Workplace diversity has become a top priority for recruitment departments. The rise in diversity is related to the increasingly collaborative and team-based structure of modern organizations. According to Deloitte, companies with solid diverse cultures enjoy 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee. In addition, Gartner found that inclusive teams improve team performance by up to 30% in high-diversity environments. The evidence is clear: diversity is linked to more significant innovation and performance, and more diverse companies have higher profits.
But the topic of diversity also goes beyond business results and performance: it’s just the right thing to do. Building teams from qualified candidates regardless of their gender, background, race, religion, and sexual orientation is long overdue and a step towards true equality in the workplace.
Although diversity and inclusion (D&I) offer clear benefits, it isn’t easy to implement. Building teams with different skills and life experiences requires intention: it requires thinking beyond the boundaries of traditional hiring.
When diversity is a factor in balancing people from certain demographic groups, integration reflects the company culture.
The best way for a company to improve D&I is to set an agenda:
- Identify the gaps in terms of diversity and inclusion;
- Convince the leaders of the organisation about the importance of a strategy;
- Establish the values of the company by defining its goals in terms of D&I.
In this context, the importance of soft skills is vital to change. Companies must first accept the needs of their employees and articulate them with the business objectives, admitting and accepting change.
Why is a diversity recruiting strategy important?
In addition to being a good moral choice, diversity recruiting also provides many tangible benefits for performance, innovation, and productivity. Some of the known perks include:
- A broader range of skills and experience on your team;
- Increased language and cultural awareness;
- More extensive and more varied candidate pools.
Once a company's vision on diversity and inclusion has been defined, the next step is the implementation: passing on knowledge, encouraging employees to participate and share or establishing mentors are some of the actions that can be taken. All the departments must understand the company's vision well and know how to apply it. This is extremely important for the hiring process and during the welcoming process, i.e. onboarding new employees, to help the company create a truly inclusive culture.
When D&I is integrated into the company, it is time to measure and supervise the commitment of its employees effectively. This monitoring may vary from one company to another, but an annual increase in gender or minority balance is considered a very positive development. When improvements are identified in the area of D&I, the last step is to celebrate this event. In this sense, it is important to distribute positive D&I results inside and outside the organisation, i.e. to make employees feel proud and, on the other hand, to position the company as accepting of diversity, which is key to attracting new and potential employees who are considering their options.
For companies that do not yet have a history of diversity and inclusion or those looking to improve their workplace conditions, the challenge is to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Ways to recruit for a diverse workforce
- Write your job offers more carefully to attract more diverse candidates.
One of the best ways to recruit diverse candidates is to audit your past job offers and make changes to speak to a broader range of candidates. For example, you may notice that some of the languages you use are geared toward a specific demographic of experience level. Using masculine-type words like “ambitious” and “dominate” are less appealing to female applicants. Don’t be afraid to write job offers with specific demographics in mind to boost your diversity recruiting strategy. Let your target candidates know that you’re seeking them out, and explain why your company would make a great fit.
- Create workplace policies that appeal to diverse candidates.
Consider changing your time off and scheduling policies to include more religious holidays, community events, and so on. Encourage flexible work hours that will allow candidates to continue being involved with their communities and not require them to conform to a schedule at all times.
It’s also important to encourage open and honest dialogue to ensure everyone feels welcome. A PwC survey found that compared to older generations, Millennials place more importance on a company culture that emphasizes work/life balance. In addition, a McKinsey’s research found that the first company cultural value that women are most attracted to is a flexible schedule.
Offering flexibility such as work from home options and flexible hours helps you attract more diverse candidates and helps prevent expensive employee turnover.
- Use blind resumes and interviews.
This technique is popular among recruiters as it removes bias from how they screen candidates. Information like names, schools, date of birth, specific locations, and so on can contribute to some degree to a biased assessment of the candidate, even if it’s not consciously.
Blind interviews use the same principle as blacking out resumes to reduce bias, but apply this tactic to early conversations with the candidate. They can be accomplished by sending candidates text-based questions via text or through a recruitment platform of choice. Candidates answer these questions anonymously and are asked to avoid providing personal information.
It’s much tougher to remove all personality and bias when talking to candidates on the phone or in person, so blind interviews are most effective early in the process.
- Seed talent pipelines with diverse candidates.
Diverse candidates are far less likely to be chosen when they are the only ones from their demographic represented in a shortlist of candidates. To combat this decision bias, you can use a diversity recruitment strategy called "the two in the pool effect." A Harvard Business Review's research found that when the final candidate pool has one minority candidate, they have virtually zero chances of getting hired. However, if there are at least two female candidates in the final candidate pool, hiring a female candidate is 79 times higher; if there are at least two minority candidates in the final candidate pool, the odds of hiring a minority candidate are 194 times higher.
Of course, you'll only want to seed your shortlist with genuinely qualified candidates. After all, diversity recruiting is all about hiring the best person, regardless of their background.
By creating inclusive hiring practices - and letting go of the notion that there is one ideal candidate type for a role - you can create more opportunities for a range of candidates who are more than capable.