Diversity and inclusion

Improve your diversity recruiting strategy [5 improvements]

Companies are taking steps in the right direction with their diversity recruiting strategies. But there's still a long way to go. Here are 5 actionable strategies from leading brands that you should include in your hiring toolkit.

Noah Edis

Published on 

December 2, 2022

Updated on 

Time to Read

mins read time

Growing and retaining a diverse workforce is a challenge that almost every company struggles with. Companies are proactively seeking candidates from different groups, including but not limited to women, minorities, veterans, and the LGBTQ+ community.

A McKinsey report shows that organizations with a rich mix of employees enjoying different backgrounds, talents, and experiences are more likely to be more creative, productive, and profitable.

This article will look at some of the most common diversity recruiting strategies and ways to tweak them for improved results. If you’re planning a diversity recruitment strategy, these tactics will be an actionable addition to your recruitment process.

Why diversity recruiting is more than just checking boxes

While companies understand the importance and benefits of diversity in the workplace, many struggle with actually achieving it. The problem is that many organizations approach diversity recruiting as a compliance issue.

In other words, checking boxes is the goal rather than creating a recruitment process that sustainably builds a more diverse and inclusive workplace where everyone can thrive.

As a result, many think that diversity recruiting is all for show. A common sentiment is that companies are only interested in the “token” minorities rather than creating a more holistic approach to diversity and inclusion.

As an anonymous HR Director on Reddit shares, “They’re not looking for diversity. They're looking to look diverse without actually being it. Tokenism, all of it.”

This issue perpetuates the idea that companies are only interested in meeting quotas to instead of making a real commitment to workplace diversity. It sets up an us vs. them mentality, where people from underrepresented groups feel like they’re only being hired to check boxes. It feels demeaning to find out you were hired because of your ethnicity, sexual orientation, or background instead of your merit.

Diversity recruiting is more than that; it should be an integral part of your talent acquisition strategy. Just as you target specific skills when recruiting for a role, you should also be intentional in finding job seekers who also happen to come from underrepresented groups.

When done correctly, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) recruiting can help you build a robust talent pipeline, improve retention rates, and foster a diverse and inclusive culture.

How do you recruit more diverse candidates?

Most diversity recruiting strategies have become stale and outdated. As such, they’re no longer effective. A common tactic is to change job postings to add language that encourages candidates from underrepresented groups or diverse backgrounds to apply. They’ll have wording such as “women and minorities are encouraged to apply.”

While this is a step in the right direction, it’s not enough. For one, it does nothing to address unconscious biases throughout the hiring process. Even if it can help you reach a wider pool of candidates, it’s not always the most effective way to find the best talent.

Some of the most common diversity recruiting tactics that companies use are:

  • Posting job openings on specialized and diversity-focused job boards.
  • Incorporating inclusive language in job descriptions.
  • Implementing a blind hiring program.
  • Hosting events and career fairs at colleges and universities with large minority populations.
  • Reaching out to professional organizations that represent underrepresented groups.
  • Encouraging your diverse employees to refer their connections.

While these are all excellent strategies to consider, they need to be a part of a unified DEI strategy to harness their full potential. Otherwise, you are just implementing short-term fixes without moving the needle on building a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Companies that are getting diversity recruiting right

Many companies support the idea of diversity, but it's rare to find an organization that's actually doing something about it.

However, there are standout companies that are taking active measures to champion their diversity and inclusion recruiting initiatives:

Atlassian

As a global tech company, Atlassian is committed to building an inclusive culture where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.

Its former Global Head of Diversity & Belonging, Audrey Blanche, points out some of the company’s key practices, such as creating a diverse founding team, standardizing evaluations on hiring and promotions, considering an applicant’s potential and not just experience, and highlighting a diverse set of employees on their website.

Citigroup 

Aside from setting up 10 employee-based communities that are meant to represent different demographics, each of these groups is also co-headed by one of the company’s senior leadership teams to embed diversity from the top down.

Citigroup also launched the Early Identification Program, where college females and minorities undergo pre-interview mentor programs and accelerated interviews to form a diverse talent pool for their Summer Analyst Program.

IBM

With over 280,000 employees globally, IBM is one of the world's largest employers that has partnered with the World Economic Forum to combat racial injustice.

P-TECH schools, a new model of public education initiated by the company, allow students from underserved backgrounds to earn high school diplomas and associate’s degrees in STEM disciplines completely for free.

Aside from this, the company offers an apprenticeship program for minorities interested in tech jobs, as well as learning opportunities to train, develop, and hire one million Black Americans over the next decade.

Slack

The leading communication platform for businesses, has also made a public commitment to becoming a diverse and inclusive company.

Slack uses AI technology to screen for unconscious bias in job descriptions and candidate feedback, setting defined candidate criteria and asking the same interview questions regardless of gender, race, or background. 

Another noteworthy initiative is their partnership with coding bootcamps to recruit and hire exceptional talents from underrepresented groups.

YUM! Brands

As a multi-billion fast-food corporation that owns popular restaurant chains like KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut, YUM! Brands has become a leader in the diversity recruiting space.

The company implemented a 30% diverse candidate representation policy, which pushed them to partner with various diversity organizations to extend job openings and offer learning opportunities to underrepresented groups.

Recently, they also co-led a student-run case competition called JLCC Experiential Engagements, which pairs students with corporations to generate racial justice initiatives for Taco Bell, the featured company during its first run.

What we can learn from successful diversity recruiting strategies

Successful diversity recruiting starts with the leadership team being on board, supportive, and committed to the DEI goals and initiatives. But even with buy-in from leadership, many organizations still need additional strategies to make meaningful progress.

So what can we learn from the companies above that are successfully recruiting a more diverse workforce?

Mentorship

Whether it’s pairing up employees with mentors of a similar background or grouping mentees based on shared interests, diversity mentorship programs can help employees from underrepresented groups feel more supported and valued in the workplace. 

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

ERGs can be a great way to connect employees with similar interests and support their professional development, but they need to be well-organized and supported by leadership. Otherwise, they can become cliquey and exclusive.

Learning and education programs

Offering learning and education programs to different groups within the community can open up new pathways for potential candidates to join your company. Be it an internship, a scholarship, or a competition, these initiatives can help you reach a wider pool of diverse candidates.

External partnerships

Building relationships with external organizations that represent various groups is a great way to connect with potential candidates from these groups. If you’re looking to hire more women in tech roles, partnering with a local organization that supports and encourages women in STEM can help you tap into a database of qualified candidates.

Diversity-driven company policies

From flexible work hours and family-friendly policies to unconscious bias training, many company policies can support a more diverse and inclusive workplace. When these policies are in place, it sends a powerful message to potential candidates that your company is committed to DEI initiatives.

How do you create a strong diversity recruiting strategy?

As more and more companies strengthen their commitment to diversity and inclusion, the competition for diverse top talent will only increase in the coming years.

Therefore, it's crucial to create and implement a strong diversity recruiting strategy built to attract, hire, retain, and support a diverse workforce rather than just checking boxes to meet requirements.

With the help of a diversity mentorship program, companies can take their DEI commitment to the next level and ensure that everyone in the organization feels included, respected, and valued.

If you’re planning to incorporate mentorship in your DEI plan, learn more about how you can get started with Together for free today.

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