We live in a time where businesses don’t succeed unless they’re creative and innovative, and the only way to accomplish this is to utilize a diverse workforce.
Diversifying talent has many benefits, from providing different perspectives (and thus ideas) to more relatable representations for a customer base.
However, creating an inclusive hiring process that attracts diversity is not as easy as it sounds. There are many challenges, the least of which are unconscious biases and preconceived notions. Today, we’re going to delve into 25 best practices that can guide a business towards hiring a diverse workforce so it, too, can reap the benefits.
1. Understand the Importance of Diversity
First and foremost, don’t hire diverse talent just for PR purposes. Instead, you must learn why diversity actually matters in the first place. It’s about more than ethnicity or gender—it includes age, disability, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and even thought diversity. Studies show that diverse teams simply outperform homogenous teams. They’re more creative, and they solve problems faster.
They’re also more innovative. Having a workforce that comes together from different backgrounds and experiences means more diverse viewpoints. Diverse viewpoints lead to new mental connections being made, thus leading to a plethora of fresh ideas.
2. Redefine Job Requirements
To attract diverse talent, companies need to change their job descriptions and, thus, their requirements. A common problem is when job listings include qualifications that aren’t actually necessary for the role or excessive experience.
This can accidentally limit the pool of applicants. An example would be requiring an MBA for a position that doesn’t need one. Although having high standards is a recommended approach, it can also backfire and repel talented candidates.
The right way to approach this would be to focus on essential skills and adaptability. This could mean highlighting transferable skills and relevant experience above formal qualifications. Or it could mean focusing on potential and the ability to learn versus having credentials.
3. Blind Recruitment
Blind recruitment is a new and innovative approach to stomping out bias in the hiring process. This works by removing personal identifiers from resumes and applications, such as names, ages, genders, and educational institutions. This way, candidates are reviewed based only on their skills, experience, and potential. It makes the process more fair and objective as well.
There are ample tools and software available today that allow for blind recruitment, but removing the personal factor can lead to problems with cohesion within the team itself.
4. Structured Interviews
Unstructured interviews, where questions are asked without organization, can lead to bias. A structured interview helps to curb this by asking everyone the same set of questions in the same order. This way, more objective comparisons can be made, and the results are more equitable.
An additional note for these interviews would be to make sure the questions are relevant to the job being discussed. This doesn’t mean keeping it generic or vague—have a set of supplementary questions or notes that you can use to still establish a direct connection with the candidate.
5. Train Hiring Managers on Unconscious Bias
Unconscious biases are deep-seated preferences that everyone holds, usually without being fully conscious of them. It goes without saying that they can influence our decision-making processes, especially when hiring.
For instance, it’s natural for some HR professionals to react negatively to resume gaps. You should explain to them that people often have issues, illnesses, mental health problems, or a plethora of other circumstances that make taking a break warranted.
Implement a training plan, but don’t make it just a one-time event or a bunch of boring Zoom meetings. It should be an ongoing, engaging effort that constantly receives updates to reflect the newest research and understanding of unconscious bias.
6. Expanding Recruitment Channels
Ensure you post your job ads on as many relevant channels as possible. Whether it’s LinkedIn, your own website, or Indeed, don’t waste any opportunity to be seen. This also means ensuring your website and diversity-related content rank high in Google’s search results.
Aside from regularly creating content, you can reach out to diversity groups and nonprofits. These organizations are happy to help your company grow while you help hire underrepresented groups. You could, for example, engage in link exchanges with them, which can significantly improve your website’s SEO, making your diversity-focused landing pages more discoverable.
As your pages gain prominence, so does the reach of your diversity initiatives. This strategy not only attracts a wider pool of diverse talent but also opens the door for future collaborations and cross-promotion opportunities with other organizations.
7. Create an Inclusive Employer Brand
Your company’s brand as an employer is how potential hires perceive your organization as a place to work. It can be a huge factor for many applicants when deciding whether to apply. To attract a diverse range of applicants, a company needs to convey its commitment to diversity.
This could mean sharing stories from diverse employees or highlighting diversity awards and recognitions the company has received in the past. And don’t forget the power of social media to communicate your commitment to diversity to potential candidates.
8. Offer Internship and Mentorship Programs
Internships and mentorships can lead to full-time employment. And they also happen to be very effective in bringing underrepresented segments of the population into industries where they may not usually see themselves represented. A company that offers these programs gives hands-on experience and guidance to professionals and can help them visualize their future in that industry, which can be a powerful experience.
9. Set Diversity Goals
It’s important to avoid quota systems since these often lead to token hires, which isn’t a helpful situation. That said, a company should still set clear and achievable goals to hire a diverse enough talent base. The goals help by providing direction and making sure efforts remain consistent. For instance, adding a couple of remote team members can make this easily doable.
10. Incorporate Diverse Interview Panels
Candidates are assessed during interviews, but they’re making their own assessments beforehand, too. If they see a homogenous interview panel, it may dissuade them from believing they would fit in with the company.
On the other hand, seeing a diverse set of interviewers can signal to them that the company takes diversity seriously and doesn’t just talk the talk. Not only that, but just having a diverse interview panel means there are more perspectives for evaluating the candidate.
11. Flexibility in Job Roles
The world of work is currently geared towards work-life balance and flexibility, and that seems to be a long-term trend. A company that offers positions with flexible hours and remote working options will appeal to a broader range of candidates.
This would include those who are caregivers or have disabilities or those for whom a traditional nine-to-five schedule simply isn’t feasible. Likewise, more and more companies are considering the downsides of hourly employment and adopting an “as long as the work gets done, I don’t care” attitude.
12. Build Relationships with Diverse Professional Organizations
With the growing popularity of diversity and inclusion, there are plenty of organizations that exist to support underrepresented groups in different industries. Likewise, companies also rely on diverse networks of recruiters.
This not only gives them more geographical coverage but also a better understanding of what a diverse workforce needs to thrive. You can even include some tips from them in your employee handbooks or onboarding documentation.
13. Make Sure the Onboarding Process Is Smooth
Hiring diverse talent is just one step. Retaining them requires cultivating an inclusive company culture where every individual feels valued and heard. A strong onboarding process is key to accomplishing this. It’s not just about filling out forms and watching orientation videos, though—it’s an opportunity to immerse new hires in your company’s inclusive culture.
Your new hires will need comprehensive onboarding materials, and these resources should be easily accessible through your site. This makes essential information accessible, improves your internal communication, and overall accelerates the onboarding process. Not to mention, team members who aren’t tech-savvy will be able to access the documentation easily.
14. Provide Diversity and Inclusion Training for All Employees
While it’s extra important for hiring managers and HR personnel, diversity and inclusion training shouldn’t just stop with them.
All employees should be given training resources so they understand why a diverse workplace is valuable and how being better colleagues can significantly contribute to establishing a better atmosphere and uplifting the productivity of the whole team.
15. Offer Competitive Benefits and Support
If the goal is to attract diverse talent, it makes sense to offer competitive packages that cater to different needs. Salary is always a consideration, but more specifically, it’s best to focus on parental leave, healthcare, childcare support, elder care, and mental health support.
The broader your benefits package is, the more your company will appeal to a diverse potential talent base. If a candidate has cold feet, you can always offer more vacation days or even a work laptop.
16. Celebrate Diversity in the Workplace
Employees love a celebration, and diversity is a great reason to have one. Some ideas include holding events during cultural/pride months and organizing global food days. The goal is to help everyone realize that diversity is fun and not just a source of better productivity.
You can feature employees from diverse backgrounds or give them the opportunity to tell their stories. In doing so, you’re creating a sense of belonging for existing employees and signals to potential hires that you care about your employees and have a diverse talent base.
17. Transparent Communication
Your company must be completely open about its diversity and inclusion goals, along with its progress and challenges. By keeping things transparent, you’re encouraging trust and welcoming all employees to participate in the success of your diversity goals.
Just seeing that leadership is genuinely committed is enough to get your employees to contribute more time and energy to the diversity cause. But as we said earlier, make sure you back that attitude up with monetary and intangible benefits.
18. Encourage Diverse Leadership
If your company honestly does believe in diversity, it won’t be limited to entry or mid-level positions. Why would it? Therefore, leadership should also be diverse. In fact, nowhere in the organization’s structure is this more important.
The last thing you want as a company is a homogenous leadership team with a limited number of perspectives making decisions. Your entire organizational structure will benefit significantly by being diverse, and it will also set a positive example for the rest of the employees.
19. Think Globally
Part of diversity has to do with people’s origins and backgrounds. In other words, a global mindset is practically a requirement in modern industry because the world, in general, is simply more connected.
Remote work is becoming increasingly the norm, meaning hiring from diverse backgrounds is possible with global talent. Likewise, you must prepare for issues with time zones, coordination, and cultural misunderstandings.
20. Celebrate Successes and Learn from Mistakes
Your company will make mistakes, and it will score victories when trying to optimize its diversity hiring. It’s important to celebrate the achievements, not only for morale but to reinforce the importance of your diversity efforts to begin with.
Conversely, when mistakes are made, acknowledge them and uncover why they occurred. An honest reflection will put you in the best position to avoid making the same mistakes and help your organization harness the benefits of diversity.
21. Collaborative Decision Making
Promote a culture where decisions, especially hiring decisions, are made collaboratively. When multiple people are involved in the decision-making process, it can mitigate individual biases and lead to a more balanced outcome. For instance, different perspectives can massively help when marketing your products or services to a certain target audience. If your employees fit the customer persona, your campaigns will get a significant boost.
22. Prioritize Retention over Just Hiring
Don’t get us wrong—hiring a diverse workforce has plenty of benefits, but your efforts are for naught if you can’t keep them. To do so, you need to understand the unique needs and challenges of diverse employees and address them squarely.
Check in often and ask for feedback. Also, keep an open door policy to encourage employees to talk to management so they feel valued and that their voices are heard.
23. Future-Proof with Diversity
One benefit we haven’t discussed yet that comes with a diverse workforce is future-proofing the company.
Markets are becoming more global, and immigration is the norm. Businesses are catering to a wider pool of customers, too. That’s why having a team that reflects the future means the company stays relevant and in tune with its target market for the foreseeable future.
24. Benchmark and Compare
While every organization’s journey to diversity is unique, looking at benchmarks and industry standards can provide insights. Compare your company with competitors so you can gauge where you stand and where you can improve.
Likewise, reach out and network with experienced individuals in your niche, as well as diversity experts, to better gauge how to improve your hiring processes.
25. Cultivate Respect
Diversity isn’t about meeting a certain number of a demographic or putting on a veneer of inclusivity to shelter your company from criticism. It’s about creating a culture of respect in the workplace.
Encouraging diversity means helping ensure your workplace is free from harassment and bias. However, the company needs clear no-tolerance policies and regular training (along with strict consequences for violations) in order to accomplish this.
Hiring a more diverse workforce is definitely a journey. It requires commitment and consistent effort to achieve. Your company must be strategic with its initiatives and provide continual education and training to its existing workforce.
In doing so, you will find, much like others, that the time and energy invested in encouraging diversity deliver benefits that far outweigh the investment. It isn’t just common sense—it’s good business sense. You will help grow your business with more innovation and maintain its edge in a new globalized world.