment strategy called “the two in the pool effect”.

This strategy works on the premise that having multiple people from the same minority demographic drastically increases the likelihood that one of them will be hired.  Intentionally priming the shortlist with a proportionate number of diverse candidates should result in a more even playing field when it comes to hiring.

Diversity Recruiting. The takeaways.

  • Diversity recruiting is the active pursuit to hire a team that represents the world around us, not just a particular cross-section or demographic.
  • Diverse teams yield better results, are more innovative and more productive.
  • Employers should not wait for applications from diverse or minority groups. A diversity recruiting strategy needs to be put in place to actively seek out, attract and hire candidates from different backgrounds and with different experiences of the world we live in.
  • Recruitment is a process, and you may need to make changes throughout.
  • You will need to assess how you source candidates.
  • You will need to assess how you screen candidates.
  • You will need to assess how you structure the interview process.

About the author: I manage the recruitment for a range of digital roles for my clients on both a retained and contingency basis. I specialise in senior and confidential appointments, always giving a first class representation of a client’s employer brand.

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