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How to build an effective diversity recruiting strategy

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Captivate Talent
August 8, 2023
5 min read
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Are you struggling to attract a diverse pool of candidates for your organization?

Despite the best intentions, many companies still struggle to create an inclusive workplace that reflects the diversity of the communities they serve.

The benefits of diversity in the workplace are well documented, from increased innovation and creativity to improved financial performance.

However, simply saying you value diversity is not enough. To truly create a diverse and inclusive workplace, you need to have a solid recruiting strategy in place.

In this article, we will explore the key elements of an effective diversity recruiting strategy. From building a diverse employer brand to sourcing and evaluating candidates, we will provide practical tips and best practices to help you attract and retain a diverse workforce.

Whether you're just starting out or looking to improve your current strategy, this article will provide valuable insights to help you build a more inclusive workplace.

What is diversity recruiting?

Diversity recruiting is the process of actively seeking and hiring candidates from underrepresented groups in order to create a more inclusive and diverse workplace.

The goal of diversity recruiting is to ensure that all candidates, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, ability, or socio-economic background, have an equal opportunity to be considered for open positions.

Diversity recruiting has expanded beyond simply checking boxes for certain demographics and has become a more holistic approach to inclusive hiring. Companies are beginning to recognize systemic barriers that have historically prevented underrepresented groups from entering certain industries or job roles.

This shift has led to the adoption of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, which focus on creating a company culture that values and respects all employees.

Companies are recognizing that a diverse workforce brings a wider range of perspectives and experiences, ultimately leading to increased creativity, productivity, and innovation.

Benefits of diversity recruiting strategies

Diversity recruiting has become a crucial aspect of hiring for companies looking to remain competitive in today's job market.

76% of employees and job seekers say a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers.

A diverse workforce brings a range of perspectives, ideas, and experiences to a company, which can lead to greater innovation and improved performance.

Here are some reasons why companies should prioritize diversity recruiting:

A diverse workforce can drive innovation

When people from different backgrounds come together, they can bring a variety of perspectives and experiences that can lead to new and innovative ideas. This can help companies stay ahead of the curve and adapt more quickly to changes in their industry.

According to diversity report from McKinsey & Company, companies in the top 25% for gender diversity are 25% more likely to financially outperform the bottom quarter for gender diversity. An even bigger difference, companies that are in the top quarter for ethnic diversity are 36% more likely to financially outperform. That's a big nod to the power of diversity in the workplace.

Diversity can improve performance

A diverse team can outperform a homogenous one because it brings more creativity, unique ideas, and experiences to the table. Different backgrounds and perspectives can challenge the status quo, leading to better decision-making and outcomes.

Diverse companies are more appealing to applicants

Job seekers today are increasingly looking for companies that prioritize diversity and have inclusive cultures. Having a reputation for diversity can help attract top talent and improve employee retention.

In fact, 1 in 3 employees and job seekers would not apply to a job at a company where there is a lack of diversity.

Overall, prioritizing diversity recruitment can positively impact a company's culture, innovation, and performance, and it is a crucial strategy for any organization looking to remain competitive in today's job market.

Best practices for recruiting a diverse workforce

Recruiting for a diverse workforce is an important step in building an effective diversity recruiting strategy.

Here are some ways to ensure that your hiring process is as inclusive as possible:

Audit your job ads

When it comes to diversity recruiting, job ads can play a crucial role in attracting a wide range of candidates. However, if your ads are riddled with gender-specific, ableist, or exclusive language, you may inadvertently limit your candidate pool.

To ensure your job ads are inclusive, it's important to audit them carefully. Start by removing any unnecessary demographic requirements that may only appeal to a certain subset of job seekers.

Avoid using gender-coded language such as "ninja", "rockstar", or "hacker" that may inadvertently exclude certain groups.

Using gender-neutral alternatives can help to widen the candidate pool and ensure that all potential candidates feel welcome to apply for the role. These alternatives could include words like "expert", "skilled", or "specialist".

While it may seem like a small detail, the use of language in job advertisements can have a big impact on the diversity of the applicant pool.

Your job ad should aim to speak to a broader range of candidates and let them know that your company is actively seeking out diverse perspectives.

Ultimately, the goal of auditing your job ads is to make it clear why your company would make a great fit for a diverse range of candidates.1

Target places where diverse candidates hang out

When it comes to diversifying your candidate pool, it's important to think outside of the box.

While traditional recruitment channels like job boards and LinkedIn can be effective, they also tend to attract the same types of candidates. If you want to attract a wider range of applicants, you'll need to actively seek out new channels and sources for your recruiting efforts.

One great place to start is with specialized online networks. Depending on your industry or the type of positions you're hiring for, there may be niche websites, Slack communities, LinkedIn page, or other social media groups specifically geared towards diverse job seekers.

Some of our favorite groups include:

  • Chief—A private membership network focused on connecting and empowering women executives through peer mentoring, expert advice, and leadership development
  • Girls in Tech—A diverse global community that provides programs, resources, and support to empower women to excel in technology careers.
  • Blacks in Technology—A community for Black individuals in the tech field, promoting collaboration, networking, and growth.

These can be a valuable resource for finding candidates who are often overlooked by more mainstream recruitment channels.

Also, don't underestimate the power of community groups. Whether it's a local women's networking group or a multicultural association, these organizations can be a great way to meet qualified candidates and build relationships with potential hires.

By actively seeking out these groups and making an effort to network with their members, you can create a pipeline of talented, diverse job seekers to draw from.

No matter which channels you decide to pursue, the key is to continue seeking out new and innovative ways to diversify your talent pool. By doing so, you can create a more inclusive and welcoming workplace that benefits everyone.

Find opportunities to showcase diversity in the recruiting process

When it comes to recruiting diverse candidates, it's essential to reflect diversity at all stages of the recruitment process.

This can be achieved by ensuring that your recruiting, interviewing, and hiring panels include a diverse range of employees who can attest to the company's commitment to diversity.

This sends a clear message that diversity is present throughout the organization, making candidates feel more comfortable and confident in their application.1

Empower diversity champions to drive employee referrals

One effective way to enhance your diversity recruitment strategy is to implement a diverse candidate referral program. By encouraging employees to share job ads with their networks, you can tap into a wider range of potential candidates who may not have otherwise considered your company.

The benefits of this approach are twofold. First, it allows you to reach a larger talent pool that includes candidates from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Second, it helps your existing diverse employees feel more engaged and valued by empowering them to play an active role in helping to build a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

To encourage your diverse employees to refer their connections, it's important to provide them with the necessary resources and support.

This could include sharing job descriptions and relevant company information, setting up an employee referral program with incentives, and offering training and guidance on how to make effective referrals.

In addition to enhancing your diversity recruitment efforts, a diverse candidate referral program can also contribute to a stronger company culture.

By creating a sense of shared ownership and engagement across your organization, it sends a message that everyone has a role to play in building a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Develop an employer brand that highlights inclusion

Developing an employer brand that showcases your organization's diversity is becoming increasingly important in today's workforce. Not only does it attract a wider and diverse candidate pool, but it also helps to create an inclusive and welcoming workplace culture.

When organizations showcase their diversity, it sends a message that they value and embrace people from all backgrounds and experiences. This can attract candidates who may have otherwise stayed away, helping to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Here are some strategies to implement to build a stronger employer brand that will appeal to diverse groups:

  • Showcase career growth and success stories from diverse candidates: This can be done through employee spotlights, testimonials, and social media posts. An important note here is to avoid tokenizing employees. Include any promotions among diverse hires and maybe even some of their current goals!
  • Support diverse interests: Every company has deliverables and deadlines. Are you a form over substance company? If you have certain stand up meetings and times where everyone needs to be together, consider making a schedule so people can plan around it.
  • Promote a strong work-life balance: Sometimes you will work a lot and some times you can take time off. It is a balance. After a big sprint, how do you typically unwind with the team? What are working hours and enviornments typically like? Be clear about expectations up front and how you recognize that employees have outside interests? If you're working 12 hour days because you're a startup, can employees do that whenever it suits them? Do people typically log in later and can control their day? Do you force employees to take their PTO?
  • Encourage employee resource groups: While your company grows, make sure you are providing space for employees who wish to gather based on similar characteristics.
  • Show that you know how to reward a team that embraces diverse interests: An open bar or pizza party might not be the only things that motivate a job well done. Perhaps it's education reimbursement, or training for a 5k together, or offering a Habitat for Humanity project, or flexibility to volunteer, or a sabbatical.

Overall, showcasing diversity in your employer brand is an effective way to attract a wide range of candidates and build an inclusive workplace culture.

How to interview with diversity top of mind

As companies strive to build more diverse and inclusive teams, it's important to implement effective diversity recruiting best practices.

From using inclusive language to creating company policies that appeal to diverse candidates, there are several steps companies can take to attract and retain a diverse workforce.

Here are the best practices you should keep in mind while interviewing to support diversity hiring:

Be ready to proactively address company policies

In today's world, workplace diversity is a top priority for companies looking to attract and retain top talent. To create a diverse and inclusive workplace, companies must create policies that appeal to candidates from all backgrounds.

Here are some inclusive policies that can help support diverse teams:

  • Flexible holidays—not everyone may celebrate the same holidays
  • Unlimited PTO—consider implementing a minimum number of days so time is used
  • Work from home options
  • Flexible work schedules—can you make it about finishing work rather than 9-5?
  • Paternity and maternity parental leave policies
  • Professional development credits
  • Caregiving benefits
  • Wellness benefits—Gym stipends are great but can you go beyond that in health services provided

It's important to note that creating policies that appeal to diverse candidates is not just about ticking a box.

It's about creating a work environment that values and embraces differences.

By creating policies that support diversity and inclusivity, companies can attract and retain top talent from diverse backgrounds, resulting in a more dynamic and innovative workforce.

Work on putting together a diverse interview panel and hiring team

When it comes to diversity recruitment, it's crucial to have a diverse shortlisting and interview panel. A homogeneous panel can lead to a lack of representation and understanding of diverse backgrounds, which can negatively impact the candidate experience.

Candidates who don't see anyone like them during the interview process may feel like they don't belong and lose interest in working for the company.

That's why it's important to have a panel that reflects the diversity you're aiming to recruit.

There are several strategies you can implement to ensure diversity during the selection process.

One of the most effective ways is to involve employees from diverse backgrounds in the shortlisting and interview panels. This will provide unique perspectives and increase representation of different groups.

For startups with just a few employees, consider bringing in diverse advisors or diverse investors into the interview process to highlight your commitment to inclusion.

Another important strategy is to provide unconscious bias training for panel members. This training can help to identify and eliminate any biases that might impact the assessment of candidates. In turn, this promotes inclusion and ensures that all candidates are evaluated fairly and equally.

Keep track of your efforts by setting diversity metrics

As organizations continue to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), it's important to determine the right metrics to make data-informed decisions.

One of the first steps in determining the right DEI metrics is identifying what areas you want to focus on. Are you seeking to increase diversity in hiring, retention, or promotions?

Next, create a strategy for meeting those diversity goals. This strategy should outline the actions you will take to achieve your goals. It should also consider potential roadblocks and include contingency plans to address them.

After setting goals and creating a strategy, it's time to determine your diversity KPIs. KPIs should be specific, measurable, and relevant to your goals. For example, if increasing diversity in hiring is a goal, KPIs could include the number of diverse candidates in your candidate pool or the diversity of the new hires.

It's important to cross-reference your KPIs with metrics outside of recruiting to gain insight into how your diversity recruiting efforts impact other areas of the organization. For example, you may want to track employee engagement or productivity to see if diversity initiatives have a positive impact.

There are many tools that you can use to help track your diversity goals too.  Tools like Allie, Dandi, and Diversio can help give you qualitative and quantitative data insights on DEI metrics.

By determining the right DEI metrics, organizations can more effectively track progress towards their goals and make data-driven decisions.

Tips to start or improve your diversity recruiting efforts

Get buy-in from leadership

Before initiating diversity recruiting efforts, it's essential to get buy-in from leadership. This will ensure that the team has access to the necessary resources and can navigate any potential pushback.

Seeking leadership input upfront can also set the stage for changes and investments, which can ultimately empower the team to take larger gambles to drive progress.

Many organizations struggle with implementing diversity recruiting efforts without proper support and resources. When leadership is not fully committed, diversity efforts may face limited resources or struggle to gain traction.

However, securing buy-in from leadership can help clear the way for a more comprehensive approach to diversity recruiting.

Seeking leadership input can also help the team understand existing challenges and create practical solutions.

When the team and leadership are aligned on diversity recruiting goals, they can work together to create a range of initiatives that can address potential issues such as unconscious bias in the hiring process, inclusive job descriptions, and interview panels.

Assess your current workforce diversity and get feedback

One of the most important steps towards creating a more diverse and inclusive organization is to get really honest with yourself and your employees about where you stand.

This means looking at your executive board and assessing the diversity within your current workforce. Soliciting anonymous feedback from your staff can also be helpful in identifying areas where you may need to improve.

In addition to seeking feedback from within your organization, it can be valuable to hire a DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) consultant. This expert can help you assess your organization's current diversity and work with you to make positive changes.

It's important to remember that cultural change won't happen overnight, but it's essential if you aspire to creating a truly diverse and welcoming environment.

By utilizing the feedback found on Glassdoor and LinkedIn, conducting honest assessments, and working with experts, you can build a more diverse and inclusive organization for your employees.

Partner with a diverse recruiting agency

Partnering with a diverse recruiting agency can have several benefits for companies looking to improve their diversity recruitment efforts and create a more inclusive workplace.

These benefits include eliminating bias in the initial stages of the hiring process, broadening the pool of diverse candidates, and providing access to data-driven, unbiased candidate selection tools.

If you're interested in partnering with an agency (like Captivate Talent), you need to make sure they are actually committed to diversity and inclusion.

To assess an agency's success in recruiting for diversity, consider asking the following questions:

  • What is their current track record of identifying diverse people at the desired level/title ?
  • How have they influenced leadership in the past/changed minds to secure diverse hires?
  • What kind of challenges have they faced in recruiting diverse candidates?
  • Do they have rubriks or interview guides that they can share to help eliminate bias?
  • Do they have testimonials from diverse candidates and clients?
  • Where are they being intentional about eliminating bias in their own selection process?
  • How does their company personally reflect diversity for their own employees?
  • Where do they find diverse talent?

One of the main advantages of working with a recruiting agency that has experience placing diverse candidates is the ability to eliminate bias in the hiring process.

By removing these biases, diverse recruiting agencies can help companies create a more inclusive workplace that appeals to a wider range of candidates.

Another benefit of partnering with a diverse recruiting agency is the ability to broaden the pool of diverse candidates.

Recruitment agencies that specialize in diversity recruitment have established networks and outreach programs that can reach candidates from a wide range of backgrounds. These agencies also have experience working with diverse groups and understand the unique needs and challenges that they may face in the workplace.

Final thoughts on building diverse teams

Building an effective diversity recruiting strategy is crucial for any organization that wants to create a diverse and inclusive workplace.

It requires a thoughtful and intentional approach that involves understanding your organization's current state of diversity, setting clear goals, and implementing strategies that will attract and retain diverse candidates.

By following the tips and best practices outlined in this article, you can develop a successful diversity recruiting strategy that will help your organization thrive in today's diverse world.

And if you need help with finding diverse talent, you can always reach out to our team at Captivate Talent. This past year alone, 62% of our placements were either diverse or female.

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