What does diversity mean in the workplace? Why is it important to include a strategy for diversity and inclusion in the recruitment process? In this article, you will learn about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the recruiting process and tips for improving your recruiting approach.

Tips to bring diversity in recruitment

Most recruiters and managers would generally agree that an ideal diversity and inclusion strategy can help companies to be more innovative, creative, and successful. Recruiting diverse teams can help contribute to better overall performance.

Having different perspectives and backgrounds on your team can potentially contribute to bringing in new ideas to help solve problems and drive business process innovation. Keeping this in mind, companies should ideally focus on building their own recruitment diversity strategy.

But the topic of diversity is typically beyond business results and performance. Building teams from qualified candidates regardless of gender, background, race, religion, or sexual orientation can be a step toward true equality in the workplace.

How to recruit with diversity and inclusion in mind? 

Diversity in the workplace usually refers to the mix of individuals of various backgrounds in an organization. Staff is typically comprised of many types of people from different backgrounds and experiences. This may include a diversity of gender, experience, socioeconomic status, race, religion, sexual orientation, and so on.

Diversity can be of two types: inherent or acquired. The former is related to race, gender, age, and any other ‘physical’ characteristics that define us as human beings. Acquired diversity, on the other hand, embraces elements that can develop and evolve over time, such as education, experience, values, skills, and knowledge.

Diversity in recruitment can also be defined as the practice of hiring candidates using a selection process free from biases for or against any individual or group of candidates. It is also considered a merit-based recruiting that aims to find the best possible candidate by giving all participants an equal opportunity, regardless of their background.

Why is diversity in recruitment strategy important?

In addition to being an ethically appropriate choice, recruiting from a diversity and inclusion perspective can provide many tangible benefits to business performance, innovation, and productivity.

For example, some benefits include a wider range of skills and breadth of experience on the team, greater language and cultural awareness, and the ability to choose from a large and diverse candidate pool.

Around 10% of board positions are held by directors who are members of minorities, indigenous groups or persons with a disability across all Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA) corporations. 

In this context, diverse workforces may tend to be more effective problem solvers who promote creativity and innovation in the workplace. This, in turn, can result in better decisions and overall outcomes. In fact, a diversity of viewpoints may allow team members to constructively discuss various projects and arrive at the best possible conclusion using a much wider range of information.

8 tips for recruiting a diverse workforce

When it comes to changing a business process, it can be essential to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my goal?
  • How can I measure the success of my strategy?
  • What are the important strategy metrics?

Without clearly defining these important variables, it may be difficult to improve your diversity and inclusion recruitment strategy successfully. So, try to sit down with your team and identify your goals.

Once you've taken the first step, you can then ideally move to improve your diversity recruiting using the following tips. 

1. Review your job advertisements

One of the best ways to recruit diverse candidates is to audit your past job ads and make changes to speak to a wider range of candidates. For example, you might notice that some past ads were more geared toward a specific demographic group or experience level. If that's the case, strive to find ways to be more inclusive in your language to attract candidates from diverse backgrounds and update ads accordingly.

Don't be afraid to post targeted job ads to improve your recruitment diversity strategy. The right candidates for your company should typically be convinced to work for you through your job advertisements. 

2. Use alternative sources to reach a variety of candidate types

A great way to make sure your talent pool is full of diverse candidates is to source professionals from a variety of places. Don't rely on the same job portals always when looking for new candidates; focusing only on the sources you know best can lead to a talent pool with similar candidates and a lack of diversity.

Instead, look for opportunities to find diverse candidates where they can typically be found. For example, many online and offline groups are dedicated to women in technology. This could be a great resource to meet and connect with high-calibre candidates proactively instead of waiting for them to find your company through traditional job listing platforms.

3. Request your employees to promote your ads to their networks

Chances are, your team members can have networks of people with similar backgrounds. Creating a diverse candidate referral program could be a great way to enhance your recruitment diversity strategy and showcase that your company values diverse backgrounds and ideas.

If you want to hire a specific group of people, reach out to some of the employees already on your team who are part of that specific demographic. Encourage them to share your job postings with their networks and give them the tools they need to promote your company.  

4. Create company policies that attract diverse candidates

To bring value to your diverse team recruitment strategies, it's important to practice certain values continually. That's why it can be critical to proactively implement company policies that attract diverse candidates.

Consider, for example, changing company policies about time off and leisure to include more religious holidays, community events, and so on. Encourage flexible work schedules that can allow candidates to continue to be involved in their communities and don't require them to always conform to a standard schedule.

Encouraging employees to speak up if they feel certain company policies are hindering diversity could also be a great opportunity to improve your strategy. People's individual biases can always be an obstacle to how they conduct themselves in the workplace. Therefore, it's important to encourage open and honest dialogue to ensure everyone feels welcome at the workplace. Implementing these policies, and actively promoting them in your recruiting process can help you ensure your recruitment diversity and inclusion strategy is working as it should.

5. Hide personal information on resumes during selection

An increasingly popular technique recruiters are using to remove bias from how they screen candidates is to ‘blank out’ all personal information on resumes. Information such as names, schools, dates of birth, specific locations, and so on can contribute to a biased assessment of the candidate, even if it is not done consciously.  

6. Use artificial intelligence (AI) in resume screening  

One way to ensure that you completely remove biases from the resume screening process could be to use the artificial intelligence technology of specific recruitment software. These platforms can be programmed to flag and filter specific skills and experience, and AI technology can potentially analyze candidates' resumes for such parameters. This process may help you get a completely unbiased list of candidates.

Moreover, recruitment platforms can also be used to contact the shortlisted candidates to send tests and questions that candidates can answer anonymously without providing personal data. The goal is to remain free from bias even in terms of who you choose to interview further. It can be much harder to remove any personalities and biases in the later stages when talking to candidates over the phone or in person, so ‘blind’ shortlisting can turn out to be most effective early in the process.

7. Rethink factors that influence the selection of candidates 

This tip is typically related to your job ad audit, where you can rethink what you are looking for in a candidate and made changes to past ad copy. A critical part of diversity recruiting can be to always question what traits you value most in candidates, why, and whether this is based on your own biases.

Take some time to review how you are testing and selecting candidates, and ask yourself honestly if you are unknowingly targeting specific types of people. If so, try to recognize your cognitive bias. If you don't feel confident, you can ask other colleagues for their opinions to help you through the process.

What is cognitive bias?

A cognitive bias can be defined as a preconceived thought process about a person or object based on information we have, lack, or perceive to have.

8. Create a talent pipeline with candidates different from each other

People usually believe that candidates who are different from others are much less likely to be selected when they are the only representatives from their background on a shortlist. You should potentially boost your recruitment diversity strategy by using simple tricks to combat this decision bias. 

For example, having multiple people from the same minority demographic dramatically may increase the likelihood that one of them will be hired. Creating a list with a proportionate number of diverse candidates could result in a more level playing field when choosing one to hire. Of course, the first criterion to be met should ideally be the competence of the candidates on the list. After all, diversity and inclusion in recruiting is typically about hiring the right candidate, regardless of their background.

Metrics to track your diversity in recruitment efforts

Like any other innovation, diversity in recruitment should also be measured and translated into key performance indicators (KPIs) to become a part of company policy. By using the right recruitment software, recruiters can ideally monitor and evaluate important metrics strategically and make less biased hiring decisions.

Here are some key metrics you may consider when evaluating the success of your diversity recruiting process:

  • Percentage of diverse candidates present at each stage of recruitment
  • Percentage of minorities at different levels in your company
  • Employee satisfaction score in terms of diversity and inclusion
  • Retention rate among employees from minority groups
  • Awards/recognition from special interest and advocacy groups for diversity and inclusion efforts 

There is no doubt that your company's ultimate goal is to find the best talent. However, finding diverse talent can additionally help you achieve this goal effectively. 

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