Why Hire for Diversity?

February 2017

According to Glassdoor.com, 67% of active and passive job seekers say that they look at a company’s workforce diversity when considering both potential employers and job offers. Revising your talent brand to better reflect diversity goals will help draw in more diverse candidates.

To enhance the diversity emphasis in your recruitment process, you will want to start with an overall diversity strategy that is supported by upper management. Once you have that in place, you can begin to build cultural competencies into, and remove bias from, your hiring process.

In reality, before job openings occur recruiting actually begins through the process of outreach. You want to establish your organization as one that values diversity and begin to cultivate diverse employees’ interest in your organization as an employer of choice.

Your website is the primary representation of your brand. You will want to include diverse images, description of the organization’s culture, information about employee resource groups, and employee testimonials. Describe upper management’s support of diversity efforts. Include the diversity policy on the website.

Job Announcement
Once you have an opening, your job announcement is an opportunity to reinforce your commitment to the pursuit of diversity. Highlight the organization’s intent to attract a diverse applicant pool.

In the job announcement, emphasize details that will help to attract diverse applicants. Also, to avoid introducing bias, you should list essential functions, focus on skills, qualities or knowledge needed to perform the work, ask for ability and related work experience, and avoid descriptions of personal traits and subjective terms.

Advertise in a wide variety of places including community boards, employment development department offices, local community centers, community newsletters, and job boards of organizations and associations with a diverse membership.

Because you can’t assume that candidates have access to the internet, you may want to expand your advertising to include newspapers, magazines, journals, radio stations and programs.

Employees as Recruiters
All employees should be seen as potential recruiters. If you don’t offer one already, consider a referral bonus. Take the time to ask if there are any reasons they would not refer others. Emphasize that they should refer friends who are looking for jobs similar to those that are posted but also request that they forward to Human Resources the names of people they know who are good at what they do and may be good candidates in the future.

Before the Interview
When selecting applicants to be interviewed, be sure there is an objective set of criteria. Consider using a point-factor system to help structure the decision. If you still feel that your process of selecting applicants to be interviewed is biased, consider having names deleted from applicants’ resumes to avoid bias.

Use diverse hiring teams to help offset individual subconscious prejudices, often called unconscious bias (bias that affects our decision making without our being aware of it). For team members, you may want to use an Implicit Associations Test to help them find their biases and work to counteract them. Train anyone likely to be involved with the hiring process on the significance of diversity. Help them develop cultural competencies and an understanding of cross-cultural issues, particularly for the types of diversity the organization is seeking to increase. Secure a commitment to fair and equitable treatment. Be sure that they are familiar with your diversity strategy and ensure all individuals involved in hiring buy into it.

During the Interview
In evaluating candidates’ interview performance, remember, certain behaviors are cultural; e.g., lack of eye contact may be culturally based. Counsel interviewers on trying to avoid making assumptions about a diverse candidate’s ability to conform. Encourage them to look at similarities rather than differences.

Standardize the interview process. Questions should include essential functions. Provide a rating rubric with a clear and consistent set of guidelines. Turn to objective facts rather than subjective feelings when making hiring decisions. Have interviewers take detailed notes rather than relying on memory.

Help interviewers be prepared for diversity-related questions applicants might raise during the interview process. Decide whether the organization wishes to emphasize the focus on diversity during the introductory portion of the interview.

Include only qualified applicants at each step. It is best to avoid including diverse applicants merely to demonstrate that desire or increase the pool. However, do consider how applicants would enhance diversity in the department.

Be sure the onboarding process is consistent and helps employees to feel welcome in the organization. Also, ask employees to let you know if something isn’t going well for them during the first few weeks of their employment. For additional onboarding ideas, see our June 2016 article, Beyond New Employee Orientation.

More and more research is confirming the benefits of having a diverse workforce, including innovation, creativity, and reduced turnover. According to the Virgin America website, Richard Branson believes that a workplace that values diversity fosters a “dedication to working together so that the best ideas shine through no matter who came up with them.” He also suggests that this is the secret to the success of Virgin America. Adding diversity recruitment goals will not only improve your ability to attract and retain candidates, it may improve the way your organization operates.

Contact us to discuss the unique attributes of your own organization.

Koff & Associates