Today’s companies are eager to improve their DE&I, recognising both that it’s the morally correct thing to do, and that more diverse companies enjoy a better bottom line. However, most enterprises are still struggling to actualise their good intentions.
Fully 93% of companies acknowledge the need to reduce bias in their talent acquisition process, especially since the pandemic pushed DE&I back a few steps as diversity took the back seat to pivot to remote and respond to a new reality. McKinsey estimates that COVID-19 set women in the workforce back a decade.
Some companies, including major corporations like McDonald’s, offer incentives for diversity hiring, but you can’t simply reward your way to success.
It’s not just about hiring more diverse talent, but also about ensuring your workplace is inclusive to all ethnicities, genders, abilities, and orientations so your diverse workforce feels safe, engaged, and is in it for the long haul.
In this post, we will share top tips to ensure diversity in hiring. But before that, let’s understand the significance of building a truly inclusive workplace.
Significance of creating an inclusive workplace
An inclusive culture allows a diverse workforce to thrive and work together towards achieving the business goals. Both “inclusive” and “diverse,” because these are distinct goals. Indeed, simply hiring people from backgrounds will not make them feel welcome and valued.
Inclusion is all about creating a culture and work environment that feels welcoming to all. What’s more, until your company is truly inclusive, you will have a hard time attracting talent from underrepresented sectors.
An inclusive workplace culture benefits employees and employers alike. Here’s how it can benefit the organisation:
- Boosts employee loyalty, thereby reducing hiring expenses
- Encourages employees to open up and share innovative ideas
- Attracts top talent in the industry
- Improves employee engagement
- Improves organisation image
Now that we have understood its importance, here are six ways to improve diversity hiring and drive a more inclusive organisation.
Create a blind recruitment process
There’s only so far you can go through the recruitment process before you’re forced to notice gender, age, or ethnicity, but the more you can remove these “labels,” the better. A prime example was a famous study of the number of women in top orchestras, which found that representation only increased when the audition panel couldn’t see the musician.
Some steps include:
Remove obvious identifying features from resumes before screening them (but be aware of triggers for unconscious bias like membership of gendered sports teams or sororities/fraternities).
Use structured interviews, where you ask the same questions of each candidate, making it easier to compare their performance on a level playing field.
If you use artificial intelligence (AI) to run the first filtering of resumes, make sure to train it to ignore data from certain sections of the resume like the applicant’s name, date of birth, address, and gender.
AI recruitment tools need to be used with caution because there is a risk that you’ll teach your own biases to the AI model, only reinforcing your current team’s makeup.
Joonko’s AI-driven recruiting platform draws applicant data from multiple online sources to overcome this risk and inject qualified “silver medalist” talent from underrepresented sectors directly into partnering companies’ ATS platforms, effectively achieving blind talent sourcing.
As the famous saying goes, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Although Fortune 500 companies present annual diversity reports, most reports omit recruiting KPIs.
The majority don’t have relevant data; according to Mercer, only 15%-20% of S&P 500 companies include DEI metrics in their executive incentive plans, and just 5%-10% of those have an objective, quantitative DEI metric.
The situation is further compounded because there is no industry-standard diversity reporting KPIs to use for benchmarking, but that’s no reason to drop the ball on internal monitoring.
Ideally, companies should set KPIs and gather data about the number of applicants from underrepresented cohorts at each stage of recruitment, when and why they drop out, and which ads, channels, and wording attract a more diverse candidate base.
Become conscious about your biases
The biggest drawback to unconscious bias in hiring is that the recruiter might feel 100% confident that their decisions are colour-blind, even though they keep recruiting white males in a specific age bracket.
An HBR study found there is still a lot of unconscious bias in recruiting, for example in a preference for candidates who had an unpaid internship over those who took a paid summer job.
The best way to overcome it is to ask yourself what you’re screening for and examine if those factors are blocking diverse candidates.
AI can help, but unless you’re aware of your biases, you risk training your models to follow them. Pyrmetics offers a gamified AI-powered talent evaluation to help recruiters move beyond their unconscious biases to improve diversity in hiring.
Encourage minority employees to rise
Implement an upwards cycle in your company. When you have more representation at higher levels, you’ll attract more diverse applicants, which in turn gives you more diverse employees who can rise in the ranks to give you more representation.
Of course, the reverse is also true. To this end, it’s important to actively check if your PoC, differently-abled, and other-gendered employees are advancing at the same rate as white males.
Mentor minority employees and encourage them to apply for promotions; too many companies hope that it’s enough to put jobs on the internal forum and wait for minority employees to apply. Unfortunately, as many have learned the hard way, that’s rarely the case.
Ensure your workplace is appealing to minority employees
If your workplace gains a reputation as a tough place to work for minorities, you’ll struggle to find applicants from underrepresented groups.
Diverse hiring begins with welcoming company policies, such as remote work options, flexible working hours, breastfeeding or pumping rooms, and prayer rooms, together with an understanding that a Muslim employee may need to pray at specific times in the day, for example.
Sometimes minority populations live in specific areas which have poor transportation links, deterring them from applying to your business. To overcome that, consider adding company shuttles or paying for employees living in certain areas to lease a car. McKinsey even recommends moving business places to Black-majority areas.
Platforms like Hibob help you map and build an inclusive workplace culture that celebrates diversity, stamps down hard on micro-aggressions like unwanted nicknames or talking over women, and encourages employees to speak up safely, so you can attract more diverse applicants.
Take steps to attract minority applicants
Check the wording of your ads; it’s been found that some words, like “competitive,” “aggressive,” and “ninja” put off women and some minority applicants while signalling loudly to white cisgender males.
It’s also important to broaden your talent sources. Look beyond the same places which only surface the same candidates to advertise in different, more diverse settings.
For example, try advertising your next job position in social media groups for PoC or women in tech.
Common diversity, equity and inclusion mistakes
While it is clear to most business leaders that addressing DEI issues, they tend to miss out on certain critical aspects. Such mistakes can reduce trust among customers and employees.
Not defining DEI terminologies
Libraries of buss terms are floating around the DEI segment – for example, POC, diversity, equity, inclusion, cisgender, anti-racism, and entitlement.
But if leaders aren’t clear on what these terms mean and the difference between them, it will impact the DEI strategies and the corresponding behaviours.
Not making data-driven decisions
Most organisations miss out on analysing data derived from employee surveys. These surveys offer interesting insights that could guide your diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. Ignoring them will negatively impact the inclusivity of your workspace.
Hence, it’s critical to keep a track of the DEI KPIs that are usually a part of the employee engagement surveys.
Not allocating adequate resources for the DEI efforts
Failing to give diversity managers adequate resources and tools will slow the process of building an inclusive culture.
If organisations are serious about driving DEI and building an inclusive culture, they will allocate proper resources towards those efforts. So, ideally, an organisation should keep aside enough monetary resources for DEI activities like internal training, investing in diversity hiring software or a talk by one of the C-suite executives.
Looking for culture-fit instead of culture-add candidates
One of the biggest mistakes hiring managers make is to look for culture-fit candidates. In layman’s terms, this often means “someone who resembles us.” This mindset amounts to implicit bias, where the hiring team’s subconscious thoughts, attitudes, and stereotypes impact their hiring decisions.
Workplaces that aim at being inclusive should be open to a diverse range of candidates. Therefore, hiring teams should develop a framework that mitigates implicit bias and seek talent that can bring fresh perspectives to the organisation.
Only sourcing underrepresented candidates from universities
Universities are great sources for filling entry-level jobs. When businesses hire underrepresented candidates from universities, they aren’t helping this cohort make a significant difference. Hiring junior employees might boost your diversity numbers, but it won’t help achieve your DEI goals.
Instead, firms should strive to boost diversity at all levels in the organisational hierarchy. This is especially important at the management or executive levels, where candidates from underrepresented groups can make the biggest difference.
Imposing DEI strategy oversight on underrepresented minorities
While people from underrepresented groups are most likely to have the insights and perspective to help most with your company’s DEI initiatives, don’t fall into the trap of believing that they alone must take responsibility for DEI.
Asking people to take away time from their regular tasks and drive DEI efforts can negatively impact their productivity and performance. Avoid burdening them with this extra task, and if they aren’t interested or don’t have the bandwidth to get involved, support them to focus on doing their job well.
Enterprises may be struggling to meet their DEI goals now, but they are within reach. By examining unconscious biases, actively appealing to minority applicants, encouraging minority employees within an inclusive culture, collecting DEI data, and creating a blind recruitment process, companies can quickly turn DEI into a given.
Using the diversity hiring tips shared in this post to build an inclusive workplace for all.
About the Author
Lucy Manole is a creative content writer and strategist at Marketing Digest. She specialises in writing about digital marketing, technology, entrepreneurship, and education. When she is not writing or editing, she spends time reading books, cooking, and traveling.