By Karina Margit Erdelyi

Workplace Diversity Through Recruitment: How The Frontline of Hiring Can Make BIG Change Happen

Diverse companies have 19% higher revenue, and according to Harvard Business Review, are 70% more likely to capture a new market. With diversity hiring a top priority for employers, what is the first step to building a diverse workforce? Hire more diversified candidates. Sounds simple — but simple can be vexingly complex. Here are some ways that the frontline of hiring can lead the charge for change.

It is a BIG question buzzing through the business world: how do you recruit, hire, and promote diverse talent — and do so legally?

While 71% of companies say they want an inclusive culture, only 12 percent have reached a level of diversity and inclusion that could be described as “mature.” Creating awareness and finding diverse talent is a top challenge for organizations, but it begins with developing a targeted and well-structured internal and external recruitment strategy.

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Here are six tips to help you do just that.

1. Bake diversity into your job descriptions.

Find smart and creative ways to encourage diverse candidates to apply for your open job opportunities. A simple line of encouragement could make a difference and help your job description stand out — and research data backs this up. For example, women will not apply for a job unless they feel 100 percent qualified, whereas men will apply when they are only 60 percent qualified. According to a Harvard Business Review study, this happens because women are concerned that not meeting all the requirements means that they will not be hired, and therefore decide to apply would be a waste of time. With this in mind, try prefacing every job description by encouraging people to apply — even if they do not meet all of the requirements. Express that your company recognizes that skills and competencies show up in myriad ways and can come from life experience.

2. Teach your hiring managers and recruiters how to avoid biases.

Whether we realize it or not, we all come with a host of unconscious biases that can impact hiring and recruitment, derailing even the most earnest diversity initiatives. It is vital to train your team to be more sensitive to diversity issues and recognize the pernicious pull and impact of unconscious bias. Organize diversity training so your organization can sidestep this pitfall, it is also an opportunity to communicate company values and corporate culture.

3. Learn from companies that have demonstrated a strong commitment to diversity.

“Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” Picasso’s famous quote can also apply to learning from organizations that are succeeding in their diversity and inclusivity efforts. There may be innovative ways to utilize business acumen to benefit diversity hiring initiatives. For example, while most companies use data-collecting ability to target consumers and glean business insights, others use their analytics know-how to promote diversity and inclusion. Repurpose core business competencies to help reach your diversity goals.

4. Curate a diverse interview panel.

One of the benefits of bringing together a hiring team is to help mitigate both conscious and unconscious biases. Curate your interview panel so that it includes a diverse selection of employees. There are many benefits to collaborative hiring processes, but chief among them is that it will help your organization make more diverse choices.

5. Inclusive employee benefits and perks improve workforce diversity.

Design your benefits package with the candidates you want in mind. By investing in inclusive employee benefits and perks, you will help attract and retain candidates from underrepresented minorities. Create a benefits package that’s uniquely your own and speaks to your company values. Some considerations include:

  • Paid maternity, paternity, and adoption leave

It is hard to believe, but the United States is the only developed country in the world without a federal, paid parental leave program. As a result, only 38 percent of companies offer paid parental leave. By offering this key benefit you will better attract those on a family-track, who will value the opportunity for enhanced work-life balance when dealing with a baby.

  • Floating Holidays

Want to support people of different cultural and religious backgrounds? Offer floating holidays for people to use as they wish. It is a great opportunity to stand out to candidates since 55 percent  of companies do not offer this benefit.

  • Remote work policy

Pre-COVID-19, a massive 80 to 90 percent of the United States workforce shared that they would like to work remotely — at least part-time. Now that virtual work has become the norm in this time of pause, extending this benefit will continue to be useful to those from certain underrepresented groups, in particular for those that are disabled, working parents, and those that care for a sick family member.

  • Flexible schedules

Consider offering the opportunity for employees to work a flexible schedule that eschews the traditional work day hours. Doing so can help you attract and retain working parents, older workers, those that care for a sick family member, and certain disabled professionals.

  • Professional development

You can help attract high-potential candidates who have non-traditional, divergent economic, and educational backgrounds by offering ample opportunities for professional development. Doing so can help create diversity of thought and set the stage for improved innovation.

6.     Spotlight your company’s diversity initiatives on your website.

If you are actively engaged in growing diversity at your organization, talk about what you are doing! Writing about diversity is a great way to establish your company as a thought leader and highlight the tangible steps you have taken. If you have carefully curated your benefits package with diversity and inclusion in mind, be sure to advertise that on your site. Let the world know about all your diversity initiatives and efforts — candidates are paying attention.

Final thoughts on creating a more diverse candidate pipeline

If your goal is to become a more diverse company, start with intention, set clear goals, and use data to measure your success. Dig into the details: know how many employees have completed bias reduction and diversity training, and how many underrepresented candidates have been sourced for a particular role.  Communicate your diversity goals and vision in multiple ways so that everyone is clear on the objective and why it matters. Set goals. Track successes. Study missteps. Monitor your progress and optimize your strategies accordingly. It is hard to grow what you cannot measure.