Career Advice

8 Diversity Recruitment Strategies for More Inclusive Hiring Practices

Prioritizing diversity in the workplace is key to creating a successful and competitive company. Find the best inclusive recruiting strategies here!

Michael Yan
Published: (Updated: ) - 8 min read
Michael Yan is the co-founder & CEO of Simplify. Previously a software engineer at Meta, Michael dropped out of Stanford to found Simplify. He is a part-time career coach & Y Combinator alum.

Photo by Christin Hume / Unsplash

Research from the Harvard Business School and others has proven that more diverse teams tend to be smarter and more innovative. Building an inclusive and diverse workplace takes multiple interventions, especially if an organization is grappling with systemic issues, as most are. The change however begins with the hiring process.

Unconscious biases and long-ingrained prejudices have historically kept marginalized people from jobs that they otherwise deserved. It’s also meant that businesses have unwittingly lost out on valuable talent. Improving the inclusivity and diversity of your workplace doesn’t just happen overnight. It begins with a recruitment strategy that will target bias and open doors for people you may have otherwise missed:

1. Search Underrepresented Groups

One of the best recruiting strategies to enact as you build a more inclusive workplace is by rethinking how you search for candidates. Often, the attributes that recruiters put down are too limiting and will mean that people with disabilities for example are excluded before the hiring process even begins.

Make sure to do away with any screening factors that aren’t completely necessary for the job to avoid accidentally excluding people. Jessica Lopez, a rising LinkedIn creator, recently landed her first internship through Simplify. As a woman without hands or feet, she focused her search on remote work that would suit her disability. If you have a job that can be performed remotely, it may be worth leaning into that so that it’s more open to people with disabilities. Jessica’s story showcases how important it is for companies to expand their job screening process wherever possible in order to land great talent from underrepresented groups.

When it comes to recruiting, it pays to cast a wide net. Make sure to actively seek out diverse talent pools, both online and offline, including organizations that specifically focus on underrepresented talent. When posting job ads, consider circulating them through organizations and networks that have the most potential for diverse talent.

LinkedIn’s Inclusion and Diversity Recruiting

A great example of this is with LinkedIn’s recent launch of Inclusion and Diversity Recruiting. The platform allows HR teams to target specific diversity-focused communities such as black professionals, LGBTQ+ professionals, veterans, and people with disabilities. This allows companies to ensure they’re connecting with the right people and not just relying on more traditional job search engines.

2. Utilize Technology and AI to Avoid Bias

Bias is one of the biggest obstacles to creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace. As reported by a New York Times article in 2021, studies have been done that prove that job applications from candidates with black-seeming names seem to get fewer callbacks than those from more traditionally “white” names. Using fake applications that they put together and submitted to major companies, the research overwhelmingly showed that “white” surnames opened doors. As part of this research, they also found that discriminating companies tend to be less profitable, pointing to the larger consequences of this bias.

To avoid any potential for bias in the job search process, consider using AI-powered recruitment platforms. These platforms use algorithms to uncover qualified applicants from a range of backgrounds, eliminating any potential for bias based on a candidate’s appearance or name. This means you can be sure that your recruitment process is both fair and effective, while also helping you to find great talent who bring a different perspective and expertise.

Another great way to avoid bias and create an inclusive workplace is to use a blind application process. This means removing any details from a candidate’s application that could identify them and result in them being judged on the basis of their gender, ethnicity, age, or any other characteristics. This type of system allows candidates to be judged solely on the basis of their skills and experience..

3. Train and Educate Staff on Inclusiveness

Once you’ve hired a new team of diverse and talented professionals, it’s important to make sure they’re properly onboarded and integrated into the workplace. This is a great way to not only show that you’ve invested in their future but that you also value their presence and value the knowledge and experiences they will bring to the team. Creating a successful onboarding process also involves training and educating staff on how to behave inclusively in the workplace.

This may include topics such as recognizing language, how to facilitate diverse conversations and perspectives, avoiding stereotypes, and proactively addressing any instances of discrimination or bias. Not only will this ensure your team is well-prepared to become part of an inclusive culture, but it will also show a commitment to ensuring equal access and opportunities for everyone.

Researchers at Stanford have shown that interventions intended to change a workplace’s diversity and inclusivity culture work best with a “small wins” model. This requires companies to identify the specific area that needs adjusting and then, once they’ve succeeded, scale up. It’s also cautioned that whatever training and change is pursued, the specific dynamics of that organization be used to shape the process. When training the people in a company on inclusiveness, especially in hiring, the question must be asked: what is it about how this organization has thus far operated that has held us back in terms of inclusiveness? It’s a scary question to confront but the answer will make your training far more targeted and as such, more effective at opening the door for diverse hires.

4. Ensure the Language You Use is Geared Towards All Demographics

One of the best ways to make sure your recruitment process is genuinely inclusive is to make sure the language used is geared towards all demographics. If a job post is written with a particular tone that appeals to one section of the population more than another, it’s likely that hiring will be skewed towards them and that underrepresented groups will feel like it’s not worth applying.

This means avoiding any language that could be seen as exclusionary. This includes references to gendered roles and even phrases as simple as “Young and energetic”, which could be seen as discriminatory towards older applicants. It also means using language that’s welcoming to all. Use terms such as “All genders welcome” or “Excited to hire applicants of all backgrounds” if you really want to show that all are welcome.

In addition, make sure to mention in the job posting why a diverse workforce matters to your organization. This is a great way to show that you care about diversity in the workplace and are actively working to build a more inclusive environment. With the right language and messaging, you can make all potential applicants feel welcome, regardless of their background or identity.

Are you curious about what Gen Z values in an employer? Click here to learn more in our article on the topic!

5. Source Applicants from a Variety of Different Places

If you’re trying to improve the inclusivity and diversity of a company by transforming recruiting practices, then it’s time to change how you source applicants. One of the best strategies for attracting underrepresented groups to apply for open roles is by seeking them out. Online groups, veteran centers, and disability programs that look to match people with work are all avenues that can be used to search for candidates that traditional recruiting strategies are probably skipping.

Actively seeking out diverse talent pools, both online and offline, is an important factor in building a more diverse workforce. This involves connecting with organizations and networks that have the potential to provide the best talent for a company’s specific needs. Job boards and executive teams can also be used to source applicants and take advantage of the variety of resources available. Talent acquisition leaders should also consider working with external experts to help assess the recruitment process and identify any areas where bias may be present.

Training and educating team members on inclusiveness should also be implemented for long-term success in creating a more diverse and inclusive environment. Finally, creating a culture of openness and inclusiveness from the very beginning is a great way to ensure that new hires feel comfortable and accepted in the organization.

6. Offer Internships for Diverse Candidates

Offering internships to diverse candidates can be an effective way to introduce a range of talent to a company. Internships are a great way to give a candidate the opportunity to demonstrate their value to the company and can be an excellent way to evaluate someone’s suitability for an open position. Internships also have the potential to encourage a diverse and talented workforce to join an organization. Internships can be tailored to suit the needs of diverse candidates and can include flexible working hours, remote working opportunities, mentoring or coaching, and other benefits. Additionally, introducing a third-party assessment of applicants prior to the interview stage can help to make the recruitment process more neutral. This can level the playing field and enable hiring managers to assess candidates objectively.

Offering internships to diverse candidates is one thing, but if the program only suits someone who has parents who can support them through it, then your applicant pool will remain limited. Expand your idea of what an internship can look like and who could fulfill it and you’re likely to end up with a far more diverse hire because of it.

7. Consider Blind Resumés and Interviews

One of the best ways to improve the overall inclusiveness of a recruitment process is to consider blind resumes and interviews. Blind resumés remove identifying factors such as name, age, and education from the resumé so that hiring managers can focus solely on the skills, experience, and qualifications of the candidate. This ensures that all applicants are assessed based on their merit alone, making it fairer for those from minority backgrounds or with different levels of education.

The same principle applies to interviews. Blind interviews remove personal identifiers such as accent, gender, or name and focus solely on the candidate’s answers and their abilities. This makes it easier for hiring teams to make unbiased decisions and ensure that all potential candidates get a fair chance.

Overall, blind resumés and interviews are a great way to improve the diversity of a workforce. By removing elements that could lead to bias decisions and providing equal access to all potential candidates, you can ensure that all applicants get a fair chance. Additionally, the different perspectives and backgrounds of the selected candidates can help to create a more diverse work environment.

8. Use the Same Interview Questions for Every Person

This goes back to our previous tip about paying attention to the language used in interviews but using the same interview questions for every person is crucial enough to require its own reminder. Unconscious bias may mean that an interviewer will skip out on questions based on the person in front of them or become overly interrogatory with others. The point always with recruiting strategies intended to improve diversity is to create a system of fairness that tries, as much as possible, to treat each applicant as equal.

Using the same questions for everyone is one of the best ways to ensure that you are interviewing all applicants in a fair and equitable manner. Additionally, make sure the questions you ask are relevant to the role and designed to provide insight into the person’s skills and experiences. This can help to uncover any hidden talent and ensure that the best candidates for a role are brought to the forefront.

Using the same interview questions for every person is one of the best ways to ensure that hiring decisions are made based on job qualifications and not on gender, race, or any other demographic criteria. This will also ensure that all potential candidates have equal access to the selection process, as well as ensuring that the hiring team can benefit from the diverse perspectives and experiences they bring.

The Effort Doesn’t End with Recruitment

Any recruitment professional knows that half the job is retaining employees. If applicants see a revolving door of diverse hires that never seem to last, they’re probably not going to take the job, no matter what your other recruiting strategies are. Glassdoor’s 2020 D&I workplace survey revealed that when it comes to judging the diversity and inclusivity of a company, 66% of job seekers will trust employees most on the matter. The environment that you build at a company directly affects the kind of person who will be applying to join it. Once you’ve managed to recruit and build a more diverse team, that needs to be matched with a more inclusive work environment in which those hires can flourish.

Ultimately, a more diverse workforce is one of the best ways to ensure success in today’s competitive market. Companies must prioritize diversity in recruitment and make sure that they are creating an environment that offers equal opportunities and allows all employees to succeed. By utilizing the tips above, talent acquisition leaders can begin the process of building a more diverse and inclusive workforce that can drive success and innovation.

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