Diversity recruiting strategy: The ultimate guide

diversity recruiting strategies
Posted on 28 February 2024 In Diversity

It’s a logical conclusion that’s backed by countless studies: employing people from a diverse range of backgrounds broadens organizations’ worldviews and gives their leadership access to differing perspectives. Even a cursory look at the findings of workplace diversity-related studies makes it easy to see why so many organizations are prioritizing diversity in recruitment.

In short, no matter what a business’s strategy may be, having a diverse workforce has proven benefits that directly impact business outcomes. For instance, a heterogeneous workforce makes companies better able to capture new markets, come up with creative ideas, and meet or exceed financial goals.

Apart from the many practical advantages that flow from diversity recruiting, it’s also a matter of ethics. After all, selecting candidates regardless of their culture, background, belief systems, orientations, or race is the right thing to do. This article looks at ways to build diversity in recruitment. But before we begin, it’s worth examining and clarifying some of the related terminology you might encounter when undertaking diversity recruitment.

What is the difference between diversity, equality, and inclusion in recruitment?

Diversity means that your talent pool represents people from all backgrounds and walks of life. This extends beyond gender, ethnicity and religion. For instance, more and more organizations are incorporating neurodiverse and disabled people into their diversity recruitment strategies.

Equality means that, rather than recruiting based on demographics, your strategy recognises applicants’ merits and abilities. For this to be possible, your recruitment process needs to be fair and skills-based, giving each candidate an equal opportunity to display their potential. 

Inclusivity means that candidates are valued for their unique perspectives and skillsets. They feel empowered and respected for who they are as individuals and what they would contribute to the organization if they were to be hired.

What is the difference between a strategy and a plan for diversity recruitment?

A diversity recruitment strategy is based on a vision for an equitable, innovative workforce where problems are solved by well-rounded teams with a range of unique perspectives. The success of this strategy can often be measured with specific benchmarks, which we will touch upon shortly.

Plans help to facilitate the execution of strategies. Whereas devising a strategy means looking at a desired end-point, plans are used to plot the journey. In the context of diversity recruitment, a plan will often involve the use of specific methods and processes to ensure a fairer and more equitable hiring process.

For example, a company’s diversity recruitment strategy may be based on tackling unconscious bias. In this case, the plan might be anonymising job applications or conducting structured, skills-based interviews to find the most qualified candidate – regardless of their background.

10 steps to creating or improving your diversity recruitment strategy

1. Advertise with inclusivity in mind

Advertising a post might seem like a simple matter: say what type of person you’re hoping to recruit, and let the applications roll in. But although characteristics like skills, qualifications, and experience are of paramount importance, how you word job adverts can encourage or discourage different groups of people. 

It can be hard to spot potentially biased language in job ads since gendered language goes beyond pronoun use. For example, ads that include words like ‘ambitious’, ‘lead’ or ‘competitive’ often show an implicit bias towards male candidates. More and more companies are writing job descriptions with gender neutrality in mind, so Broadbean includes an easy-to-use job ad evaluation app in its suite of recruitment tools. 

Only listing job requirements that are absolute musts will also help to broaden the diversity of applicants applying for the post. This is because studies have shown that women are far less likely to apply for jobs unless they fulfill 100% of requirements (whereas for men this drops to only 60%).

Resist temptation and avoid unnecessary jargon or acronyms. A second-language English speaker who sees your ad may be far more qualified than native speakers who understand your corporate jargon. Keep it straightforward and easy to understand. You aim to attract applicants, not alienate them.

2. Choose advertising platforms that reach a diverse readership

Let’s not lose sight of your goals. You want highly qualified applicants, but you also hope to attract diverse applicants. Choose advertising platforms with a wide reach within the field for which you are recruiting. Looking for people with scarce skills? The imperative is even stronger. 

Use programmatic advertising tools to identify relevant platforms that will reach a wide diversity of people with the skillsets you’re hoping to attract. Even if you thought your profession was open to the full diversity spectrum, think again. For instance, top positions in the legal profession may seem to offer opportunities for a diverse range of backgrounds, but statistics show that several are under-represented. Are your ads reaching a diverse audience? You may need tech tools to help with that!

3. Implement blind applicant screening: Leverage tech

Blind applicant screening means removing personal data like name, age, and photographs from applicants’ resumes. This reduces unconscious bias when sifting through applications. 

The idea behind blind applicant screening is that recruiters look at the facts, and aren’t influenced by things like culturally-different names, physical appearance, or gender. Even so, manual resume screening can still run the risk of bias or decision fatigue.

AI seems like a solution, but companies should be cautious in their choices. As recently as 2023, The University of Melbourne found that Chat GPT-driven AI was downgrading resumes from anyone who had recently taken parental leave – male or female. Select an AI applicant screening package that has been trained on algorithms that identify the best applicants based on unbiased criteria. 

4. Use population-based benchmarks for diversity

Assuming that a representative population of qualified applicants applies for jobs, you can expect to see a similar spectrum of shortlisted candidates. To a certain extent, whether you do so depends on the post you’re advertising. For example, a greater proportion of men than women enter engineering fields. 

Nevertheless, you should be able to see whether certain populations are under-represented in your shortlists. Your advertising strategy can help overcome that. For example, Broadbean targets 19 job websites frequented by under-represented individuals. 

5. Make sure there are accommodations for candidates who are neurodiverse or disabled

To ensure an inclusive and effective hiring process for disabled and neurodiverse candidates, companies can prioritize accessibility and understanding. This includes providing accommodations such as alternative application formats, assistive technologies such as screen readers and speech-to-text software, and flexible interviewing techniques. Additionally, partnering with organizations that specialize in supporting these candidates can offer valuable insights into how to expand and diversify your talent pool.

6. Build a database you can revisit

No applicant should land a job simply as the result of a box-ticking exercise. Your aim should always be to recruit the best. But, a promising candidate that wasn’t quite right for one post may be perfect for another. Build a database of great candidates for future reference – and be sure to tell them that you’re saving their details because you’re excited about having found them. 

7. Implement a staff referral scheme

If you already have a diverse team, asking them for referrals will help you to access a more diverse pool of candidates. Referrals often produce a high caliber of candidates, since people who are already familiar with the workplace culture will know who would be a good fit – not to mention they’re far less likely to refer people unless they’re sure they’d do well.

8. Have a diverse interview panel

Many of the arguments against blind resumes rest on the fact that, sooner or later, candidates will face an interview panel. The bottom line is that people are unconsciously inclined to hire candidates who are “just like” them. So, if your panel consists of a reasonably homogenous set of people, there’s a chance that they’ll be more inclined to endorse candidates they can easily identify with. Switch things up. Get multiple perspectives with a diverse interview panel. It will also have the effect of allowing applicants from underrepresented groups to feel more at home and more confident during interviews.

9. Use numerical scoring in interviews to reduce bias

Companies concerned about bias in interviews should consider using numerical scoring to evaluate candidates based on their relevant skills and experiences. This means using fair and impartial scores to measure candidates’ performance either in interviews or pre-hire assessments. This limits the potential for bias by giving companies a clear and quantifiable insight into who the best candidates are. By focusing on objective criteria, numerical scoring helps to create a level playing field, which is key for any successful diversity recruitment strategy.

10. Foster a culture of inclusion

If you’re genuine about fostering diversity and inclusion in recruitment, it will show in your workplace culture. When your organization is eager to accept diverse opinions and perspectives and is ready to make everyone feel valued, it shows. And once that happens, you’re likely to attract more people who know their value but who haven’t been able to make a difference in the past. Open your organization up to talent, no matter what shape or form it takes, and the people who have it will beat a path to your door. 

Use metrics to evaluate your diversity and inclusion strategy

It’s often assumed that using metrics for evaluating diversity means fulfilling certain quotas for hiring candidates from certain demographics. This has the risk of treating diversity as a box-ticking exercise – a common pitfall for many organizations. Diversity recruiting strategies are not a monolith and as such, there are no universal standards that every company should adopt. That said, you might want to consider using metrics such as those below to ascertain whether your diversity recruitment efforts are succeeding in a meaningful and sustainable way:

  • Applicant Diversity Ratio: This metric refers to the percentage of job applicants from diverse backgrounds. It allows you to measure the ratio from each targeted group, providing insights into the initial reach and attraction of your diversity campaigns.
  • Interview Selection Rate: This measures the proportion of candidates from diverse backgrounds who are selected for interviews relative to the total number of applicants. This metric could identify specific areas within the recruitment process that may benefit from recalibration or additional training for interviewers.
  • Offer Acceptance Ratio: This is a valuable metric that measures the percentage of job offers accepted by candidates from diverse groups. It serves as an indicator of the effectiveness of your inclusion messaging during the hiring process and reflects the overall appeal of your workplace culture to a diverse range of candidates.
  • Candidate Satisfaction: This metric can be implemented by tracking applicant feedback and comparing satisfaction rates across a range of demographics. This type of data can be hugely beneficial to your efforts to create a hiring process that’s inclusive and caters to the varying needs and values of specific demographics.
  • Retention Rate: This metric serves as an indicator of how effectively your workplace culture supports and retains a diverse pool of talented individuals. By measuring and improving retention rates, you can foster an inclusive environment that nurtures and values diversity.
  • Promotion Rate: This metric involves comparing the rate at which successful candidates from a range of backgrounds tend to be promoted, compared to the overall employee population. This offers insights into workplace inclusion and potential barriers to advancement so that companies can work to ensure equitable opportunities for everyone.

Remember that these metrics work together to paint a more comprehensive picture of your diversity recruitment success. Regularly tracking them can help you identify areas for improvement, but they should be supplemented with more qualitative insights such as those that can be derived from employee satisfaction surveys, one-on-one feedback sessions and town hall-style meetings.

Relying on the talent pool you can attract through your advertising? Broadbean has all the tools you need to implement your diversity recruitment strategy. Improve your reach. Eliminate bias. Select the best – no matter what profile they fit. Unbiased hiring begins here.

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