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How To Embed Diverse Hiring Strategies To Recruit Top Talent And Grow

Jasmine Wiklander

Thu, 10 Nov, 2022

  • Reading Time:
    ~ 7 minutes

A diverse workforce is a strong workforce. You can ensure your hiring process reflects your commitment to diversity and propels your company to transformative growth.

Our society is wonderfully diverse— and your company doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Today, the key to innovation and success lies in reflecting the vibrant makeup of our global community.

But if you’re reading this article, you probably know this.

Perhaps you’re starting to learn about DE&I (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) initiatives in the workplace. Or maybe your company already has some ideas and actions— but not a substantial policy to achieve diversity and change.

If you want your company to be on the cutting edge of the industry and reap the significant benefits of a diverse workforce, read on.

Our talent experts share 8 crucial steps to attract, hire, and retain top talent with diversity in mind.

The starting point: understanding diversity

Fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion within your company is essential. Why? Because you want everyone’s workplace experiences with you to be positive.

You also want to reap the benefits of diverse talent: driving innovation and market share size and outperforming your competitors.

But starting to build a more diverse environment from zero isn’t easy. No roadmap will work universally. It requires an investment of time, energy, and resources as well as buy-in from all levels of the organisation. It might demand profound changes in your company’s culture.

Still— it’s the right time to start. And the hiring process, where you attract and engage new talent to become part of your mission, is the best starting point.

How do diversity strategies work?

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policies (DE&I) create more inclusive and welcoming recruitment processes and workplace culture. These policies typically include provisions for hiring and promoting more diverse candidates, ensuring equal pay and opportunity, and creating a more inclusive environment for all employees.

They help create a work environment where everyone can thrive and do their best work. DE&I policies also help to attract and retain top talent, and to create a competitive advantage for the company.

Having a strategy to foster diversity in recruitment is essential. You must consciously and intentionally develop processes to embrace more candidates with diverse identities and backgrounds.

A strategy for diversity is effective when it helps your company minimise bias, attract candidates from different backgrounds, and create a safe space for everyone.

Diversity strategies aren’t one-size-fits-all

Your company, its situation, its vision, and its makeup don’t look like any other. That means your approach to diversity in the talent function and the hiring process will have to be unique.

A tailored strategy and careful steps are the only way to embed DE&I into your organisation.

It’s important to understand that having diversity policies and strategies in place is a priority. They define each individual’s experience in your company, define your employer brand, and pave the way for expansion.

Easy? Certainly not— but implementing diversity strategies in hiring is worth it. And we are here to guide you through the process.

8 steps to embed strategies for diverse hiring in your talent function

1. Assess your current situation

The first step towards diversity is understanding what needs to change. What you want to discover: any trends or outstanding data points that indicate your recruitment function favours certain groups of people or neglects others.

Hiring data is a solid starting point: it gives you an entryway into understanding how different demographics are recruited and integrated. And if you don’t have diversity data for the hiring process yet, make collecting it a priority.

And after that, an overall talent diversity audit of your organisation is in order. What you’re looking for: an honest “snapshot” of your demographics and distribution, plus any incentives or barriers for the inclusion and advancement of employees of all identities.

The audit can include interviews with employees and managers to assess their perceptions of the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Questions to ask your data

  • Which groups, identities (considering age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, etc.), or abilities are predominant in the organisation?
  • Which groups, identities, or abilities are underrepresented?
  • Are there any hierarchical tiers in the organisation in which certain groups are over- or underrepresented?
  • What is potentially keeping voices from diverse backgrounds from being advanced?

2. Make sure you have leadership buy-in

Nothing will get done without the full commitment of your organisation’s leadership— and the culture needs to reflect this. True diversity and inclusion must start at the higher levels of the company.

For diversity to be a priority, it needs to be embraced by everyone. It’s a long-term change that requires careful steering, strategic planning, and ongoing accountability.

Your success in embedding diversity as a core process depends on whether your leaders talk and live these principles in everyday company life. 

3. Get clear and outspoken on DE&I policies

Did you know that only 41% of 300 surveyed companies have clear DE&I policies?

Documentation of your DE&I policy is essential: it provides leaders and employees with a clear understanding of the roadmap and expectations. It also creates a resource anyone can refer to if they have any concerns about diversity and inclusion.

Get more people involved

Include your employees and leadership in the discussions about diversity and the crafting of policy documents.

Not only may your current talent have insights into how to better embed diversity strategies, but these conversations can kickstart honest dialogue and cultural change.

Be public and accountable

Once you have documented policy around diversity, you can create formal objectives, a long-term plan, and accountability processes that everyone accepts.

But the work isn’t done yet. Everyone in the company needs to know and understand your DE&I policy. This change requires constant communication, reminders in meetings and emails, and consistency. Externally, you should broadcast your policies on your website and summarise them in your job ads.

4. Revamp your job ads

You might be using language that discourages top talent from working with you. For example, a Harvard report found that masculine-coded words in job ads (like ‘dominant’ or ‘ninja’) make women feel they don’t belong, deflating their enthusiasm to apply.

This means that by using inadvertently gendered language or not explicitly including certain groups in your job ads, you might be missing out on diverse and innovative talent.

Choose terms carefully

  • Assess your job ads for ‘blockers’ such as gendered language and replace them with neutral terms. If you’re still not confident, you can use AI tools such as datapeople or work with an embedded recruitment team.
  • Avoid convoluted text and obscure jargon to attract candidates with diverse backgrounds and experiences.
  • Add your commitment to DE&I to your job ads to help everyone understand they’re welcome. Share concrete actions you’re taking instead of an impersonal blanket statement.

5. Pay attention to your employer branding

After reading your (now bias-free) job ads, your potential candidate predictably looks you up on Google.

Talent (and especially top talent) have many options in today’s job market. They want to know who you are, discover the company’s mission and values, and get a sense of whether they’ll fit in with the culture.

Of course, easily accessible information on your diversity goals, policies, and initiatives is a must for most candidates. If you don’t tell them, they will assume your commitment to DE&I isn’t there.

But telling isn’t enough. Candidates will check your social media and organisational charts to understand who has opportunities within your company. You need to show concrete actions and diverse voices publicly.

Check your communication channels for diversity

Your employer branding is the sum of your reputation. It’s the perception employees, candidates, and the public have of you as an employer. It’s also what makes someone want to work with you (or not).

You want your communication channels to reflect an employer brand that embraces diversity and inclusion with enthusiasm— and authenticity (skip the stock photos).

Your communication channels include:

  • Your website
  • Your social media
  • Your blogs and other content
  • Messaging and emails
  • Images and tone used
  • Your public connections (for example, guest writers or fellow guests on a podcast).

All your communication channels must show transparency and consistency in their messaging about diversity. Does it seem like too much to keep up with? An embedded recruitment strategy team can add sustainable value to your communications.

Check for diversity in your hiring process

The entire hiring process is an ad for your employer brand. Your candidates’ experience throughout all the steps in recruitment becomes part of your reputation, regardless of their success at finding a job with you.

So is every candidate getting the same stellar, standardised experience? Or are some identities at a disadvantage in your hiring process?

If you ensure everyone is held up to the same standards and treated with equal appreciation, you will attract more candidates and employees from underrepresented groups.

Showcase your diverse company culture

What do people think working in your company is like? Successful employer branding involves highlighting a healthy and inclusive company culture.

Showcasing a diverse culture is a talent attractor. Did you know that up to 40% of job seekers from underrepresented groups wouldn’t apply for a job if the company doesn’t highlight diversity among employees?

A candidate wants to know about the basics (salary, benefits, responsibilities), of course— but they also care about whether your values align with theirs. They want to know whether the culture is toxic or healthy and whether they’ll feel included and valued.

6. Rethink your hiring pool

Often companies go back to the same talent pool they’ve pursued a thousand times before— and again, they don’t find the top talent they need to hire.

If you always use the same channels and pools to source candidates (say, job boards or a basic LinkedIn search), chances are you won’t fix any diversity problem you currently have.

The solution? Looking for unexpected and unexplored talent pools and channels. Find out where talent from underrepresented groups already is. Perhaps it’s an event (live or online) such as those for women in tech, specialised job boards, dedicated forums, or Slack communities. Community-sourced resources can help you get started.

7. Refine the interview process

Does the interview team showcase the diversity you want to attract? Chances are, if you are just getting started on your company’s diversity commitment, your interview panels won’t meet this criterion.

But you want to give your candidates the correct perception. The first step is to ensure your interview team is trained in your diversity and inclusion policies as well as in bias reduction. You can invest in courses focused on diversity in recruitment or work with an embedded specialist team that already has the know-how.

And be authentic: explain your commitment to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion. Detail your actions and be honest about your company’s objectives— transparency goes a long way.

And, as you progress in your organisation’s DE&I goals, build diverse interview teams that make every candidate feel heard, welcome, and valued.

8. Leverage your current talent

Candidates want to hear the voices of your current employees. Research shows that 66% of potential candidates prefer listening to the opinions of those already working with you.

Empowering and fostering equitable opportunities for employees from underrepresented groups is transformative. Amplifying their voices and journeys on events or social media sends a clear message that you uphold DE&I values and policies.

Another way of growing where you are: encourage current employees with underrepresented identities to refer candidates from their networks for open positions.

Diversity benefits everyone

When you establish objectives and policies on diversity, equity, and inclusion, you create a strong culture and an innovative, successful company. 

The golden rule: is your company a place where talent from all ages, ethnicities, genders, abilities, and identities feels they can thrive?
Ready to start the journey? Work with us to build a sustainable and expansive recruitment strategy that celebrates diversity and growth.

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