5 Strategies to Hire Diverse Candidates

Updated: Mar 3, 2021

By now, we know without a doubt that diversity in the workplace is the key to long-term success. In McKinsey’s Delivering Through Diversity report, based on both US and UK data, McKinsey found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21% more likely to have an above-average profitability, while those with a high level of ethnic and cultural diversity were 33% more likely to outperform on profitability.

The same study also found that not taking diversity seriously has a negative impact on organizations: those with lower gender, ethnic and cultural diversity underperform their industry peers by 29% on profitability.

But it’s not just about profit. Increased organizational diversity improves innovation and creativity, employee happiness, engagement and retention, and increases a company’s range of skills, perspectives, talents, and experiences. Not to mention that the new generation of potential candidates - including millennials and Gen Z - consider diversity and inclusion the main criteria for choosing whether or not to work at a company. Simply put, if your organization isn’t serious about diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging (DEIB) initiatives, you might need to reconsider - and quickly.

When a company commits to DEIB, they have to take into account one of the most important pieces of the puzzle - their recruitment practices.

Including focus on highly skilled, diverse candidates in your hiring practices may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ve gathered our top 5 research-based, easily implementable strategies to ensure that you’re hiring the diverse candidates your organization needs to stay at the top of its game.

1. Set diversity hiring goals - it’s important for companies to set diversity goals within their organization before they begin the process of diversity recruitment, or implementing DEIB initiatives. To get started, identify why you’re prioritizing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging within your organization. Make sure the entire organization is involved in the process, and set goals that are realistic and attainable. Once these goals have been identified, clearly communicate them through your recruitment strategies.

2. Diversify job postings - let candidates know how much you value diversity in your organization! One of the best ways to do this is by writing the right job description when publishing a new position. According to LinkedIn Business, inclusive job descriptions avoid gender-coded words, such as “rockstar” or “ninja”, limit requirements to ‘must haves’ (and instead focus only on essential skills), avoid using unnecessary corporate speak or insider terms (KPIs, SLAs, P&L, etc.), emphasize company commitment to DEIB, and showcase inclusive benefits.

3. Diversify your candidate pool - one of the easiest ways to diversify your candidate pool is by simply ensuring that there are actually diverse candidates available for consideration for each available position. This may sound self-explanatory, but if you don’t know where to find underrepresented candidates, if you tend to hire for culture fit as opposed to culture add, or if you continuously recruit from the same homogenous pool, you might unintentionally be preventing your company from attracting - and retaining - diverse talent. Diversity recruiting doesn’t succeed unless it’s intentional, meaning that if diverse candidates aren’t actively participating in your recruiting process, it is the responsibility of the organization to pursue underrepresented candidates.

4. Regulate your candidate screening process - there are many ways for unconscious bias to affect your candidate screening process. In order to avoid these pitfalls, it is necessary to proactively regulate your screening process. This could include introducing practices such as blind CV review, standardizing evaluations of candidates, judging on potential instead of only experience, and creating a diverse team - trained to avoid bias - to review incoming applications. It might be beneficial to hire recruiters specifically focused on avoiding bias in the hiring process in order to be presented with the best candidates from a diverse pool. We at Skillhus implement all of the above mentioned screening processes when evaluating candidates for positions.

5. Regulate the interview process - interviews are typically the final, and most crucial, step in the recruitment process. They are also the time when we tend to fall back on unconscious bias - such as affinity bias - that cloud judgement when it comes to choosing the best candidate for the position, instead of the one that we relate to, or like talking to, the most. Slack regulates their interview process by clearly defining candidate criteria beforehand, asking everyone the same interview questions, and doing mock interviews with team members to ensure bias doesn’t interfere with real interviews. Airbnb implemented a binary scoring system for take home assessments, and began requiring that women made up half of the interview panel for female candidates, which increased the representation of female data scientists on the team from 15% to 30%. Purposefully constructing your interviews to decrease bias and increase focus on candidates capabilities regarding the position in question - regardless of race, gender, age, or sexual orientation - will guarantee hiring the right person for the job.

Hiring diverse candidates isn’t something that should be done just to tick the ‘diversity box’. It’s a practice which should be an integral part of your organizational strategy - and will undoubtedly be an integral part of your company’s success. If you want assistance in making sure that you’re taking full advantage of diversity hiring in your recruitment strategies, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We offer specific training for diversity hiring, as well as training in organizational diversity, inclusive leadership, unconscious bias, and designing DEIB policies.

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