A winning recruitment strategy for diversity in the workplace

As Pride Weeks kick off across major international cities, many of us can’t help but feel a little excited by the prospects of increasing levels of openness and inclusivity. Whether you’re actively participating in the celebrations or on the sidelines watching, Pride events send an important message to many communities: we should celebrate and embrace diversity as it makes us stronger, together. It’s no surprise that many employers take this message to heart and begin to assess their organization, teams and prospective hires- looking specifically for diversity in the workplace.

Diversity hiring is nothing new for recruiters, talent managers, HR managers or hiring managers. The benefits of diversity in the workplace are clear, but some of the top perks include:

  • a broader range of skill sets and experiences in teams;
  • greater capacity for innovation;
  • increased language and cultural awareness;
  • more extensive candidate talent pools;
  • and improved candidate experience through inclusivity.

It should come as no surprise that 35% of hiring managers report increased attention to diversity and inclusion within their recruitment processes. Despite the high-priority status of diversity, many HR and recruitment professionals struggle to operationalize commitments, attract relevant candidates and ultimately make diverse hires.

The core to this disconnect often rests at multiple stages of the recruitment process or talent acquisition model. Here we will arm you with questions to critically assess your recruitment process and identify one recruitment strategy that offers a people-based but tech-assisted solution that helps many companies fully embrace diversity and inclusion.

Seeking diversity hires

Many hiring parties are committed to diversity but struggle to identify what diversity means for their company. There are, of course, general trends when it comes to diversity in the workplace. There are groups of people who will add to the diversity of a team or groups who should experience greater inclusion within your company. But the truth is that diversity varies from company to company, team to team.  This makes creating a recruitment strategy for diversity particularly challenging.

It’s important to ask what kind of people would be a diverse hire for your company. Are there trends in the type of people who you hire? Do you notice that some departments share obvious characteristics in personality, gender or ethnicity? Are there skills or fundamental experiences missing from your teams?

Once you can gather company-wide trends, you might be able to begin to identify what individual diversity hires might look like for your organization. This will help you make an actionable recruitment strategy to encourage diversity in the workplace.

Diverse hires are not limited to gender or race but extend to sexuality, socioeconomic status, disability, age, culture, language among other factors when it comes to background. Despite their personal nature, these experiences, skills, identities play crucial roles in a person’s professional success.

If you’re struggling to champion diversity in the workplace through recruitment, find out first what diversity means for your company. This way you will be better equipped to identify areas in your recruitment process that may be failing to attract and retain candidates who fit your diversity hire bill.

Additional reading: 8 inclusive hiring tips to support disability employment

Assessing your recruitment process

Incorporating diversity into your recruitment process requires careful consideration. Start with a full assessment of your recruitment process by first dividing all activities into two categories: attract and retain. Are you attracting the candidates you would like to see from a diversity standpoint? And if you are getting diverse applicants, are you able to keep them in your recruitment pipeline or do they drop out? Approach these questions with your ideal diversity hire in mind.

Here is a short overview of the most common points in the recruitment process that may be leaking, disqualifying or discouraging diverse applicants.

Diversity in the workplace process

Job descriptions (Attract)

Job descriptions are often a candidate’s first introduction to your organization. There’s currently a lot of knowledge out there when it comes writing the perfect job description, so make sure you have a critical look at the content of your job descriptions. Are you writing your adverts with inclusivity in mind? In this context you may want to watch out for:

  • Gender-specific words
  • Requirements that are nice-to-haves becoming must-haves
  • Corporate jargon

You may want to consider explicitly stating your commitment to diversity in the workplace as well as a comprehensive overview of benefits packages available, whether that’s remote work options or parental leave.

Advertising channels (Attract)

Different sorts of candidates look in different kinds of places for new opportunities. If you’re seeking to reach your ideal diversity candidates, make sure you’re contacting them on the medium they prefer, whether that’s specialist job boards or social media. Failure to reach out across channels may mean you lose out on attracting a wide range of candidates.

Employer branding (Attract)

72% of recruitment professionals agree that employer branding plays a massive role in actively attracting candidates. Those responsible for actively recruiting with diversity in mind should make sure that their employer branding reflects this. Let your candidates know that you actively celebrate diversity in the workplace and support inclusivity.

Candidates will check your company out online before (or shortly after) applying to a position, make sure what they see is positive and represents a brand which embraces diversity and inclusion. You may want to start with a full audit on any external review sites, like Glassdoor, where candidates and former employees leave their feedback. Candidates who read negative reviews regarding your processes, managers or company culture will steer clear of your opportunities.

Consider your careers site as another opportunity to showcase your employer brand and attract diverse talent. Are you highlighting inclusivity and a brand diverse candidates would like to join?

Interviews (Retain)

Interviews are a core piece of the recruitment process. They are an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your company culture and manage candidates’ expectations of the role. But we are aware that hiring managers, and people in general, are biased. It’s important to identify to what degree bias and what type of bias may be impacting your interview process. Be honest and open with your recruiting team to work on mitigating bias.

Structured interviews are an effective way of tackling common biases within your recruitment team. Work towards creating a skill-based questions set for every role. With less room to elaborate on personal similarities, hiring managers will have less room to make decisions based on gut feel. Almost as an added bonus,  the process of agreeing on standardized questions makes interviews more organized and less likely to fall prey to rushed decisions based on instinct,

Candidate experience (Retain)

The candidate experience is broad, as it applies to every point of contact a candidate may have with a company throughout the recruitment process. We know that no recruitment process is set in stone and should be constantly optimized to attract and retain the best talent possible. Why not optimize it with the goal of building a more diverse and inclusive team?

Start with looking critically at email communication, feedback loops and meetings with hiring managers to identify any dropout points for select minorities or diversity groups. Utilize your applicant tracking system’s (ATS) reports function to determine any areas in the candidate experience that may be generating dropouts.

Collaborative hiring & tech

We as people are biased- it’s a painful truth. Even when hiring parties understand the importance of diversity in the workplace, it’s tough (if not impossible) to get rid of underlying, subconscious bias. However, people are also at the core of great hiring decisions and building strong, diverse teams. Especially when these choices and initiatives are taken on together.

Collaborative hiring is a great recruitment model to incorporate when seeking to embrace diversity in the workplace.  Given your team understands your intended diversity and inclusion initiatives, there are many benefits collaborative hiring can bring your company including:

  • Generating positive company culture,
  • Improving new hire retention,
  • Promoting brand ambassadorship,
  • Saving money,
  • And, importantly, mitigating unconscious bias.

Benefits of diversity in the workplace

By including more team members in the recruitment process, prospective hires will not only get a better feel for your company, but decisions makers will also be less likely to make hires or reject candidates based on gut feel. Tech should also support this people-based approach to hiring to ensure the best results.

Make sure your ATS provides a comprehensive overview of the recruitment process and allows your team to be direct users. This oversight should help team members involved in the recruitment process (from the potential colleague to the manager) to add feedback and view others’ thoughts and interactions with the candidates.  Multiple sources of feedback and more eyes on the recruitment process reduce the impact of unconscious bias significantly.

Additionally, reporting can be a sharp tool in helping you understand which teams are performing the best when it comes to collaborative and diversity hiring. Make sure you enable customized reports based on hiring goals to achieve diversity in the workplace.

Working towards diversity and inclusion will be a major priority for recruitment professionals going into the coming years. Make sure you enable the best qualities in your recruitment team- the ability to connect and strategically build teams- while eliminating the challenges of unconscious bias that may have worked their way into your recruitment process.

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