Diversity and inclusion are not just about being politically correct. They can benefit your business in more ways than one. Learn how to promote diversity in your hiring and recruitment process.
More than just a way to be politically correct, promoting diversity hiring is necessary for businesses with a growth mindset. A study by the Boston Consulting Group has found that companies with more diverse teams make 19% more revenue. They can also solve problems creatively, be more open to innovation, and have a better company culture.
Take Singapore, for example. After gaining its independence in 1965, the country actively promoted diversity policies as different people from all walks of life lived and worked alongside each other. In turn, its GDP skyrocketed, and diversity became a valuable asset in their functions.
What happened to Singapore can be an example of how societies, communities, and organisations can thrive with diversity and inclusion. However, to foster such a culture, hiring managers must first facilitate diversity hiring.
What is diversity hiring?
There’s no denying that discrimination is still prevalent in society, let alone in workplaces. Despite demonstrating competence, hiring managers may reject job candidates because of preconceived biases. Fortunately, diversity hiring aims to address this issue.
The basis of diversity hiring is on merit, not bias. In other words, no one receives judgment based on age, race, gender, or other characteristics irrelevant to the job.
There are two kinds of diversity to note:
- Inherent diversity refers to traits an individual is born with, like gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disabilities, socio-economic background, and more.
- Acquired diversity refers to traits an individual develops from their experiences. Examples, such as language skills and ideals, are culturally driven.
What is the difference between diversity and inclusion
The terms “diversity” and “inclusion” often appear together. However, these two concepts differ in function, even if they may seem conceptually similar.
Diversity refers to filling a space with employees from different inherent and acquired backgrounds. Meanwhile, inclusion pertains to cultivating—not just tolerating—an accepting, empathetic, and empowering environment for diverse hires to thrive and succeed.
In this way, diversity comes before inclusion. It starts with the hiring process, hence the term “diversity hiring.” A company can have a diverse workforce on paper, but that doesn’t automatically mean they’re inclusive.
Why diversity hiring matters
The world trends toward diversity and inclusion in all aspects of daily life, and businesses are no exception. As a result, implementing diversity hiring has become critical for organisations to adapt.
Data from the Census Bureau predicts that present-day minority groups will become the majority by 2044. It means those often discriminated against will soon become a significant portion of the workforce. Thus, businesses must create an inclusive environment and address workplace diversity challenges.
Another benefit of diversity concerns global expansion. If you want your organisation to relate better to the people of the country, you’re trying to break into, embrace diverse hiring and employ its locals.
A competitive boost isn’t the only organisational benefit of diversity hiring. Typically, businesses that practise it see a staggering growth that’s more significant than those that don’t. Here are some statistics that may help you see how it does so.
- Companies with gender diversity outperform those without it by 15% (McKinsey & Co.).
- Companies with ethnic diversity outperform companies without it by 35% (McKinsey & Co.).
- Diverse problem-solvers outperform clusters of above-average problem-solvers (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).
Why is there bias
Before recruiters start implementing diversity hiring strategies, it’s also crucial to understand why biases and prejudices exist in the first place. This way, you can efficiently address them for a smoother diversity hiring process. So, how exactly do biases come to be?
Biases are innate human behaviours that simplify your perception of the world, stemming from your natural desire for organisation and patterns in your daily lives. Even though you are born with biases, you can change them to improve your relationships and interactions with others.
You can challenge your biases with proper education or by spending time outside your social and economic bubbles. Afterward, you can implement diverse hiring to nurture inclusion in the workplace.
4 dos and don’ts of diversity hiring
Navigating diversity and inclusion can be challenging for some. One wrong step can negatively impact people’s lives and subject the organisation to scrutiny. So, an idea of what to implement and avoid is vital to ensure genuine diversity in hiring.
Read below to know what you should and shouldn’t do for a proper diversity hiring practise.
DO make job descriptions specific. DON’T adjust positions during the hiring process.
Job descriptions are one of the first interactions you’ll make with your potential candidates. It’s what they need to see to know whether they fit your open position.
As such, it’s best to create job descriptions that are specific and clear. It must state the responsibilities, qualifications, and skills the position requires. Otherwise, you may risk changing the requirements to favour candidates who meet your biases, leading to preferential treatment accusations. Remember, the candidate should fit the position, not the other way around.
DO evaluate resumes blindly. DON’T consider candidates’ irrelevant characteristics.
A candidate’s characteristics can influence your impression and decision to hire them, even if you don’t do so consciously. So, block out information about their age, race, ethnicity, gender, political beliefs, religion, and other identifying information. Doing so prevents your unconscious biases from influencing your hiring decisions.
DO consider nontraditional educational backgrounds. DON’T emphasise college degrees.
Nowadays, people can learn from various sources of information—online, community colleges, and boot camps. As such, it’s best to base the candidates’ industry skills and knowledge not on their degrees but on practical tests. You may even encounter candidates with only an online certificate to be better qualified than someone with a college education.
DO structure interviews objectively. DON’T interview candidates differently.
An unstructured interview involving creative freedom with follow-up questions may leave space for biased input from interviewers. Again, this may occur unintentionally. So, try to standardise the interview process and use the same questions with all applicants to minimise the chances of prejudice.
6 quick tips to improve diversity hiring
Diversity hiring may be less straightforward than you realise. Your biases can continue influencing your decisions and perspectives without you knowing it. Continue reading below to discover ways to promote diversity in your recruitment process.
Set your goals
Like most undertakings, setting goals is the first step toward success. Knowing what you want to achieve can help you pinpoint your company’s needs and answer questions such as:
- What demographic is lacking in your hires;
- What kind of resources do you need, and;
- What kind of tools does your company need to employ.
Establishing goals can also help you identify the metrics for the success of your diversity hiring process, which you can use to identify trends in the future.
Use AI and blind resume methods
Even if you try to be more conscious of your biases, there may be times when they still sway your decision-making without your knowing. This situation can cause you to miss out on reaching out to diverse talents. A Harvard Business School study shows that some candidates “whiten” their resumes on purpose to get job interviews.
Recruiters may use machines to make the hiring process fair to eliminate racism. Automating resume sorting can also help efficiently sort an influx of resumes, which saves time and keeps the process as fair as possible.
If you prefer to add a more “human” touch to the mix, you may also try evaluating blind resumes. Blind resumes block out names, photos, and sometimes schools and graduations to help you focus on what matters more: the applicant’s skills and experience.
Revamp your referral programme
Traditional referral programmes have proven to be cost-effective in searching for new talents. However, studies show that individuals tend to refer to other people who look like them, which can be problematic for white-dominated workplaces. However, using the same logic, you can encourage minority employees to refer fellow minority applicants.
First, frame your talent prospects as “leads,” encouraging your employees to look beyond their peers or social circles. Second, you can provide more incentives in your referral programme, such as bonuses for the referrer.
Show sensitivity in the job description
It’s essential to make a welcoming first impression on interested applicants. Again, the job description is one of the first touch-points of any hiring process. Job post copy may seem a no-brainer, but your language can make or break a potential talent’s impression of you.
It can be as simple as using gender-neutral language (e.g., “they/them” instead of “he/him” or “person” instead of “guy”). Keep your copy simple, and reach out to some employees to double-check the sensitivity of your language before publishing these on job boards or your online accounts.
Recalibrate the reach for diverse hires
Companies must know their target audience as a rule of thumb. But sometimes, they overlook this matter in hunting for the best hires. Ask yourselves the following:
- Are the job ads targeted to the right demographic?
- Are we using the correct language for our target talents?
- Are we posting on dynamic, niche job pages?
Review your current recruitment process with these questions to help you discover new opportunities for diversity.
Make the interview process more inclusive or perform blind interviews
Employees are likely to become happier in an environment where they feel like they belong. In the interview process, pick a diverse panel and focus the questions on the candidate’s skillset instead of their education or other backgrounds.
Depending on your company, you may also be more flexible about your attire during the interview.
You may offer the interviewee rental clothing if it is not easy for them to access the types of clothing you specify. You can also provide suits for job candidates and follow a similar method to the global clothing brand H&M uses. Or, if it is easier, you can be more relaxed about your clothing requirement during interviews.
You may also try blind interviews. This interview process follows a similar concept as blind resume sorting and focuses entirely on the candidate’s skills. These solutions can be temporary as your recruiting managers slowly build a highly diverse hiring process.
Diversity hiring shouldn’t be tokenistic. It must encourage upper and lower management to be more honest, forward-thinking, and understanding. More diverse individuals from younger generations have started joining the workforce. In that case, creating more opportunities for them can help your business keep up with the changing times.
However, this shouldn’t be an excuse to focus your hiring practises on attracting the young generation. Diversity and inclusion mean still being open to the older generation who wants to continue being part of the workforce.
An inclusive workplace can help employees reach their full potential by eliminating biases and making the workplace safer. After all, one of the most significant driving forces of a successful business is a pool of diverse, happy employees.
About the Author
James Peters is a dynamic leader in the world of HR and Global Mobility. After a long career in helping businesses develop global programs and corporate expansion plans, he is now the president of Global Expansion — a company helping startups and Fortune 500 companies in need of complete and streamlined Employer of Record (EoR) solutions. In addition, James shares his expertise through business mentorship and writing.