As the modern workforce evolves, greater emphasis is being placed on creating a diverse hiring strategy by businesses who want to grow, innovate and gain a competitive advantage.

 

In 2020, the rate at which many businesses, irrespective of industry, hired slowed significantly. Those that did faced the challenges of remote hiring, onboarding and integrating employees into the business virtually. After a difficult year, hiring is once again on the cards, and companies with a talent strategy that promotes diverse hiring will begin to reap the rewards.

It’s no secret that a diversity leads to improved innovation, productivity and ultimately improves the bottom line. Unfortunately, most businesses are fighting an uphill battle when it comes to building a diverse workforce despite the clear tangible benefits.

A lot of this comes down to recruitment practices. Business traditionally built to hire for cultural fit and seek out candidates who demonstrate the same values, interests and attitudes as they do. The danger is that following cultural fit, and not ‘rocking the boat’ doesn’t allow your company to evolve and improve.

It’s no wonder then that companies globally are focussing more and more on developing a robust plans and hiring strategies with diversity at its core.

Puzzle pieces in a pile

What is diversity recruitment?

Having a diverse workforce is one that is reflective of the makeup of society around you. It’s made up of people from different backgrounds and who have different experiences, interests, values and beliefs. These backgrounds and experiences can range from demographic factors like race, gender and age, to acquired factors like education and skills which are developed over time.

Having a diverse workforce brings all of these factors together. Therefore, creating a merit-based recruitment process that’s free from bias and gives all applicants an equal opportunity, regardless of their background, is essential if you’re to benefit fully.

 

How create a diverse hiring strategy

The first thing to consider is what your goal is and how you’re going to measure success. Without clarity on these goals, it’s difficult to create a suitable hiring strategy.

Involving your team in the process to self-report on how they identify in order to set a benchmark of your demographic and diversity metrics is a good place to start. From there, your HR and talent teams can set the goals for sourcing, interviewing and hiring over time.

Once you have your goals in mind, here are some ideas on how to improve your diversity hiring:

 

1. Audit your job ads

The language you use matters. Often without realising it, the language used on job ads is geared towards a certain demographic and certain terminologies or masculine words can ostracise some potential applicants.

The way in which you describe your companies, the individual requirements of the role, the perks and benefits all have an impact on attracting or preventing people from applying. Does the language promote a certain type of culture or person if they are ‘to be successful in this role’?

This exercise should be done across all company touch points, from the copy on your website to your social media profiles. These are all places you’re visible to potential candidates.

Blurred arrow in a target
2. Target new sources

If you’re getting the same responses to your vacancies from the same demographics, it might be because you’re relying on the same sources.

Instead, seek out opportunities to build a diverse talent pool by targeting them through the platforms they use. If all your candidates are coming though LinkedIn or job boards, try focusing on meet ups or networking groups where you might find a different calibre of candidate.

Simply engaging with the same sort of candidates in the same ways won’t bring you different results.

 

3. Involve your team

As people, we tend to gravitate towards people who are similar to us in a variety of ways, so having a diverse team involved in your hiring strategy, at all stages will be hugely beneficial.

Involving a diverse team at various stages will give you a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting candidates and giving them a positive candidate experience. One way to do this is to look outside of your immediate HR/talent teams or line managers and seek the opinions of others from different departments.

Using a diverse panel ensures great candidates aren’t overlooked as everybody looks for something different in candidates and may see potential that others may not. Diverse panels bring a better perspective to the process and allows for more balanced feedback.

 

4. Remove demographic information

Anonymity throughout the hiring process is a great way of increasing the diversity of your teams and reducing bias in the process from start to finish.

By using ‘blind CVs’ you can remove any information that may increase elements of bias, creating conditions that keep the process as fair as possible. Information such as names, education, address and even hobbies and interests can all allow bias to creep in.

Reviewing what it is you are screening candidates for and whether the ideal traits and characteristics are based on your own bias is another important step you can take. It could be that you’re steering your conversations and the desired results towards a certain demographic.

Including that you follow these practices on your job adverts of ‘work for us’ pages is another great indication to potential candidates that you are committed to building a diverse business that’s equal for all.

Red and blue erase

5. Develop employer brand

A truly diverse workforce is one which champions the value of difference and equality, with this culture fully embedded and demonstrated from the top down. Showcasing an employer brand that values and promotes a diverse workforce will go a long way to both attracting new employees and retaining your existing ones.

Candidates that share these values will seek out companies who can effectively display their commitment to diversity. As with your job ad audit, review the language you’re using across all platforms and external communications. Getting this right will no doubt attract diverse talent to your business.

 

6. Track your progress

 It’s important to track your progress and report back against the goals you outlined at the start of the process. How are you tracking against your efforts to improve diversity across certain demographics, teams or the wider business? Hold yourself accountable and make the necessary adjustments to your strategy where needed

Equally, you can use this exercise to look at your levels of attrition to better understand the reasons people are leaving and implement measure to improve retention rates.

 

 

Creating a solid diverse hiring and talent strategy should be high up on the list for businesses looking to flourish. The focus needs to come from the top down to be effective, and it’s important to remember diversity doesn’t begin and end with the recruitment process.

Besides the widely reported creative and financial benefits that comes with diverse teams, employees feel more empowered, engaged and ultimately happier at companies that champion diversity.

You won’t get it right overnight, but it’s vital that you start putting the necessary processes and strategies in place to remain an attractive and competitive company to work for.

If you’re looking to improve your recruitment strategies and would like some advice on best practice, speak to one of the Expand team today.