Diversity and inclusion have been in the spotlight throughout the pandemic with employers across the globe vowing to improve their employment standards. Building a truly inclusive workplace, however, takes real effort and buy-in to achieve. You want every employee to come to work with a sense of belonging, but how can you grow a diverse workforce? The best place to start when it comes to tackling your inclusion strategy is with how you hire. Take a look at your current recruitment processes and see if they may be unintentionally placing barriers in front of your candidates. If you set up your hiring practices keeping DE&I in mind, you’ll see how quickly that attitude translates into the rest of your workforce.
6 strategies to improve DE&I in your hiring process
Are you sorting out qualified candidates when you hire? Try these 6 strategies to address unconscious bias in your hiring process to give every candidate a fair chance of getting an interview.
Identify pain points in your organization: Before you go out and start hiring, you need to have a solid understanding of DE&I in your own organization. Maybe your company is great at creating diverse teams or an inclusive culture but when you look at senior leaders, you notice a lack of diversity at the highest levels. That might point to a problem in your internal talent pipeline, rather than your external one. Spending some time upfront to understand the role diversity already plays at work will help you better prepare for recruitment and decide what your hiring goals should be right from the start.
Diversify your talent pool: Where do you post your job ads when you have an open role? If you always throw your ads on LinkedIn or Indeed and hope for the best it might be time to consider alternative sources for finding candidates. Reach out to communities that are underrepresented in your organization and build relationships with professional and local associations that can pass around your job posts as they come out. Connecting with neighbourhood organizations can also lead to new internship programs, volunteer opportunities, and community support for your company.
Hire with a committee: If you’re tired of hiring alone, try doing it with a diverse hiring committee. Unconscious bias is real and it can derail some of the best candidates but one way to combat bias you’re not even fully aware of is to hire with others. When you hire as part of a panel or committee, you’re pooling opinions and data. Even if you missed key details that might sway your final decision, odds are some of your colleagues captured that insight. Hiring with others improves confidence in your decision-making and helps address hidden bias within the recruitment process.
Hire blind: Unfortunately, sometimes simply the way your name is spelled can cost you an interview. When you hire blind that means scrubbing resumes of any identifying information. Names are replaced with numbers to provide an even playing field for all applicants. Hiring managers only see the end result, meaning they’re basing their interview offers on merit, rather than gender or ethnicity. Of course, hiring blind falls apart once you start meeting people for interviews but it’s a good way of addressing some of the biases that can creep into the hiring process early on.
Re-think hiring qualifications: Do you really need 10 years of experience for that entry-level role? Overinflating the requirements for a position can push out more diverse candidates who might have the required skill set but not the paper qualifications. So often we see job descriptions that ask for extensive experience or advanced degrees that aren’t actually required to do the job. It’s estimated that only 36% of jobs are open to those without degrees and since we know colleges and universities do not have completely balanced student demographics you can see where this hiring trend is going. So take another look at your requirements and see if they’re truly in line with the work someone is being asked to do.
Use assessments: One way to give diverse talent a fair shot at an open role is with the help of assessments. It’s always a good idea to rely on data over gut instinct when hiring, especially if you want to improve the diversity of your talent pipeline. Assessments can help you articulate an ideal candidate benchmark to provide a fair point of comparison for all candidates. They can also help keep your interviews on track with targeted, behavioural-based interview questions and a wealth of insights into who your candidate is before you even meet them. When you hire with a sense of fair play, that translates into your workforce and company culture. Stop making your own judgments about candidates and use actionable data to guide decisions instead.
Workplace diversity starts with recruitment
Inclusivity should be a goal for all employers. It supports a healthier company culture, drives employee engagement, and can even improve retention rates long-term. Not to mention research shows there’s even evidence of increased profitability for companies who prioritize diversity & inclusion. But a diverse workforce won’t just happen. It’s important to have a plan about how you’ll support DE&I within your organization taking the employee experience into account, but your efforts shouldn’t stop there. Consider how you’re hiring in the first place and what unconscious barriers might be inadvertently built into your process. Providing candidates with an equal opportunity for all will give the diversity of your workforce a boost and ensure that you’re truly hiring the best person for the job.