Diversity hiring is the act of recruiting a wide range of people from different backgrounds. This strategy is proven to increase a company’s innovation, productivity, and profitability.
However, traditional hiring practices make it difficult to achieve true diversity. Challenges like unconscious bias and exclusivity gradually create a homogenized environment, no matter how hard you’re trying to increase diversity in hiring.
How do you build an effective diversity and inclusion hiring strategy?
By prioritizing skills above everything else – talent assessments enable hiring managers to do just that. For example, objective testing helps recruiters focus on a candidate’s SEO copywriting skills rather than their educational background.
These tests also build a healthy, inclusive culture in which employees are valued for their skills, not their experience or connections.
This blog discusses the challenges of diversity hiring and how talent assessments help you solve them.
Diversity hiring is taking steps to actively ensure marginalized groups are equally included in the recruitment process. This usually means that a hiring manager takes care in the hiring process to reduce bias against gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, and disability.
Common diversity hiring practices include:
Inclusive terminology, particularly in job descriptions
The goal of diversity hiring isn’t always to increase diversity metrics. Many companies adopt these tactics simply to reduce bias and find the best candidates.
Diversity hiring practices are crucial for securing top talent and providing opportunities for qualified candidates, regardless of their backgrounds.
These three factors also impact the ASD employment gap.
Fair hiring is imperative in the modern era when social issues and protests are shaking the world. Corporate social justice is important to employees and candidates, which means it should be important to your company.
Diversity hiring has impactful benefits:
Helps you find professionals in underserved areas
Widens the talent pool
Positively affects your CSR strategy
Let’s quickly touch on that last point: Facilitating the inclusion of diverse candidates in your hiring process broadens your talent pool massively.
For example, your talent pool would include millions more candidates if you’re hiring Gen Z workers for an entry-level position because they’re the most ethnically diverse generation to date.
When building a diversity and inclusion hiring strategy, it’s important to know what the difference is between the two terms.
A quick explanation is that diversity is the “what” and inclusion is the “how,” – but let’s look at a comparison:
- Refers to the differences between people, including social, racial, cultural, age, ability, and background
- The concept of bringing different people together in the workplace
- Refers to the efforts, initiatives, policies, and attitudes that make marginalized people feel welcomed and accepted
- The strategies that help unlock the benefits of diversity in the workplace
If you’re interested in a deep dive into the subject, read our diversity and inclusion hiring guide for more insights.
Diversity in hiring is essential in every company, but it brings its own challenges to overcome.
First, there are a few common mistakes companies make when implementing diversity hiring strategies:
Valuing diversity but not taking action
Introducing diversity hiring initiatives but not removing traditional practices that act as bottlenecks (like resumes)
Aiming to increase diversity but not expanding your outreach
This last point happens when organizations want to boost diversity but don’t take the time to post on unique job boards, adopt remote policies to reach more candidates, or partner with minority-serving organizations.
For example, a company looking to widen its talent pool might work with an organization that connects it to neurodivergent candidates and helps with hiring people with disabilities.
Besides the common mistakes, diversity hiring has difficulties that get in the way of true inclusion. Here’s a quick summary:
Unconscious bias is damaging and hard to catch
DE&I targets are problematic
Some companies aren’t diverse enough
Unconscious bias is detrimental – and it's easily missed and unchecked.
This bias is innate and natural, usually to help us make quick decisions, but it’s damaging when choosing job candidates.
One of the most dangerous parts of unconscious bias is that people think it isn’t prevalent or that it doesn’t affect them and their workplace.
A startling report from Gallup found one in four Black and Hispanic workers say they face discrimination at work, but only 15% of White workers experience discrimination.
Further, 75% of Black workers and 61% of Hispanic workers say discrimination is based on their race, but only 42% of White workers reported the same.
Unconscious bias affects everyone, even the most mindful and well-intentioned people.
It especially crops up in traditional hiring practices due to:
Years of experience requirements
For example, a hiring manager may reject a candidate after the interview because they didn’t make eye contact, had trouble responding to questions on the fly, and didn’t “seem excited enough.”
These points have nothing to do with their capabilities.
Traditional hiring is full of these bias-ridden processes. According to TestGorilla’s State of Skills-Based Hiring 2022 report, more than 30% of companies that don’t use skills-based hiring practices have no documented processes to reduce unconscious bias.
Companies hiring for diversity often use diversity targets…and they aren't even that effective.
DE&I targets have some prominent issues, such as making “token” diverse hires, setting unrealistic goals, and not understanding your own diverse makeup from the start.
It’s important to understand how to properly measure diversity hiring goals. They’re a key part of your overall DE&I metrics.
Here are a few important diversity metrics for the hiring process:
For in-depth insights on how to measure diversity goals, read our blog on diversity and inclusion metrics.
Many candidates want to work for diverse companies; if your company isn't, you may struggle to secure diverse talent.
A survey by Glassdoor found 76% of workers say a diverse workforce is an important factor when considering where to work.
But the number increases when you ask marginalized workers. Around 80% of Black, Hispanic, and LGBTQ+ workers say the same thing.
This can make your recruitment bottlenecks even worse. If college degree requirements are keeping certain candidates out of your workforce, they’re causing a ripple effect and preventing countless more candidates from even considering your company.
Talent assessments are a key diversity and inclusion hiring strategy.
These assessments focus on skills and personality, so you don’t need to focus on bias-filled processes like screening resumes and Googling colleges.
Evaluating candidates with skills tests not only removes diversity barriers – it also improves hiring efficiency and effectiveness.
This means you can maintain inclusive hiring practices even when vetting hundreds of candidates during high volume hiring.
Hiring people for their skills naturally builds an inclusive, accepting company culture in which people are valued for their abilities.
Skills-based hiring practices encourage the mentality that every employee is appreciated for their performance and skills, not their connections or years of experience.
This nurtures a diverse workforce by supporting everyone in the company and making them feel seen and heard. This idea is the essence of inclusiveness.
The more you foster this inclusivity, the more you promote an environment of psychological safety.
Workers are much more likely to submit creative ideas when they know they won’t be heavily criticized.
Talent assessments greatly reduce unconscious bias by removing numerous problematic parts of a traditional hiring process:
Applications: An opportunity for candidates to be judged by their names, ages, or gender
Resumes: These documents hold many chances for bias, including age, photo, name, gender, years of experience, and work gaps
Unstructured interviews: Interviews without pre-determined success criteria rely on factors like charisma and confidence to judge a candidate
Talent assessments like skills tests help you get rid of applications and resumes, and structured interviews help you build a better, more effective interview process.
These assessments help you cut through the noise and get down to the only important detail: whether the candidate performs well in your open role.
This is related to our next point.
Traditional methods act as a barrier to diversity hiring, and talent assessments help you break that barrier down.
Testing candidates’ skills enables you to remove barriers like judgment against work gaps and requirements for college degree and years of experience.
These barriers impact diversity hiring more than you’d think:
24.9% of disabled people had a degree as their highest qualification compared with 42.7% of non-disabled people – and 13.3% of disabled people had no qualifications at all.
76% of Black candidates and 81% of Hispanic candidates don’t possess a four-year degree
Of workers with a 24-month or longer work gap in their history, 71.8% are women
Talent assessments enable you to get rid of these bottlenecks because you don’t need to look for strict certifications or extensive work history.
If you need diverse teams to bring in more diversity, it may seem like a catch-22 – but there’s a great answer to that problem.
Talent assessments boost workplace diversity by focusing on skills and competencies, which eliminates reliance on diversity-stifling tactics. In fact, our report found that 91.1% of companies that used skills-based hiring in 2022 increased their diversity.
This enables you to build up a diverse workforce that, in turn, attracts a more diverse talent pool.
We aren’t all talk – we have some keen diversity hiring best practices that leverage talent assessments.
Let’s take a look at six top diversity hiring strategies and how to use them.
1. Use talent assessments to gauge skills without considering personal details
Evaluate skills objectively to increase diversity and find quality candidates
2. Use culture add assessments to make diversity flourish
Stop using diversity-stifling culture fit and broaden your team’s perspectives with culture add
3. Use skills tests to determine clear, objective criteria
Determine your specific hiring needs with skills tests
Ask for the necessary skills instead of always asking for experience and degrees
4. Give bias-ridden resumes the boot
Use talent assessments to evaluate candidates and toss away your reliance on resumes
5. Reach beyond your borders and find remote candidates
Use remote-friendly talent assessments to hire employees who want and need flexible work
6. Gauge language proficiency to include multilingual candidates
Expand your reach by evaluating language proficiency instead of asking for “native speakers only”
The most important part of diversity hiring is recruiting workers without considering details that aren’t related to the job, such as age, gender, and race.
Talent assessments enable hiring managers to gauge skills and personality objectively, leading to fairer and more diverse hires.
Here’s how to do it with TestGorilla’s assessments.
With talent assessments, each candidate takes a series of skills tests to evaluate their skills and competencies. After candidates finish their assessments, you can sort the results by test score to find the best:
The top candidates are immediately sorted without any human bias – just raw capabilities.
This process not only gives you more diversity but also reduces mis-hires by finding the most suitable workers. According to our report, 92.5% of organizations that use skills-based hiring see a reduction in mis-hires.
Culture fit is a traditional way to gauge if a candidate is suitable for a role, but it’s damaging to your diversity and inclusion hiring strategy.
This practice groups similar people and rejects those who aren’t a “fit,” which stifles diversity by encouraging a homogenized company. It’s exclusive and detrimental to your organization.
A direct contrast is culture add. This practice finds people with similar values and adds them to your culture. This encourages diversity and increases problem-solving and innovation.
You can gauge this in a candidate with our Culture Add test. This test asks you to fill out a questionnaire to build your company’s ideals and values, and then evaluates candidates based on that.
Culture add is the future of hiring because it finds unifying factors but still leaves room for diversity to flourish.
Talent assessments help you discover your true hiring needs.
You can assess your current workforce with skills tests to determine strengths and skills gaps. This tells you what your new employees need to be successful in their roles, so you don’t need to ask for four-year degrees and five years of experience.
Talent assessments give you clear recruitment criteria so you can build skills-based job descriptions that describe the hard and soft skills necessary for the role.
For example, your results show most of your junior marketers have similar skills. You use this information to inform your job description.
The results also show that you have few team members with TikTok marketing skills, so you include that in the job posting to fill that skill gap.
This practice makes underrepresented groups of people more likely to apply for your role because rather than scanning through a list of required certifications, they see a list of skills they possess.
Resumes are notorious in the hiring world. Hiring managers are always a little bit unsure whether or not candidates are lying on them.
This makes them unreliable screening methods at best, but at their worst, they’re a breeding ground for unconscious bias.
So why do we still use them?
Our survey shows that 44.6% of employers only rank candidates on years of experience because they have no other way to gauge capabilities.
We can change that.
Technology has enabled skills-based hiring in a big way, giving us a reliable, data-driven method to evaluate a candidate’s skills. So there’s no need for resumes.
Companies like Tesla, Accenture, and LinkedIn see the merit in this strategy. All three have dropped reliance on resumes in favor of cognitive ability tests.
These tests not only enable you to get rid of resumes and boost your diversity hiring strategies; they also deliver better outcomes. One study found that cognitive ability tests and structured interviews ranked highest in predicting job performance, both at 26%.
Offering remote work opens up opportunities to a diverse pool of candidates, and some of them are exclusively remote.
These workers include:
International candidates: Remote work makes recruiting internationally simple, so you can harness countless job seekers in other countries.
Rural candidates: Many people in rural areas don’t have the time or energy to commute far. This demographic is steadily becoming more ethnically diverse over time.
Working parents: A large number of working parents need remote work to care for their children and juggle work responsibilities.
Disabled candidates: A lot of disabled candidates leverage remote work due to mobility issues, but social anxiety is another factor that leads them to take up remote work.
Some companies struggle with offering flexible work and hiring remote employees, but pre-employment testing makes it easy.
Talent assessments are the best method for remote recruitment. They enable you to fully evaluate individuals without relying on any in-person methods.
We ourselves are a fine example of this: TestGorilla hires all of its employees with its own talent assessments, and we’re a 100% remote team with employees across six continents and 48 countries.
Many companies list “native language speaker” as a requirement in a job ad. In some areas, this practice is illegal, but organizations continue to do it in hopes of finding potential candidates who speak their team’s language.
This practice stifles diversity hiring because you’re not excluding candidates on language proficiency – you’re excluding candidates based on where they were born.
You can gauge the language proficiency you need by leveraging language tests. These talent assessments objectively measure language skills, so you can include more multilingual individuals in your talent pool.
Further, not every role requires advanced proficiency in a language.
It’s important to evaluate how proficient a successful hire needs to be in a certain role so you can choose the right language test. For example, you might not need a candidate who has fluent Spanish skills, just intermediate.
This might also affect where you set the bar for success in your assessments.
Let’s quickly take a look at some diversity hiring best practices outside of talent assessments.
The more viewpoints represented in your hiring team, the more diversity in your decisions.
Having a diverse hiring panel reduces unconscious bias and gives you a wider range of opinions and perspectives.
For example, a hiring panel with a woman of color and a disabled person increases the likelihood of a fair, equal opportunity for people of color, women, and disabled candidates.
If you want a diverse staff, you have to use diverse recruitment strategies.
Try a variety of different sourcing channels, such as job boards and communities that help marginalized workers. This includes hiring communities and minority-serving educational institutions.
It’s also a good idea to leverage employee referral programs because many of your current staff may know stellar diverse talent.
Your employer branding tells candidates about the value you bring as an employer.
In the case of diversity hiring, a well-developed employer brand shows them you have a reputation for hiring people of all backgrounds and providing them with a healthy environment.
Plus, if having a diverse workforce attracts marginalized job seekers, the job seekers have to know about your company’s reputation in the first place.
Are there specific laws for diversity hiring? Is diversity hiring legal?
Yes, but you still need to be compliant with existing recruitment laws, such as discrimination and equal pay laws.
This means that you need to keep your process broad and inclusive – you can’t specifically seek out a certain gender or minority group and only recruit them (which would also undermine your reputation as an inclusive employer).
Always speak to a legal professional before proceeding with your diversity hiring practices to be certain that you’re following the laws.
The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. If you have any questions about diversity hiring in your area, please consult with a lawyer.
Hiring for diversity and inclusion is a charged strategy that equips your workforce with increased innovation, widening your talent pool at the same time.
It has its share of challenges, but they aren’t anything that can stand up to the power of skills-based hiring and talent assessments.
Talent assessments help you gauge real skills, toss away unnecessary job requirements, and reduce damaging hiring biases.
To learn more about unconscious bias, read our guide on how to mitigate bias in hiring.
If you’d like to check out our database of more than 300 talent assessments, head over to our test library.
Curtin, Melanie. (June 27, 2018). "The Resume Is Dead. Here's What Innovative Companies (Including Tesla) Are Using to Hire Instead". Inc. Retrieved September 12, 2023. https://www.inc.com/melanie-curtin/resumes-dont-help-you-hire-innovative-people-but-this-does-hint-teslas-doing-it.html
Bock, Laszlo. (April 7, 2015). "Here's Google's Secret to Hiring the Best People". Wired. Retrieved September 12, 2023. https://www.wired.com/2015/04/hire-like-google/
Johnson, Kenneth; Lichter, Daniel. (May 25, 2022). "Growing Racial Diversity in Rural America: Results from the 2020 Census". University of New Hampshire. Retrieved September 12, 2023. https://carsey.unh.edu/publication/growing-racial-diversity-in-rural-america
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