Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging have become important goals for many (if not most) employers. By creating workplaces that are more inclusive and welcoming to differences, companies and organizations are ensuring that more people get equitable access to work, and that’s important. While prioritizing diversity is crucial from a societal perspective, there are also many benefits that businesses experience as a result.
The truth is, diverse workforces are powerful workforces. Bringing together a variety of perspectives and experiences — ones that reflect the diversity of your customers and stakeholders — can help your organization become more creative, productive, and impactful.
Creating these diverse workforces starts with recruiting and hiring diverse employees. To get this right, teams need to revisit traditional hiring practices and explore diversity recruiting strategies that attract a larger variety of candidates. With this in mind, we’ve put together a guide with ten strategies you can use to foster diversity in your recruiting efforts.
What is diversity recruiting?
Diversity recruiting is a strategy that focuses on making the recruitment process more diverse and inclusive, ensuring that a workforce is representative of a variety of ages, financial statuses, gender identities, races, cultural backgrounds, and abilities. The goal is to employ unbiased and inclusive hiring practices — such as reviewing messaging and providing accommodations — in order to ensure that every possible candidate feels empowered and has a fair opportunity to be hired.
In other words, diversity recruiting is designed to meet the needs of diverse candidates and level the playing field for as many people as possible.
Why is inclusive hiring important?
There are many benefits to having a diverse employee base. Beyond it just being the right thing to do, a diverse workforce fosters innovation and creative thinking. By having a variety of voices at the table, both in leadership and other positions, companies can encourage more diversity of thought. This can help teams in the tech sector create products that serve more people, or hospitality businesses to be more in tune with the needs and interests of various individuals.
Having a diverse management team is particularly impactful. Not only does it help other employees and candidates see themselves represented in leadership positions, it also improves the bottom line. In fact, according to research from BCG, diverse management teams can have 19% higher revenue than companies with below-average leadership diversity.
The diversity of a workforce is also a key decision factor for qualified candidates with an offer in hand. A notable 62% of people would turn down a job offer if it came from a culture that didn’t encourage diversity. As such, implementing diversity recruiting can ultimately help your organization meet and surpass other hiring performance metrics.
10 diversity recruiting strategies your team can start implementing
For teams that are hoping to make their recruitment efforts more diverse and inclusive, we’ve put together a list of diversity recruiting strategies for you to consider.
1. Use your employer brand to show your commitment to inclusivity
Your employer brand is a conduit for showing candidates what your corporate culture looks like. As such, your imagery, messaging, values, and mission should reflect the diversity of your company and nod to the future desired state. Whether it’s on your career page, social media channels, networking events, or job descriptions, it’s important to use language that’s inclusive.
A good way to sense-check whether your brand is alienating anyone is to get feedback from various members within your organization. Once you’re clear on the language and approach you want to use, make sure that your recruiters are trained to carry that brand into interviews and other in-person interactions.
2. Make your job postings inclusive
One of the first things a candidate will see about your company is a job description. Like any first impression, your job posting is an opportunity to show off that your workplace culture is inclusive, welcoming, and a place where diverse employees can thrive. However, if your job posting has language that could be considered ableist, sexist, or classist, it could give candidates the sense that you’re not paying close enough attention to how people are made to feel within your organization.
Take time to review your job descriptions for this type of language and invite other individuals on your team to check for potential flags. In addition, consider how you can make the postings as accessible as possible: can your job descriptions be easily read by screen readers? Is there an option to have an accompanying voice recording embedded in the posting on your website?
3. Give candidates multiple opportunities to disclose
Today, many online application forms will have a section where candidates can disclose if they are part of a marginalized group (e.g. disabled, BIPOC). While this is an important piece of information for recruiters, and can guide the accommodations they offer, not all applicants will feel comfortable disclosing at that stage. This is largely because of the societal and systemic stigma attached to these identities, and a fear of bias in the application process.
As such, candidates should get multiple opportunities to disclose what they’re comfortable disclosing. For instance, a disabled candidate may not feel comfortable disclosing at the application stage, but would still welcome the chance to ask for accommodations once an interview is scheduled. You can facilitate this by offering two-way communication channels or a standard question in your interview-booking email.
4. Review your recruitment sources
Where do you typically hire from? If you’re only really sourcing candidates from your employee network or a specific set of post-secondary institutions, you may be missing out on people that are different from your current workforce. It may be time to revisit your recruiting sourcing strategy and see how you can access candidates with diverse lived experiences. This could include partnering with historically Black colleges and universities, women-led communities, or immigrant resources.
5. Build accommodations into your recruiting process
Like any other business process, the steps in a recruiting process are designed for non-disabled bodies and neuro-typical individuals. To truly make your recruiting process inclusive and attract as many diverse individuals as possible, you need to ensure that each stage of the candidate journey considers their experiences.
Some of the things you can implement include:
- Clear instructions that leave no room for misinterpretation
- An easy-to-navigate application process that doesn’t overwhelm neurodivergent individuals
- A simple process for disabled individuals to request accommodations when needed
- Ensuring the corporate website is fully accessible to candidates who use screen readers
- Using hiring event software that is easy to use and accessible to various people with disabilities
Of note: the burden of work should not be on the candidates. The more experiences you learn from and consider in the process, the more seamless each candidate’s experience will be. Plus, you’ll also likely be benefiting non-disabled and neuro-typical candidates, too, as accessible design is good for everyone.
6. Unconscious bias training
Whether we like it or not, everyone has unconscious biases. It’s an unfortunate product of the societies we live in. Given that recruiters have a say on which candidates go through the hiring journey, their unconscious biases have the potential to be harmful against people in certain groups. Incorporate unconscious bias training into your recruiter training, and ensure that these are ongoing conversations for your team.
Tools like the Wheel of Privilege and Power can be a great tool to start a conversation, as it visually shows people where they sit in the grander scheme of things. (The closer you are to the middle, the more privileged you are.)
7. Involve diverse people in the hiring process
Adding diversity into your hiring team is another great way to ensure that your candidates are representative of the community you live in. Take a look at the team responsible for hiring a candidate or running a volume hiring event: do you have enough diverse perspectives at the table? Or do you risk falling into the trap of everyone agreeing and seeking out the same qualities in a hire?
8. Review your interview process
Whether it’s early in the hiring journey or at the latter stages, interviews are great ways to assess a candidate’s experience, level of interest, and potential alignment with the corporate culture. The interview should also help you compare one candidate against another. That said, your interview questions should be crafted equitably. For instance, if an interviewer knows of an existing relationship between a candidate and someone else in the organization, they shouldn’t adjust the questions to acknowledge that. Same goes for people who have gaps in their resume due to illness, pregnancy, or houselessness — what matters is how well the candidate can do the job.
You should also be prepared to answer questions about the diversity of your organization — and be transparent. The last thing you want is to misrepresent the situation and have a candidate join and be disheartened by the lack of visibility or support they feel on the job.
9. Revamp your talent pipeline with inclusivity in mind
Your recruitment team is likely already doing the work of building a reliable talent pipeline. As you continue with these efforts — whether you’re asking for referrals, taking people’s resumes at networking events, or running an open application — keep diversity in mind. If your talent pipeline is diverse, then you’re more likely to hire diverse candidates when a role is available.
10. Take diversity and inclusion beyond the recruiting process
Remember: you can’t just hire a diverse workforce, your company needs to do the work of ensuring that everyone who is hired feels like they belong and that they’re supported in the long-run. To make this happen, you’ll need flexible programs and policies that cater to different experiences. In addition, sponsoring employee resource groups and facilitating mentorship programs can also be a great way to support diverse career development.
Take a humble approach to diversity recruiting
Making your workforce more diverse and inclusive is an important initiative — but it’s not a one-and-done project. Improving the inclusivity of your recruiting efforts will be an ongoing process, particularly as we continue to learn about different lived experiences and systemic issues that bar people from equitably accessing work. Staying open, adaptable, and proactive will be key, and so will asking your candidates and employees for feedback as you go. It will be a lot of work, yes, but the results will be more than worthwhile.
At Withe, we’re helping recruiting teams give candidates more inclusive experiences with our hiring event software. Learn more on our homepage.