Diversity Hiring: 7 Actionable Items to Implement Today

Diversity within the workforce is no longer a ‘trend’ or a box to check off, but instead, it has become a measurable advantage for most companies. Analytics measuring innovation, problem solving, decision making, employee engagement, and profits all show a positive impact from workplace diversity. 

Because of this, the movement for ethnic and gender diversity in the workplace is gaining momentum. Forward-thinking companies are getting on board and recognizing the importance of creating a workforce reflective of the general population.   

However, recognizing the importance of diversity is one thing, implementing systems that ensure a hiring process that emphasizes gender and ethnic diversity is another.  

How to Hire for Diversity

The US population continues to move towards a time when there will be no ethnic or racial majority. This likely means we will also reach a point where diversity in the workforce will simply be a given. But we’re not there yet. Especially in certain areas of the country.  

This is also true of certain skill sets where diverse candidates can be difficult to find.  

At first glance, hiring for diversity might seem like an easy task. You can just talk to your recruiters and make sure your organization is focused on finding and hiring diverse employees. But it’s not that straightforward. There are very likely unintentional biases in the sourcing, screening, and interviewing activities carried out by your team as well as the tools, wording, and processes you have in place. Those problems must be addressed to truly weeded out to remove unintentional bias.  

Here are seven steps you can take to help do that: 

1.Create a Diversity Statement and Make it Part of Your Company’s Mission  
The best way to build a diverse workforce culture is to create a standardized definition of diversity and putting it down in writing.  

Your company’s diversity statement should include several categories beyond gender and race. Things like sexual orientation, socio-economic backgrounds, physical abilities, and parental status need to be included as well. 

Diversity should be an integral part of your organization’s core purpose. Write it down and share it across the company. This will bring it into focus. If asked by someone outside of your company, everyone should be able to articulate what drives your company, and a culture of diversity and inclusion should be at the forefront.  

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2. Modify Job Descriptions 
The framework and wording of a job description can have a huge impact on the type of talent you attract and can skew the gender distribution within your company. Make sure you are using gender-neutral language throughout all your job postings. This will help avoid alienating anyone they may be interested in applying. 

For example, certain keywords can appeal to one gender more than another. Words such as “competitive”, “ninja”, and “superstar” are generally viewed as masculine and can be an unconscious deterrent for female applicants.  

In addition, be sure to remove superfluous skills and qualifications from your requirements section. Keep only what is vital to the job. Studies show that women are less likely to apply for a job if they feel they don’t meet 100% of the skill requirements. 

Also, steer clear of aggressive language in job postings. A more diverse group is likely to apply when neutral words like “collaborate” or “community” are used.  

Job titles are another thing to pay attention to in your job descriptions. This isn’t as much of an issue in the corporate world as it is with public service jobs where job titles like “fireman”, “postman”, and “policeman” can lead to serious problems when recruiting for gender diversity. In the corporate world, words like “salesman” should be removed and replaced with “salesperson” or “account executive”.  

Finally, make your company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion clear in your job description by adding a few lines about it towards the end. This helps convey to candidates your intention of creating a welcoming work environment. 

(Read Women Back to Work’s Impact Stories)

3. Create a Diverse Pipeline
 
While modifying your job descriptions can help attract diverse candidates, you need go a step further with targeted recruiting. This will ensure that you have a large, diverse pool of candidates to choose from. There are a few ways to do this. 

  1. Have recruiters look specifically for candidates from underrepresented groups during their sourcing efforts.  

  2. Ask employees to refer friends from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. 

  3. Participating in, or host, career events targeted towards women or other minorities groups. 

  4. Search for women with a gap in their resume who are looking to return to work. Returners are an often overlooked, untapped talent pool. 


4. Don’t Forget Contingent Labor
 
The composition of today’s workforce is changing dramatically. Recent data shows that approximately 40% of the workforce in the US is comprised of workers engaged in some form of non-traditional employer-employee arrangement including temporary, contract, part-time or project-based employment. 

These growing numbers only mean that the issue of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity within the ranks of these workers is of the utmost importance to address. Contingent workers are being placed in increasingly strategic positions and are capable of driving revenue and profits, making their roles central to the success of their companies.  

This means applying the same techniques to hiring these individuals as you would for the more traditional, direct hire role. Also, if your company is working with outside parties to engage and hire these individuals, make sure they have processes in place so as to remove any type of unconscious bias in their sourcing, screening, and hiring process. 

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5. Revise the Review Process 
Once you have a viable pipeline of diverse candidates set up, the next step is to ensure you aren’t eliminating them unfairly during the review an interview process. To do this, resumes should be scrubbed of any personal information before they are presented to hiring managers. Names, addresses, and anything else that is personal and not related to performing the job should be removed. This eliminates any potential of unconscious bias creeping into the process.  

Biases can also come into play during in-person interviews. Technical interviews, especially ones that involve whiteboarding, often have an unconscious bias towards men, with women and certain minorities being perceived as less technically sound. A diverse panel of interviewers can help avoid such unconscious bias issues.  

Implementing online technical screening tools such as HackerRank as part of your technical screening strategy can help eliminate gender bias and create a fairer selection process. 

 
6. Foster Diversity by Avoiding ‘Culture Fit’ Mentality 
Hiring for “culture fit” sounds great. And culture is certainly something companies need to consider during the hiring process. But hiring for “culture fit” often leads to the trap of hiring like-minded people. This results in homogeneity and a lack of diversity in your workforce.  

The tendency to gravitate towards like-minded people with similar values is natural. However, this unconscious bias can cause problems when it comes to building a truly healthy, diverse work culture. Put a priority on candidates that are unique and are different from the current workplace culture. This will help create a company that will be an engaging place to work for all employees. 

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7. Offer Unique Incentives to Attract Diversity 
You might have tackled all the issues that hinder diverse hiring, but in order to retain your talent, you should consider adding incentives that make working at your company attractive. For example, offering childcare and home cleaning subsidies, flexible schedules and private nursing areas in the office, gives working mothers a reason to stay with your company.  

Allowing employees to work from home helps with staff satisfaction and retention, boosts productivity and offers a better work-life balance for working parents. Additionally, this will widen your net and help attract talent that is not just in your geographic area.  

Encouraging employees to wear diversity-friendly attire that is work-appropriate and accommodating a variety of cultural and religious holidays also helps convey an inclusive workspace. 

 
Conclusion 
The challenge of building a diverse and inclusive workforce hasn’t been fully solved just yet.  But major change can only be brought about one small step at a time. Companies have to find a way to appeal to, attract and retain a diverse pool of individuals. And it requires transformation and investment at every level of the organization, from the senior most executive to the newest employee in the door.


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