3 Ways to Support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Your Recruitment

August 17, 2021 | Antique Nguyen

In 2020, companies stepped up their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives; now, there’s increased pressure to deliver results. A comprehensive DEI strategy should be carried into your recruitment and selection processes. But in a tight labor market, how can you keep your time to hire down and still move the needle on DEI?

As it turns out, many of the same steps that can improve diversity hiring outcomes can also expand your talent pool and support a healthier image. “Candidates now are much more conscientious about how much diversity an organization has,” says Becky Heidesch, CEO and founder of WSS Executive Search. Building relationships with underrepresented communities and streamlining job requirements helps you fill roles quicker while also supporting your overall DEI strategy.

Here’s how to attract, recruit and hire talent from diverse communities.


Set the Strategy at the Top

A comprehensive DEI recruitment and talent screening strategy has to come from the top. Organizational leaders need to audit their organization’s makeup to determine gaps in their workforce in terms of skills and diversity. While there’s more to a diversity hiring strategy than setting quotas to fill, they provide an important metric for tracking progress toward a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce.

This is also a good opportunity to audit whether your goals are realistic in your market and to identify who you’re currently attracting. Some common job search websites could be showing job openings primarily to candidates in dominant groups because their algorithms are skewed. Leaders have to be held accountable for determining these types of risks to the diversity hiring process.

Once leaders have identified gaps, they can begin investing their talent acquisition budget to fill them. If your organization lacks neurodiversity, for example, begin cultivating relationships with local organizations focused on neurodiversity awareness and support. “Build relationships and network to build a pipeline of that talent in various levels of the organization,” Heidesch says. Good relationships with diverse communities set the stage for better employment referrals in the long run.


Keep Diversity Front and Center

Recruiters and talent acquisition professionals are usually the first people from your company that a candidate interacts with. “Talent acquisition is the first rung on the ladder of a diverse and inclusive workforce,” says Salvadore Vergara, Vice President and Managing Director at hrQ and host of IDEAL Roundtables. “They are the ultimate ambassadors of their employer brand.”

While diversity is important at every level across the organization, it’s especially important that candidates from diverse communities see themselves represented in their first line of communication with your company.

If you haven’t updated your careers website in a while, work with your marketing team on a rebrand that features all dimensions of diversity at your organization. Beyond race, gender, and ethnicity, also highlight age, ability, and military status, for example. Make sure it’s easy for candidates to request an accommodation, and add statements of inclusion to your site and applications.


Minimize Bias Across the Hiring Process

Job advertisements are the first part of your hiring process, so make sure they aren’t excluding diverse candidates. Requiring items such as years of experience can eliminate qualified talent who haven’t had a chance to gain experience, Vergara says, and including too many requirements may cause women to screen themselves out of the pool.

Revise advertisements to use neutral language and highlight core job outcomes. Audit an existing high performer in the role to define the skills and competencies that lead them to success. Use the objective criteria from observing high performers in the role to evaluate candidates during the selection process. Interview panels, objective scorecards, and assessments can put additional checks and balances in place to help you make less biased hiring decisions.

Taking steps to implement a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive recruitment and selection process will not only support your larger DEI strategy, but will also expand your talent pool and foster a healthier workplace culture.


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