With more and more emphasis being placed on workplace diversity these days, HR managers are under increasing pressure to hire employees of different gender, age, religion, race and ethnicity. This is no easy task. But when done right, it is a task that is well worth it.
What is Diversity Hiring?
Diversity hiring is when recruiters purposely consider job candidates from a variety of backgrounds and take steps to ensure that hiring practices are completely inclusive and free from barriers and biases based on a candidate’s race, ethnicity, age, gender, religion and other characteristics that have nothing to do with work history or job performance.
Why is Diversity Hiring Important?
- Companies with a more diverse workplace make more money. According to Boston Consulting Group (BCG), companies that have more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue(1).
- Companies with a more diverse workplace are more innovative. According to research done by Josh Bersin diverse companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market(2).
- Companies with a more diverse workplace make better decisions. A white paper from online decision-making platform Cloverpop found that when diverse teams made a business decision, they outperformed individual decision-makers up to 87% of the time(3).
- Companies with a more diverse workplace generate a higher job acceptance rate. According to Glassdoor, 67% of job seekers say a diverse workforce is important when considering job offers(4).
- Companies with a more diverse workplace outperform less diverse competitors. McKinsey reports(5) that racially and ethnically diverse companies outperform industry norms by 35%.
These statistics and so many others prove that diversity hiring provides many positive benefits for companies. What diversity hiring is not, however, is hiring people from a variety of different backgrounds for the sake of diversity. When it comes to diversity hiring, those involved are responsible for identifying and eliminating possible biases in the process that may be ignoring or unknowingly discriminating against diverse candidates who are qualified for the job.
(Download Whitepaper: 3 Challenges in Cross-Border Hiring)
Diversity Hiring Practices
Take your job ads through an audit
Take time to assess your job ads from the point of view of the job seeker. Can you identify a problem? Is there something that would discourage you from applying? Do you feel your time is being wasted when asked to give information you’ve already provided on your resume?
Research from Talent Board found that candidates are likely to share their positive hiring experiences with their inner circles over 81 percent of the time and share their negative experiences 66 percent of the time. “There’s an absolute business impact between candidate experience and the bottom line,” says Ed Newman, chief evangelist for Pennsylvania-based Phenom People.
Make sure job descriptions are written inclusively
The words you use in your job descriptions have a big impact on whether or not you will attract a wide pool of diverse applicants. Avoid gender-coded words such as “hacker”, “ninja” or “dominate”. Studies found that such words can unconsciously significantly reduce the number of women(6) applying to open positions. Instead, use words that are straightforward and more accurately describe what the job role is.
Using jargon and corporate language in a job description is another turn off for possible qualified candidates to feel unqualified and not apply. Hannah Fleishman of HubSpot says, “Insider language is a quick way to make someone else feel like an outsider, but if you’re not watching out for it, acronyms and ‘company speak’ will inevitably creep into your job descriptions. When in doubt, assume the candidate doesn’t know the ins-and-outs of your company.”
Expand your recruitment efforts
Search for job seekers in new places. LinkedIn, Indeed, etc., aren’t the only places to look for qualified candidates. Expand out into boards that support the job search efforts of a diverse population. Such places include: The Mom Project, Diversity.com, PDN Recruits, Black Jobs, Hispanic/Latino Professionals Association, Power to Fly, Recruit Disability, Female Executive Search, or VetJobs.
Consider advertising your jobs through different channel
You can also advertise your jobs on the places listed in point three and others like them. Consider going to networking events and job fairs hosted by organizations that represent minority communities. If your company engages in campus recruiting, expand out to community colleges, trade schools, HBCUs, etc.
Make use of diverse job boards
Job boards are still an excellent way to engage possible candidates. Make sure those job boards are diverse as possible. Breezy’s list of the top 20 job boards for diversity hiring(7) is a good place to start.
Ask for blind resumes
Using Katherine McNamee as an example, Daniel Bortz writes for SHRM(8) that stripping identifying information from resumes may reduce bias in recruiting. McNamee is the director of HR at the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) in Arlington, Va. and decided to ask job applicants to not include their name, address, college name, or graduation date on their resume in an experiment with blind hiring.
“It has changed our mindset as an organization,” McNamee says. “We’re more aware of hiring biases. We’ve clarified our evaluation criteria. And because we’ve taken a collaborative approach to blind hiring, I think it has improved the candidate’s experience with our hiring process.”
Make the initial job interview blind
Making an interview blind is hard to do. Even phone interviews can give clues as to a person’s race, age and gender. And at some point, you will have to meet with your candidate face-to-face. But anonymizing the initial interview is a good way to make sure you’ve selected the right candidates free from bias.
A few ideas for blind interviews include sending a Q&A via email, live chat and making use of automated interviewing robots. Triplebyte(9) and Tengai(10) are a couple places to look in to for the latter.
Recruit AI to help review resumes
The majority of HR managers say the hardest part of recruitment is identifying the right candidates from a large applicant pool. In recent years, AI has been implemented to help with recruiting by reducing, and in some cases removing, time-consuming activities like manually screening resumes.
Not only is AI more effective and faster when it comes to reviewing resumes, but it also removes the human element, thus eliminating possible bias against candidates altogether.
Create a diverse internship and/or scholarship program
Not every company is able to offer scholarships, but if your company is one of those that can target it towards a more diverse field of candidates. Do the same for internships.
Most companies end up offering full-time jobs to interns, but if those company internship programs aren’t diverse, the company will end up not being diverse as it wants to be either. A recent Intern Match survey(11) of over 300 companies revealed that just 30% reported that their intern programs are as diverse as they’d like, especially when it comes to race and ethnicity.
Nathan Parcells, CMO of InternMatch.com, suggests(12) five strategies for companies to create a more diverse internship program including offering mentor-ship programs for young students and thinking outside traditional recruiting.
Broadcast diversity on your website and social media pages
When it comes to diversity hiring, almost nothing is worse than a company saying it supports diversity while doing absolutely nothing to encourage it. Make sure your company website and social media pages makes use of multi-racial photos as everyone who considers applying should see themselves reflected at your company.
More importantly, include a personalized diversity message on your website that goes beyond stating that you are “an equality opportunity employer”. Make your company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion known. IBM offers a great example(13):
IBM is committed to creating a diverse environment and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status.
Encourage employees to provide diverse referral
Research by Drafted(14) found that 70% of employers felt referred hires fit the company culture and values better, while 88% of employers said referrals bring in the best hires. If employee referrals result in more efficient hiring, why are more companies seeing such programs as unhealthy for diversity. Well, as a popular idiom goes, “birds of a feather flock together”. In other words, people are more likely to recommend people who have characteristics or interests similar to themselves.
Encourage employees to provide not just any referrals, but diverse referrals. You can even offer a referral bonus specifically for underrepresented minorities. Additionally, ask minorities who already work at your company to refer others in their circle who they know would be a good fit.
Have a diverse interview panel for new hires
Show your company is serious about diversity by making underrepresented minorities apart of the interview process. Having a variety of backgrounds, viewpoints and opinions will no doubt result in more diverse hiring taking place. Maxwell Huppert on LinkedIn notes(15) that in 2014, after Intel began requiring that interview panels for all new hires include at least two women and/or members of underrepresented communities, the technology company saw its diversity numbers shoot up.
Having a diverse interview panel for new hires makes a big positive impact on potential candidates. Lenora Billings-Harris, Greensboro, NC-based diversity strategist and author, says(16), “It really telegraphs to the people you’re interviewing that you are serious about diversity and inclusion and that you are open-minded to that diversity of thought the panel would bring forward.”
Introduce diversity training for your recruiters
Most HR managers would say they would never disqualify a candidate based on race or ethnicity, age, religion or disability. But even the most nonjudgmental people fall victim to “unconscious bias”. It is easy for those involved in the hiring process to make presumptive, unfair assumptions based on a candidate’s name, looks, age, or apparent disability.
Reducing this type of bias takes work. Regular training should be implemented to make recruiters aware and help them to avoid making assumptions and forming biases when reviewing resumes and interviewing candidates.
Create recruitment videos that highlight diversity
Video is one of the most consumed forms of content right now. That’s why it shouldn’t be left out of your hiring strategy. More specifically? Creating a hiring video that places a spotlight on diversity shouldn’t be left out of your strategy.
Such a video should include a good number of photos and video that feature the diversity of the people who are employed at your company. Consider adding a few testimonials as to why your company is a great place to work.
Incorporate automated intelligent shortlisting into your hiring process
One of the most time-consuming parts of the hiring process is manual shortlisting. Automated intelligent shortlisting not only relieves hiring managers of this tedious tasks but also increases workplace diversity.
Intelligent shortlisting software lives inside your ATS and uses your resume database to learn about existing employees’ experience, skills, and other criteria. The shortlisting software then objectively and consistently applies this criterion across all candidates, which reduces problems related to unconscious biases and accidental discrimination.
Use your blog to showcase your company’s diversity practices
What are the practices your company has in place to increase diversity? Showcase what these are on your company blog. As potential candidates browse your website and consider open positions, they will see that you are serious about diversity hiring.
Additionally, seeing others who look like them or share similar backgrounds will place underrepresented minorities more at ease.
Challenges of Diversity Hiring
While there are many benefits, diversity hiring also comes with challenges. An action or conversation that a HR manager may assume is beneficial may come across as offensive or insensitive to a possible candidate. It is important to avoid things such as cultural appropriation, as well as be aware of customs and behavior that are unique to a candidate’s race, religion, etc.
Other diversity hiring challenges may stem from lack of support from top-level executives, refusal to change from current hiring practices that are in place, and reluctance to fix hiring practices that make it hard for diverse candidates to advance through screenings.
Using tech companies as an example, Aline Lerner of Interviewing.io, writes(17) one reason diversity hiring initiatives aren’t working in this industry is because of the technical interview process. “We believe that technical interviewing is a broken process for everyone but that the flaws within the system hit underrepresented groups the hardest,” says Lerner, “because they haven’t had the chance to internalize just how much of technical interviewing is a numbers game.”
If a practice is biased against more diverse candidates when it comes to the hiring practice, that is a challenge that needs to be either modified or done away with.
Diversity hiring is a priority that should be at the top of every HR manager’s agenda in 2020. If implemented correctly, the recommendations given here will help the workplace better reflect the very mixed society we live in.