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Diversity recruiting: 10 do’s and don’ts every business should know


Traditional recruiting methods can return a great deal of homogeneity in the candidate pool. This lack of diversity goes far deeper than optics: it can greatly harm your company’s ability to keep up with competition and negatively impact your bottom line.

Diversity recruiting isn’t just a “nice to have” for your company culture: It’s the best way to keep your company innovative and profitable. A diverse team brings different ideas, skill sets, and backgrounds to the table, which leads to richer conversations and more innovative and inclusive solutions for your target audience and customers.

In fact, a study carried out by BCG in 2017 showed a positive correlation between a diverse workforce and revenue attributed to innovation: The more diverse the management team, the more innovative the business tends to be. The report also showed that 75% of the 1,700 employees interviewed across 8 different countries perceived diversity as increasing dramatically in their companies.

companies with more diverse leadership teams report highter innovation revenue

Implementing a diversity recruiting strategy is the best way to systematically find and attract top talent from diverse population groups to build a diverse workforce and boost your team’s overall innovation.

What does diversity recruiting mean? 

Diversity recruiting means that you hire candidates only according to their ability to perform their job efficiently, without considering bias. In diversity hiring, you mitigate unconscious biases that stand in the way of hiring the best candidate, like their race, gender, or educational background.

However, achieving greater diversity is not an easy task. In a study published by McKinsey, researchers observed that although diversity is on the rise, 97% of companies in the US fail to reflect the demographic composition of the country’s workforce in their senior leadership teams. There is still a long way to go when it comes to diversity hiring.

In this article, we review the top 10 do’s and don’ts of diversity recruiting that every company needs to consider when crafting a successful hiring strategy.

Diversity DOs for your business

1. DO measure current diversity to set feasible goals

Before planning your diversity recruiting strategy, you should measure how diverse your team is. Indeed, you can’t hit your goals if you don’t know where you’re starting. Once you understand your current diversity you can set realistic goals based on your hiring projections for the year.

How to measure your current diversity

There are different ways to capture diversity information. Your company might already have some of this information available in its HR system, and if so, that would be a great place to start!

However, not every employee is comfortable sharing self-identification and diversity data when they don’t know how this information will be used. Therefore, information on your HR system may not be a good representation of what’s actually happening in your workplace. 

An anonymous survey can be an invaluable tool for collecting diversity information. You can start by explaining to employees that you are collecting information to measure diversity and plan a diversity recruiting strategy for the company. Then, circulate an anonymous survey. Tools like SurveyMonkey or Typeform let you set up surveys using templates in just minutes.

Diversity recruiting: don'ts for your business

2. DON’T focus only on race and gender in diversity recruiting

Gender and race aren’t the only variables to consider. In fact, diversity includes a whole plethora of parameters in addition to those two:

Gender: Gender refers to a person’s identification with the social constructs of male and/or female roles in society. A person’s gender may or may not be the same as that person’s biological attributes (referred to as the person’s sex). Gender diversity means having a representative blend of cisgender, transgender, and non-binary individuals on your team.

Race and Ethnicity: Race and ethnicity are often used interchangeably but they’re two distinct terms. Race is a social construct that defines a category of people that share physical traits such as skin color or hair texture. Ethnicity identifies people who share the same nation, language, or culture. A diverse team includes people who span a variety of races and ethnicities who bring different backgrounds, concepts, and ideas to the table that contribute to a diverse teams’ higher innovation factor.

Educational background: Educational background indicates not only what employees have studied, but also where they have studied, the levels of studies they have completed, and the extracurricular activities they have participated in. Teams with diverse educational backgrounds include people with both formal and informal education, people with degrees and certifications and autodidacts who learned by doing.

Disability: Disability refers to a physical or mental impairment with long-term adverse effects that can impact how people carry out day-to-day activities. It’s important to remember that there are many types of disability, not all of which are visible. Diverse teams provide equal access (be it to their facilities, software, opportunities, etc.) to team members of all abilities. 

Religious affiliation: Religious affiliation refers to the religion each employee identifies with. Some of the more popular religions include Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, and Buddhism. However, there are over 4,300 religions in the world. A diverse team consists of people of different religious beliefs, practices, and customs, all of which are respected and accommodated at the workplace.

Sexual orientation: Sexual orientation is defined by the Human Rights Campaign as “an inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people.” Sexual orientation is distinct from a person’s biological sex and gender identity and refers to the way people form relationships with others. Diverse teams not only include people from different sexual orientations and don’t discriminate how they treat people based on their relationship and preferences.

It’s hard, if not impossible, to increase your diversity score across all these parameters, of course, unless you plan to do mass hiring in the next year. But that’s all the more reason to keep them all in mind. Once you measure your current diversity, you can set goals for a few parameters and track through measure your progress through follow-up anonymous surveys. From there, you can adjust and refocus on the areas that still need more attention in future hiring.

3. DO use screening tests to eliminate unconscious bias around diversity

Screening tests help you focus on the skills and expertise that matter for the job. Also known as job simulations or pre-employment assessments, these tests help you assess a candidate’s skills relevant to the tasks they will perform in the role they’re applying for.

Screening tests remove unconscious bias that can creep in during the recruitment process. Common biases include (but are not limited to):

  • Geographical bias: Letting stereotypes linked to a person’s community or country of origin color your perception of their performance.

  • Educational background bias: Choosing a candidate over another because you identify with or recognize where they studied.

  • Gender bias: Expecting a specific gender to perform better or worse than average (or than other candidates) on specific skills.

  • Affinity bias: Taking a stronger liking to a candidate that shares similar interests and ideas as you.

These and other biases may hinder your diversity efforts. By using screening tests in your diversity recruiting efforts, you are mitigating unconscious bias and establishing an objective measure of performance. At TestGorilla, for example, we offer objective, skills-based screening tests for a wide variety of roles that can help you make the right decisions based on performance, not stereotypes or expectations. 

4. DON’T overlook diversity recruiting sites

When looking for diverse candidates, you want to use the appropriate job boards and communities to source candidates. There are many online resources offering diversity recruiting solutions for specific population segments and backgrounds that you can incorporate in your job posting plan based on your goals.

Here are some resources to get you started:

Diversity Working: This is the largest diversity platform offering diversity-committed employers direct access to a diverse and often under-represented candidates from various communities. Diversity Working boasts the highest AJR (Active Job Rating) in the Job Board industry and posting is only open to member companies that comply with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that protects against employment discrimination of any kind.

Advancing Women: A top women and diversity recruiting site since 1996, Advancing Women is dedicated to creating opportunities for women to work in STEM industries as well as in the manufacturing, biotech, medical, defense, and security industries.

Hire Autism: Founded and run by the Organization of Autism Research, Hire Autism connects employers with people with autism who are ready to contribute to a company’s bottom line.

Hirepurpose: Created by veterans to support veterans, service members, and military spouses, Hirepurpose now serves over 50,000 transitioning service members and works with over 100 Fortune 1000 SMEs.

RecruitDisability: This job board is dedicated to supporting people with disabilities to find employment, including transitioning veterans.

Niche groups on social networks: Social Networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn have communities of people sharing similar interests. For instance, you can easily search groups like Women in Tech and join them so that you can network with potential candidates.

5. DO double-check your shortlist to include diverse recruits

Once you have made it through the first stages of the recruitment process and are heading towards the final stage, it’s important to double-check your shortlist and reassess diversity. You want to maintain as much diversity as you can in your recruitment pipeline until you find the right candidate.

If you find that there is only one diversity candidate on the shortlist, it might be time to rethink your process. Only one minority person in an interview group can seed unconscious bias and therefore create a higher risk for a bad hire.

A study published in the Harvard Business Review found that unconscious bias can occur during the final interviews. The study showed that the chances of a minority candidate being selected for a job decreases significantly if they are the only ones in the pool of candidates. Where there are two or three minority candidates, their chances are much better. Recruiters unconsciously choose a candidate from the majority group because deviating from an established “norm” can seem like a risky decision.

How to increase diversity in the later stages of recruitment process

Use the “2 in the pool” method when shortlisting candidates for the final interview that the HBR article suggests. The method ensures there are at least two diverse candidates in your final interview stage. These candidates, of course, shouldn’t be chosen just for the sake of diversity. Using screening tests and/or job simulations at earlier stages of the recruitment process will help you identify diversity candidates who have the skills you need.

6. DON’T neglect diversity training in your recruiting team

When crafting your diversity strategy, you need every team member on board. Diversity training plays an important role in making this happen.

The purpose of diversity training is to increase awareness of different diversity parameters and the factors that can suppress each one. Your training could cover topics like identifying unconscious biases, understanding civil rights violations, and reviewing diversity policies put in place by your company.

The following guidelines will help you create an effective diversity training for your staff:

Communicate clear diversity goals: Your hiring team should know at all times the goals you want to achieve in diversity recruiting efforts. Share with them the numbers from your diversity survey and the goals you’d like to hit with your next round of hiring. Discuss why these goals are important and brainstorm ways to source and recruit diversity candidates. When you involve your team in the process of setting goals, they’ll be much more invested in helping you achieve those goals.

Make your training more engaging with role-play and videos: Explore ways to make your diversity training more engaging so the team actively listens and participates in various scenarios. Interactive games, like QED Consulting’s Global Diversity Game, can bring training to life and help your team feel what it’s like to be in a diversity candidate’s shoes. This will make them much more aware to the challenges diversity candidates face and help find appropriate solutions.

Get support from top management: Get your top management involved in the training so they can also understand the importance of diversity training and diversity hiring for your company. Top management can help you spread ideas across the company, secure funding for training and diverse recruiting activities, and generally help promote your goal with your company’s leadership team. Make sure their involved and informed by highlighting the benefits that a diverse workforce can have on the company’s innovation and bottom line.

Update training material often: Diversity isn’t a fixed topic. It changes daily, just as people and organizations change. Last year’s diversity training won’t necessarily be fit for the awareness and understanding around diversity we’ll have next year. Make sure you review and adjust your diversity training material often to remain updated.

7. DO discuss diversity policies with your candidates openly

You can succeed at attracting and employing diverse candidates but they won’t stay for long if they don’t see any diversity efforts beyond the recruiting stage. To attract and retain diverse employees, you need to develop strong diversity policies within your company. Some diversity policies you can consider incorporating are:

Personal Time Off (PTO): Take into consideration the different reasons your employees might need to take time off. For instance, offer personal days for religious reasons, mental health, and rehabilitation.

Work structure: Consider your employees’ different personal situations and family statuses and design flexible schedules and remote work opportunities, when possible. This will encourage certain diverse groups who require flexibility (suc as parents, carers, and people with mobility disadvantages) to apply and stay with your company.

Sexual harassment: Sexual harassment includes “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” As an employer, you must take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment from taking place in the workplace. You must also provide clear and safe ways to report any harassment they experience or see.

8. DON’T ignore diversity in your employer branding strategy

A lot of companies add a line to their job postings that says “We’re an equal-rights employer and value diversity.” But when candidates visit the company’s website, they find nothing about this commitment. This will hinder your diversity recruitment efforts as diverse candidates will be less likely to apply if they don’t see anything that shows how you support and promote diversity in your company. 

According to Glassdoor, 67% of job-seekers say that diversity is an important reason they apply for a job. When there is no evidence of diversity and inclusion, the chance of receiving applications from top-performing diversity candidates significantly lowers.

Here’s are some ways you can communicate your diversity initiatives to job candidates visiting your site:

Share testimonials from your diversity employees: By sharing testimonials from diverse candidates, you are creating strong social proof that you are committed to diversity and inclusion. Diverse candidates will resonate with diverse employees’ experiences and feel more inclined to apply to job openings.

Have team members become your diversity ambassadors: Your employees are your brand ambassadors. What they share about your company online, whether officially on the company’s blog, for example, or unofficially on their own social media, affects your employer brand. 

In addition to providing all employees with diversity company, you can create a diversity committee made up of volunteer employees who are responsible for engaging diversity talent online or even on the phone to answer all the questions they may have about your company’s diversity policies and actions.

Discuss diversity issues as a company: Whether on your blog, on social media, through reports, and even through the content you curate and share from others, there are many ways for a company to have a “voice” in today’s online world. Make sure that diversity and inclusion form part of that voice’s repertoire. When diversity candidates look up your company online, they should be able to see that you actively participate in diversity discussions in your industry, and society at large, to know that your diversity policies are more than just lip service.

9. DO boost your diversity efforts with mentorship programs

Mentoring programs help make management and leadership teams more diverse.  In fact, one study has shown that they can boost representation of black, Hispanic, and Asian-Americans from 9% to 24%. The same study found that mentoring programs increase the ranks of white women and black men in industries such as chemicals and electronics by 10%.

A mentorship program offers your diversity hires to get the guidance and support they may not have had previously in their careers. You should encourage all employees to participate in the program and facilitate pairings based on interest, skills, and career ambition. This will help you overcome affinity bias (among other unconscious biases) to create diverse pairs of mentors and mentees. 

A mentorship program can help you prepare your diversity hires for leadership roles that they may otherwise not have the opportunity to pursue. It will also help make higher management (especially a less diverse one) aware of the struggles of diversity team members and incentivize them to promote the causes of diversity and inclusivity across your organization.

10. DON’T limit diversity to your recruitment efforts only 

How do you maintain a diversity on your team after recruiting? Through inclusion. There’s a reason you often hear diversity and inclusion mentioned in the same sentence. Diversity refers to “what” you want to achieve and inclusion refers to “how” you maintain it. 

An inclusive culture will play a crucial role in keeping diverse talent on your team and helping them thrive. 

The following steps will help your company build a more inclusive culture that extends your diversity recruiting efforts to the entire employee experience.

Encourage networking between departments and levels: By allowing employees to mix between different teams and levels, you are encouraging communication, transparency and rapport across your workforce. This is especially appreciated by millennials who may sometimes feel isolated from top management. In addition, senior-level staff in another department may find ambitious talent in another and offer them more career opportunities and guidance.

Acknowledge and welcome employee differences: Creating spaces to accommodate the needs of different employee groups in the workplace can go a long way creating inclusion among your team. Consider spaces like prayer rooms or lactation rooms to accommodate different employee groups. Celebrating different cultures and backgrounds through food, music, dances, and other cultural activities can really help bring your workforce together.

Encourage active listening: Encourage all your employees to participate in active listening and create safe spaces where employees can voice concerns and divergent opinions. Promote healthy debates and encourage everyone to participate in finding common solutions.

Diversity recruiting done right makes all the difference

Diversity recruiting isn’t a numbers game. It’s a vital strategy for success that every company needs to incorporate in its planning. 

A diverse workplace offers a competitive advantage to businesses in terms of innovation, branding, and leadership. Developing a strong diverse recruitment strategy will allow you to source, hire, and retain top-performing candidates that will impact your business positively.


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