Organizations around the globe are increasingly turning their attention to diversity and inclusion. According to Fundera.com, companies that are inclusive are 120 percent more likely to hit financial goals, and diverse teams are 70 percent more likely to capture new markets.
Defining diversity and inclusion is difficult, though.
So is diversity and inclusion hiring for HR managers and hiring teams. What can you do as a company to embrace the strategies that would help you hire a more diverse and inclusive workforce?
To tackle these complex topics, we’ve created this ultimate guide to diversity and inclusion hiring.
In a professional environment, you will meet a wide range of people, each from a different background. Some of the most obvious differences might be age, race, or gender. However, there are many other differences, and therefore also different kinds of diversity in the workplace.
When HR professionals refer to diversity, they are acknowledging that employees have unique traits. In other words, diversity in the workplace means understanding and accepting the different characteristics of employees, as described by Chron.
Some of the traits that make employees unique, and contribute to a diverse workforce, include:
However, diversity can go beyond these features. Generations X and Y even relate diversity to how people think, and this includes their cognitive approaches to work. In this sense, we could talk about cognitive diversity, which can also be very beneficial in the workplace.
The acknowledgment of individuals with different backgrounds can help us understand the definition of inclusion. However, inclusion goes a step further than that and is slightly more difficult to define.
In the context of the workplace, this definition relates to the actions you take to foster inclusiveness. As you can see, diversity and inclusion are not the same thing. Forbes suggests an inclusive workforce will ensure that even if the company is diverse, “the behavior of one person does not cause the other to feel excluded”.
The history of diversity and inclusion hiring goes as far back as the 1940s and the Second World War. During this period, the United States President at the time, Truman, aimed to prevent the segregation of the US army. With the signing of Executive Order 9981, he established the practice of diversity hiring.
Years later, the 1964 American Civil Rights Act followed. This labor law was a significant moment that outlawed racial, religious, and gender discrimination. It meant that companies that had upwards of 15 employees could not discriminate in their hiring process.
It wasn’t until the 1980s that more and more women started to work in male-dominated industries. However, gender diversity and inclusion hiring did not become widespread until the 1990s.
There are many types of diversity in the workplace. Below, you can find the description of some of them.
Gender diversity refers to acknowledging the diversity of employees in regards to their gender, sexual orientation, or sex. Workplaces all around the world are trying to achieve a balance between the sexes for the purposes of diversity hiring.
Formerly, gender diversity would mean having a balance of women and men in a team. However, this definition is increasingly being re-thought in line with the wide range of gender identities.
Gender diversity recruitment is a work in progress, and the progress has been slow, according to McKinsey. The 346 organizations in their study have only increased executive-level gender representation from 2 to 14 percent.
Hiring a racially diverse workforce and also giving equal opportunities to minority groups in terms of growth and career development is one of the core principles of most DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) strategies.
Racial diversity gives companies a strong business advantage. According to a McKinsey report, racial diversity is strongly correlated with financial performance: the top quartile of ethnically diverse companies have a 35% higher likelihood of performing better than the national average than the bottom quartile.
Similarly to gender diversity, however, racial diversity in the workplace is still a work in progress. Indeed, since the Civil Rights movement important advances have been made, but change is still frustratingly slow. African-American, Hispanic, and Asian workers remain underrepresented in most companies, which means that a lot of work still needs to be done.
Diversity recruitment might include employing individuals with disabilities and providing adjustments to assist them. These disabilities might be physical or psychological.
Support provided to those with disabilities might include physical access assistance or different accommodations for psychological disabilities.
Culture and diversity recruitment means having an inclusive culture, attitude, and policy that accepts different cultures in the workplace. This also means ensuring all employees are tolerant of different cultures and ways of thinking.
One way in which cultural diversity and inclusion hiring within the workplace can be fostered includes putting in place anti-discrimination policies and adding them to the employee handbook.
In the workplace, cognitive diversity refers to hiring employees with unique styles of thinking that can drive innovation and success.
If you present a coding task to two members of your software development team, they will likely solve it in different ways. These different styles of approaching a task demonstrate cognitive diversity in the workplace in action.
To promote cognitive diversity in the workplace, you might use skills testing to better understand how candidates think and approach problems. Top skills testing platforms feature cognitive skills tests. These tests are reliable, accurate, and will assist you when making a hiring decision.
Hiring managers should be implementing such policies not only because diversity in the workplace can build a unique environment, but because diversity and inclusion can have many benefits for the business. Below you can see some of the advantages of diverse teams bring to their organizations.
If your goal is to enhance productivity and innovation, having a diverse team will help you achieve just that. As suggested by a Forbes Insights study, 56 percent of those surveyed strongly agreed that diversity helps innovation.
How does diversity promote innovation, though? Different styles of thinking, viewpoints, and ideas all contribute to a unique organization. A business that enables all ideas to be heard and shared equally can ensure that creativity and innovation are prioritized.
A variety of points of view helps creativity flourish. A study carried out by BCG, for instance, discovered that companies with diverse management teams had a 19 percent higher innovation revenue compared to companies that have a less diverse leadership.
Diverse teams achieve higher levels of professional development when managed correctly.
As your employees will work alongside colleagues with unique approaches to work, they will learn from each other. Global, remote teams can learn about new concepts from different perspectives and develop new ways of thinking.
For example, you might set up mentorship sessions between two employees with different geographical and cultural backgrounds. Each of them will have their strengths and weaknesses, and their own approach to work. As they work together and share insights and ideas, they will each grow in unique ways and develop new skills.
Ability Options states that one of the five benefits of workplace diversity is that employees will have a broader range of skills. These are skills that are waiting to be tapped into and will contribute to your organization’s productivity.
A culturally diverse team might have broader knowledge and understanding of the market. For instance, if you run a marketing agency and need a content writer for a niche topic, in a diverse team you’re much more likely to find the right person for the task at hand.
If you are developing a product, hiring a diverse team will give you a competitive edge, as you’ll have unique insights of the right sales tactics to use in different parts of the world. In short, the more knowledge your team has, the better your organization will perform.
Your team can excel at making shrewd decisions, especially if it’s diverse.
Imagine a group of like-minded individuals sitting in a conference room trying to come up with a marketing strategy for a product. If they all have similar ideas, they might make a decision relatively quickly. However, they might also have failed to think from different perspectives.
Now, imagine a diverse group of individuals tasked with the same marketing problem. These employees, if managed correctly, will share their unique ideas and explore all avenues to market the product.
In the second team, team members will listen to each other and build on what others have contributed. These employees will bring their unique experiences and fresh ideas to the conference room, which might be exactly what you need to outperform the competition.
Like diversity, inclusion has a wide range of benefits for businesses, their employees, and their performance. Here are a few of the advantages of inclusion in the workplace.
Having a diverse and inclusive team leads to increased job satisfaction, according to a study conducted by Kim C. Brimhall from Binghamton University. The results indicate that nonprofit organizations that strived to get all team members’ opinions, regardless of their background or duties, had higher levels of job satisfaction.
The main reason for this was the sense of inclusion within the teams. Therefore, inclusion directly impacted innovation and enhanced the quality of their services.
When handled correctly, you can keep turnover low by having a diverse workforce. If your employees feel nurtured and appreciated for their input, no matter their cultural background, age, or gender, they will stay with your organization. With diversity and inclusion hiring, you will retain your employees, as suggested by Karen Brown on Harvard Business Review.
The US 1964 Civil Rights Act is the main labor law that prohibits discrimination against employees or applicants based on their race, color, gender, or nationality.
Anti-discrimination acts have also been passed in 1975 and 1990, prohibiting age discrimination in hiring, as well as discrimination against individuals with disabilities, respectively. The latter Act can be considered a turning point for workers with disabilities who had historically been segregated.
These laws, along with others, safeguard diversity in US companies. They were put in place to prevent employees from enduring unfair treatment from other employees or from their employers.
In some organizations, the work environment can be defined as hostile. That means they don’t have an inclusive workforce and aren’t promoting inclusion and diversity. In a hostile work environment, the communication or behavior of one or more co-workers can make it impossible (or at least very difficult) for all employees to work and perform well.
As stated on The Balance Careers, a hostile work environment can be legally classed as such if an employee is berated about their age, religion, gender, or race. In a hostile work environment, an employee might have:
Endured this type of behavior over a sustained period
Made a complaint about this behavior to no avail
Found it impossible to work due to this behavior, or
Found it impossible to progress in their career within the organization
From the perspective of an HR professional, your role will be crucial in tackling this problem. You will be responsible for asking the offending employee to stop, explain why their actions are unacceptable and offensive, and also let them know you won’t tolerate this behavior.
There are different kinds of behavior that contribute to a hostile work environment, such as:
Culturally inappropriate jokes
Threatening gestures or verbal abuse
Mocking other employees
Preventing other employees from working
These types of behavior might be related to race, gender, religion, age, culture or nationality and will negatively affect team morale and productivity. They can also harm your employer image and make diversity hiring more difficult.
The phrase “diversity without inclusion is exclusion” shows how hostile work environments can be created. This phrase reflects how some organizations might have a diverse workforce, where, paradoxically, diversity and inclusion become two mutually exclusive concepts.
It’s important to be aware that one without the other can lead to exclusion. If you don’t look to include everyone and tap into the resources of your diverse workforce, you are essentially excluding your talent. This is how a company can end up losing the benefits of diversity and inclusion.
In other words, your work is not complete once you have hired a diverse workforce. That’s just the beginning.
If organizations fail to implement diversity and inclusion hiring practices, they’ll pay the price. But what is the cost?
The literal price that C-suite leaders are paying collectively is $1.05 trillion in the US, as reported by Accenture. But there are many different ways you can lose by failing to promote diversity and inclusion at your company.
For example, organizations are missing out on a 21 percent increase in profitability by failing to implement diversity and inclusion strategies, according to Accenture’s report. Your organization can also potentially accumulate losses in terms of productivity, employee growth, and retention.
The price of not implementing diversity and inclusion hiring practices can also include losing your top employees who are the most productive.
If employee retention is low, your recruitment costs to replace workers will also increase. Looking ahead, replacing workers frequently can lead to a lack of morale in your organization and further impact productivity.
Implementing diversity and inclusion hiring strategies in an organization is one of the most important things HR professionals are responsible for. To implement diversity and inclusion, they will need to carry out various actions.
Here are the main duties they have in terms of diversity and inclusion.
For diversity and inclusion hiring to be effective, HR departments might first focus on recruiting diverse employees. The recruitment process should involve writing inclusive job descriptions. You can then post your job descriptions or job ads on job boards, LinkedIn or social media.
Increasing the size of the talent pool also involves creating unbiased interview questions for your candidates. It’s important to guarantee a positive candidate experience for all applicants, including the ones you don’t hire. Biased questions will be detrimental to the candidate experience and to your employer brand.
You should also ensure that you meaningfully endorse the benefits of inclusion. You could make this endorsement a part of your brand by re-writing your value statement to include diversity and inclusion. Your statement should be concise and demonstrate that you are an inclusive organization.
Getting a business strategy team or a DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) team involved in your hiring strategy can take your organization in the right direction. Business strategy teams are responsible for putting together the right approaches to achieve hiring goals.
Your diversity hiring goals should be long-term; a DEI team can help you achieve them. To do this, the team will:
Annul strategies that have been found to be ineffective for diversity and inclusion
Help align hiring strategies to diversity and inclusion hiring plans, and
Work with company leaders to adjust your brand messaging accordingly.
Implement changes in the business team structure
By readjusting team structures within your organization, you can work towards a more inclusive work environment. For instance, if you have noticed that certain teams are male-dominated, have more female candidates join them.
Your next step is to ensure that all voices within reshuffled teams are heard. This also applies to leadership positions, which should embrace the input of employees with different backgrounds, as stated by Harvard Business Review.
Constructive feedback can be leveraged to enhance inclusion within your team. According to executive coach Hanna Hart’s article for Forbes, providing constructive feedback to someone who appears different is more daunting. As a result, professionals from minority groups and women often receive less feedback than men.
Giving inclusive feedback on an employee’s progress is essential for being more inclusive as an organization. To provide inclusive feedback, you should take two crucial steps:
Give feedback in the context of growth and career progress, and
Open up a dialogue between employees and senior staff members/leaders
The most important thing is to give feedback to all staff members regardless of differences, unconscious biases, or hesitancy.
Feedback will help employees progress, so if you fail to give constructive feedback, this stands in the way of inclusivity.
To promote diversity and inclusion you will need to do a few different things, which are a part of a global diversity and inclusion strategy. Below are the six essential steps to improve diversity and inclusion in your organization.
To create and implement a successful diversity hiring strategy, you need to be aware of unconscious bias in the context of recruitment. Unconscious bias in hiring can impact managerial hiring decisions and can lead to hiring candidates who all think identically, or approach tasks in the same manner, or also who think in the same way as your existing employees.
Having employees who all think alike goes against diversity, and negatively impacts innovation and productivity. But by addressing unconscious bias, you will widen the candidate pool and be able to select from a range of candidates with diverse backgrounds.
Educating employees about unconscious biases through sensitivity training is another way to create a more inclusive work environment. Sensitivity training involves getting the right balance between limiting defensiveness and sharing essential information about handling bias. This process involves touching on the topic of human psychology and mentioning that we all have unconscious biases to an extent, simply because we’re human. The training should also map out different approaches employees can use to avoid unconscious bias.
When you post your job description on your company career board, emphasizing diversity and inclusion is important. Promoting diversity and inclusion this way sends the right message to your candidates.Candidates will research your company values when searching for vacancies. By including a diversity and inclusion statement in your career board, you will attract the best talent and widen your candidate pool. And with a wider candidate pool, you will be increasing the quality of diversity hiring.
A diversity and inclusion plan helps you analyze the status of diversity and inclusion in your organization. It also focuses on the steps required to meet your targets and objectives.A plan for diversity and inclusion will involve gathering data from your employees, focusing on the demographics of your team, stakeholders, and leaders. You can gather this data by using voluntary surveys. The demographic categories you might need data on are:
Age of employees
Their cultural background
Whenever administering surveys, always give context and explain their purpose.
All diversity and inclusion hiring plans start with defining an objective that is aligned to your organization’s values. This should define all elements of your plan. So, first, review your company values and goals, and then begin collecting employee data.
Then, you need to define a strategy to increase diversity and inclusion. This might include widening your candidate pool with targeted candidate selection. It could also involve looking at your existing employees and implementing ways to discuss diversity and inclusion.
You might appoint a head of diversity or a chief diversity officer (CDO), who will oversee all aspects of diversity and inclusion in your organization. They might also be responsible for reviewing metrics and data or opening new channels for communication.
Whatever your plan might be, you will also need to think about your brand. If you are hiring candidates and want to diversify your talent pool, your brand should shine through and reflect what your organization is all about. You can leverage your brand to promote your diversity strategy, which will help you attract top talent and build a diverse team.
After this, you will need to execute your strategy and monitor the results.
The key to diversity and inclusion hiring is involving your employees. One way to do this is by reshuffling teams to accommodate new talent.
For example, a team might have plenty of younger team members and lack more senior staff. You might want to readjust the existing balance and include a senior employee to enhance diversity and stimulate the exchange of knowledge, ideas and experience.
Creating a truly inclusive environment is the next step. Encourage all team members to contribute and share their unique points of view when working on different projects. This is what makes the difference between a team that is diverse yet exclusive, and a team that is diverse and inclusive.
Employee referrals can help you source top talent and hire a diverse team. As suggested by Kapor Klein on TechCrunch, you could choose to give a differential bonus for employee referrals of diverse talent.
This approach should be managed effectively and carefully by a leadership team who can clearly articulate and communicate its value to existing team members, otherwise it might lead to reverse discrimination.
There are several best practices to be aware of when implementing a comprehensive diversity and inclusion hiring strategy. For example, you need to:
Provide equal opportunities to all candidates and employees
Enhance communication options for employees
Make sure all employees can share their opinions and be heard
Create a flexible, inclusive and supportive environment
Enhance diversity and inclusion on all levels, from leadership to junior positions
Be aware of the wording used in interviews and job descriptions
When you interview candidates, you need to be aware of the phrasing of your interview questions, and make sure it’s inclusive. Certain exclusive phrases can stand in the way of diversity and inclusion hiring.
For example, it’s important to use gender-neutral pronouns such as “they”, instead of “he” or “she”. And, as Rebecca Long states in her Medium article, even though words like “rockstar” or “ninja” might be considered modern, they can dissuade those who identify as non-male from applying.
Avoid phrases that are exclusive to the male gender. Instead of saying “guys”, you might substitute this with the word “people”.
A job description is the first point of contact between an applicant and your company. If you want to emphasize inclusiveness from the very beginning, start with the job description.
There are job description tools at your disposal to help you write an inclusive job description. These tools include gender decoders, which will rate how inclusive your description is, and will point out which words aren’t gender-neutral.
Additionally, a job description should be jargon-free and easy to read, according to Forbes. The benefit of descriptions written in this way is that they won’t dissuade applicants who have disabilities or learning difficulties.
There are plenty of phrases to use that will help make your hiring process and work environment as a whole more inclusive. Here are eight phrases you can use to enhance inclusiveness:
Person/People: Use this instead of woman/women or man/men.
Persons of all sexes: Use this phrase when you want to describe or mention a group of people of different sexes instead of the word ‘guys’.
People of any gender: This synonym of the above phrase can also be used when you are describing a group of people of different genders.
People who use wheelchairs: Instead of ‘wheelchair-restricted person’ use this neutral phrase to increase inclusion in job descriptions or when asking interview questions.
People who have disabilities: Avoid phrases such as ‘physically handicapped people’. Use phrases such as ‘people who have disabilities’ instead.
A person who has a mental illness: Don’t use the phrase ‘mentally handicapped’. Instead, refer to people with mental illnesses using this neutral phrase.
A person who has cognitive disabilities/a person with an intellectual disability: To be inclusive, use this neutral phrase when referring to someone who has cognitive disabilities.
A person who is visually impared/a person who is blind: Try to refer to people who have lost their eyesight as people who are visually impared or blind.
The key thing to keep in mind is, to be inclusive you should treat all people as people. Avoiding certain words like ‘guys’ to refer to a group of both males and females is important because it is associated with the male gender and excludes females. Avoiding phrases like ‘handicapped’ and using ‘disabled’ instead will ensure you keep your language inclusive.
Diversity and inclusion hiring can come with many challenges. Some of the ones you might encounter are listed below.
Combating unconscious bias is the first challenge you will encounter as a hiring manager. Unconscious biases are incredibly common; in fact, they’re far more prevalent than conscious prejudices.
The first step is to learn more about the different kinds of unconscious bias. Some of the most common ones include:
Recency bias, which is hiring a candidate because you remember them vividly as they were the most recent candidate you spoke with
Biases based on the name of candidate, where you make a judgment on a candidate based on their name before knowing more about them
Bias based on beauty, which involves leaning towards candidates who are considered more attractive than others
Gender bias, where you make a hiring decision based on the candidate’s gender
Once you are aware of these types of unconscious biases, you can work on eliminating them from your hiring process and from your organization as a whole.Start with reviewing your hiring data by asking questions like:
Are you hiring certain profiles more often than others?
Are you inviting a diverse selection of candidates to an interview?
Are there some groups of people you’ve never invited to an interview? Why?
You can also use sensitivity and unconscious bias training courses to bring awareness to prejudices in your company, although if they’re simply one-off efforts, they might not be effective.
To challenge unconscious biases in a meaningful way that will bring lasting results, you need to involve your whole company and map out a comprehensive strategy. As mentioned, a chief diversity officer (CDO) might help with that. For more ideas on eliminating biases from your hiring process, read our article on the do’s and don’ts of diversity recruiting.
Additionally, one of the best ways to minimize unconscious bias is with skills testing.
Skills testing gives you the opportunity to test candidates’ skills and make hiring decisions based on their actual knowledge and experience, rather than on your subjective perception of them. To use skills testing, you need to do the following:
Define the skills you’d like to assess. For example, if you’re looking to hire a Cloud consultant, you can test their knowledge of Microsoft Azure, the Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Kubernetes and the DevOps framework. In our test library, you can search for tests by role.
Administer tests to candidates.
Analyze results to see who your best candidates are. Skills tests allow you to focus only on the data and reduce noise. You can anonymize results to further minimize bias.
Invite your top candidates to an interview.
Instead of making a hiring decision based on a hunch or a first impression, you’ll be able to use the results to your advantage and focus on candidates’ skills and knowledge. The results will give you all the information you need about a candidate’s skill set. With the results, you can make a selection based on facts and eliminate unconscious biases.
Communication can be critical in tackling unconscious bias. It begins by giving team members the confidence to talk about unconscious bias. Make sure your team isn’t apprehensive about mentioning their concerns about bias.
Unconscious bias can be overlooked or might not get noticed, so all employees should discuss this openly.
Timing and adoption is important, when you’re implementing a diversity and inclusion strategy. In an ideal world, you will have placed diversity and inclusion in the center of your hiring process right from the start. If not, however, you need to build a comprehensive strategy, have the company’s leadership commit to it, and get the whole team on board.
If you haven’t, start planning and avoid designing a hierarchically structured strategy alone. A hierarchical strategy will drive compliance, not commitment. Instead, focus on each employee in your company after collecting demographics data and implement your strategy without ‘ticking boxes’.
It’s important to recognize that your work isn’t finished once you have created your plan. Not only should you work on inclusion as a central element of hiring and onboarding, but it should also be frequently reviewed going forward. After all, you will be constantly hiring new employees and will want each of them to work in an inclusive environment.
Always ensure you communicate with team members when implementing a diversity and inclusion plan. For this, you need to:
Discuss unconscious bias with your whole team
Put in place a diversity and inclusion training program
Review hiring and employment stats for your organization, and
Think carefully about the wording of your job descriptions and interview questions
By taking these steps you will ensure that you hire a diverse team and contribute to team members’ inclusion now and in the future.
Also, remember that one of the key ways to successfully roll out a diversity and inclusion hiring plan is to minimize unconscious biases. These can stand in the way of hiring a diverse team and prevent your organization from moving forward.
Because unconscious biases are often difficult to combat, using skills testing when hiring is an ideal way to make data-driven hiring decisions. Skills testing will help you:
Evaluate candidates based on their skills
Avoid relying on gut feeling and on intuition when making decisions
Hire top candidates from a diverse candidate pool
Design and implement a comprehensive diversity and inclusion plan
With skills testing platforms like TestGorilla you can begin testing the skills of your employees and candidates and widen your candidate pool. Get started today for free and start making better hiring decisions, faster and bias-free.
To address its increased recruitment needs and influx of applicants for roles that include customer support and leadership, Dyninno Group implemented TestGorilla. See how the Dyninno Group of companies improved candidate screening and recruitment productivity by 400%.
Create pre-employment assessments in minutes to screen candidates, save time, and hire the best talent.
No spam. Unsubscribe at any time.
Our screening tests identify the best candidates and make your hiring decisions faster, easier, and bias-free.
This checklist covers key features you should look for when choosing a skills testing platform
This resource will help you develop an onboarding checklist for new hires.
How to assess your candidates' attention to detail.
Learn how to get human resources certified through HRCI or SHRM.
Learn how you can improve the level of talent at your company.
Learn how CapitalT reduced hiring bias with online skills assessments.
Learn how to make the resume process more efficient and more effective.
Improve your hiring strategy with these 7 critical recruitment metrics.
Learn how Sukhi decreased time spent reviewing resumes by 83%!
Hire more efficiently with these hacks that 99% of recruiters aren't using.
Make a business case for diversity and inclusion initiatives with this data.