More than ever, employers are prioritizing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (or DE&I) initiatives and recognizing the need to cultivate an inclusive culture and diverse workforce. However, many are still figuring out how to go about designing and managing a recruitment process that promotes diversity. 

What is diversity recruiting?

Diversity recruiting is the process of finding and hiring of candidates that is free from biases for, or against, any individual or group of candidates. The dimensions of diversity extend beyond gender or race/ethnicity and branch out to religious beliefs, marital status, parental status, age, education, physical and mental ability, sexual orientation, language, geographic location, veteran status, and more.

But diversity recruiting is about more than just checking that diversity box; it’s about building a team that is accepted, included, and valued. An authentically diverse culture encourages broad perspectives. 

Diversity in recruitment works to make sure each position in your company is representative of the available talent across demographic segments and locations. It doesn’t mean that you have to, for example, devote 50 percent of your roles to women. It’s about a deep (and ideally, data-driven) understanding of the availability of talent in a role so that you can direct your recruitment efforts to gain the broadest and most diverse perspectives on business problems.

Why should employers care about diversity recruiting?

In some cases, there are certain legal requirements applicable to hiring decisions, compelling employers to take specific actions to have a diverse workforce. For example, the U.S. Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is responsible for ensuring that employers doing business with the federal government comply with the laws and regulations requiring nondiscrimination. Those offices must also demonstrate “Good Faith Efforts,” specific actions that employers and sponsors can take to fulfill their EEO/AA responsibilities. But the benefits of hiring diversely are more than just complying with a regulatory mandate. 

It has been proven over and over that diverse teams produce better results both in production and innovation. In fact, a recent study by the Wall Street Journal reported “diverse and inclusive cultures are providing companies with a competitive edge over their peers.” Diverse teams bring a variety of thoughts and approaches to the table, enabling companies to consider a larger variety of business solutions. Combined, a diverse team can lead to a better run, more competitive business. Beyond that,studies also show people are generally happier when they are part of a diverse and inclusive team. 

Yet, employers sometimes find that their diversity recruiting initiatives fail. Worse still, they often don’t know why.

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Diagnose with data

An effective approach is to manage a funnel that includes your diversity makeup. By autonomizing your information and looking at how many of your sourced, screened, interviewed, and hired candidates are diverse, you will see where action can be taken. For example, do your hiring managers need more training? Does your interview process need to be changed? If candidates don’t accept an offer, what happened?

As with any initiative, it’s important to set goals and KPIs and track your results. Be sure to track outreach, screening and interviewing efforts. The data should also include analytics on who viewed the ads, who applied, and how far they got in the hiring process. Your metrics should have a clearly articulated purpose, should be treated as a standard for benchmarking, should be measurable or actionable, and can be categorized as operational or performance feedback. 

Keeping a real-time, ongoing report and understanding your funnel metrics and stages provide valuable insights into the company’s efforts. Transparency of these results holds the company accountable and demonstrates how well the commitment to D&I is being implemented.

Get the basics right

A good way to start is by taking a look at your employee makeup and culture and putting together a panel to get a clear view from different perspectives to evaluate your current state.  Whatever your reality is, that’s what you should showcase. If you are at the beginning of your diversity journey, call that out. If you are more mature in your diversity journey, you should be inviting candidates to check you out.

After you’ve established a baseline and aligned your culture, it’s time to recruit. 

Review job ads to be sure they are straightforward and use neutral language; technology tools like Get-Optimal and Textio not only optimize your job ads, but mitigate subconscious biases. 

Including a diversity and inclusion statement in your job posting the same as you would about other benefits like medical or retirement sends the message that diversity is baked into the culture. It is important that it is obvious diversity is not something you do, it is who you are and how you act.

There’s more to diversity recruiting than posting ads on diversity job sites

Once you are happy with your ad, make sure it is reaching the right people by distributing it across diversity and niche job sites. Some general diversity job sites include PowerToFly,DiversityJobs, Diversity Working, andProfessional Diversity Network.More specific ones includeAll Hispanic Jobs, Disability Solutions,Black Career Network,,AARP,Ability,,The Mom Project,FairyGodBoss, and 70 Million Jobs

However, just posting on these sites shouldn’t serve as a silver bullet for satisfying a diversity initiative. Diverse candidates search for jobs in a variety of ways, and while posting on these specialized sites is a good start, it won’t necessarily be the strategy to meet your goals.

Instead, use data to understand the audience profiles of all job sites to ensure you are posting on the ones that give you the best chance to attract diverse candidates. For example, a job seeker of Asian ethnicity won’t just look at a specialized site — or may not look at a specialized site at all — but will also look at Indeed, Monster, and ZipRecruiter. Most candidates will use Google in some fashion.

You could also consider partnering with diverse professional associations and align current employees as participants, mentors, and advocates. 

Encourage employee referrals, and consider offering a bonus for a successful placement. Employee referrals encourage better employment branding, and studies show that referral hires onboard quicker, stay more engaged, and often stay at a job longer than a traditional hire. But employees tend to refer people like themselves. So if you are already struggling with lack of diversity, this can be an issue. You can turn this around and empower your current employees by making your goals known and in turn asking for diverse referrals. Also consider asking for referrals from sources outside the company, such as investors, customers, and social media. 

Beyond that, make sure your company branding demonstrates inclusiveness both internally and externally. Use real employees whenever possible on your website and in social media posts, and be sure your social media recruitment marketing is genuine. There is a difference between showing up on a cheesy Facebook post and being something somebody believes in. 

Transparency and authenticity

I look at inclusion differently than most people. I prefer to think about alignment instead of inclusion. An environment where I feel included is different than one where someone else would feel included. Everyone should offer the basic tenets of inclusion, such as being equitable, but the most important part is being transparent about what the culture at your company is like. 

When it comes down to it, being transparent and real helps to prevent misalignment. You should let your narrative speak authentically about what you do provide and what your environment looks like and let people choose whether that matches their expectations.

While implementing any new initiative can be daunting, there are a lot of resources and support available for those interested in diversity recruiting. This is a subject close to my heart. If you’d like to open a conversation with me or simply share your views, drop me a note at [email protected]!