Hiring for diversity: 9 tips for employers

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Equity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace is necessary to include in any business strategy, especially as jobseekers actively look for employers who truly value it. Yet many organisations will find that various recruitment obstacles thwart their progress and hinder their commitment to creating a genuinely equal, diverse and inclusive workplace. 

Luckily, there are deliberate, practical measures you can apply to improve your equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) recruitment strategy and ultimately attract, employ and retain top talent.

Why create a diverse workforce?

Not only is recruiting for ED&I the right thing to do, it can unlock skilled workers who are too often overlooked. There are many recognised benefits of inclusion at work and creating workplace diversity. By unlocking underrepresented talent pools, an organisation can improve customer orientation and service, innovation, productivity, profitability, staff engagement and staff retention. 

But to take advantage of these benefits, you need to ensure your recruitment process firstly attracts a diverse candidate pool, which you assess without bias, and then develop and retain within an inclusive culture and a workplace that creates equal opportunities for all.

What does hiring for diversity mean?

Diversity hiring means your hiring process isn’t inherently biased against anything to do with a candidate’s characteristics that doesn’t directly affect their ability to perform a job. If they have the right skill set and perform well in interviews, then age, sexual orientation, gender, race and more shouldn’t factor at all.

Stereotypes are unfortunately deeply rooted and hiring for diversity aims to remove unconscious bias from the process to ensure that perspectives aren’t formed purely on impressions.

What is unconscious bias exactly?

Unconscious bias refers to the fact that many people have a learned assumption of a specific group of people separate from your own conscious mind. While you may not be thinking of these biases in your conscious mind, they’re still present as your brain tends to categorise groups. It’s important to be aware of this and deliver diverse recruitment strategies to drive against these biases. 

9 ways to attract and recruit diverse candidates

Many employers will be looking at how their recruitment process can be changed or improved on to help them create a more diverse workforce and attract diverse job seekers. If improving diversity in the workplace is important to you, here are nine recruitment tips to consider:

  1. Update recruitment marketing materials: Communicating your commitment to ED&I can have a significant impact on your ability to cut through to and attract more diverse candidates. Ensure your website, careers pages and job descriptions effectively represent your workplace culture and the experience of working for you. Create clearly defined and unbiased tone of voice guidelines for those who write and publish position descriptions and job advertisements.

  2. Review your attraction strategies: If the current channels you use to attract candidates are not delivering people with a diverse background, look at new channels or means of attracting under-represented demographics into your organisation. From recruitment agencies to social media, your own website, industry bodies and even word of mouth, there are various options to consider when looking to widen the diversity of your applicants.

  3. Consider targets: Diversity recruitment targets for senior and line managers can have a positive impact on diverse candidates attraction and recruitment, although there is often hesitation around introducing formal targets. For those open to this strategy, targets can ensure an attraction and selection process is purposefully inclusive by mitigating the impact of unconscious bias. However, if targets aren’t for you, some organisations prefer to have hiring managers explain why they were not able to meet the expectation to produce balanced, diverse shortlists.

  4. Run unconscious bias training for hiring managers: While there is greater awareness of the impact of unconscious bias in the recruitment process, key stakeholders should still be provided with testing and training to recognise and mitigate the impact of theirs, particularly since it takes place in the unconscious. Helping hiring managers and interviewers identify and understand theirs can positively encourage equality in candidate selection.

  5. Create a diverse review process: One way to help improve equal opportunities when creating a shortlist is to involve a range of diverse stakeholders in the initial screening process. Having a range of people from different backgrounds, perspectives and opinions involved in reviewing CVs can help to deliver more informed and balanced selection outcomes.

  6. Consider blind recruitment: Alternatively, you may like to consider blind recruitment to mitigate bias in decision making. This involves removing things such as the applicant’s age, gender or gender identidy, ethnicity or name. You may even consider automating the removal of identifying data, which can help you focus on skills and aptitudes alone.

  7. Use a structured interview process: A structured job interview process is one that uses the exact same list of questions in each interview, in the same order. This allows each candidate to demonstrate their skills and aptitudes equally and puts everyone on an even playing field.  In contrast, in an unstructured interview, the interviewer will ask different questions, making it difficult to truly compare candidates, although it does allow for a free-flowing conversation. Read more on conducting an equal, diverse and inclusive interview in our Conducting a Successful Job Interview guide.

  8. Coach interviewers on how to discuss ED&I: With ED&I a common topic of discussion in job interviews, your hiring manager or managers must have a thorough understanding of your organisation’s support and how this can be portrayed to interviewees in an effective way. For instance, they can provide examples in an interview of how your organisation has championed ED&I and evidence the positive impact on individual employees as well as the wider organisation.

  9. Authentically communicate progress: Don’t forget to also communicate your ED&I agenda and progress with your workforce in a regular and transparent way, as this will aid your retention efforts. Make genuine progress though – you can’t solely deliver aspirational messages as your employees won’t promote your efforts or remain long-term if progress isn’t authentic.

This is important as your employees can be strong champions of your employer brand. In fact, employee advocacy can be far more influential in attracting candidates than any message you create, so ensure your employees understand your ED&I approach and the progress being made. Ideally, they should align with your ED&I vision so that you can empower them to communicate a consistent and genuine message.


Why is diversity hiring important?

From being the right thing to do and providing equal opportunities for all, having a diverse hiring strategy can unlock overlooked talent pools, and improve orientation and service, innovation, productivity, profitability, staff engagement and staff retention. A business who’s staff reflects the wider community that it operates within, is often a more innovative and successful one.

How do you bring diversity and inclusion into the recruitment process?

Having an ED&I strategy is integral to promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This will allow all other processes, such as updating recruitment strategies, creating diverse review processes and training to recognise unconscious bias to take place.

Ongoing journey

Working towards the creation of a truly equal, diverse and inclusive workplace is an ongoing journey. Set targets that you can measure, evaluate and report on. From this, you can clearly gauge your progress and determine what new actions must be taken to deliver change, then begin the process of evaluating again. This should be a continuous cycle. If your ED&I process ever stalls, look to get it back on track by implementing practical strategies to improve ED&I. 

Add the above specific recruitment tips to increase diversity in your workplace, and you’ll be able to turn theory into action and work towards achieving equity, diversity and inclusion recruitment best practice.

About this author

Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director, began working at Hays in 1993 and since then he has held a variety of consulting and management roles across the business. In 2004 he was appointed to the Hays Board of Directors. He was made Managing Director of Australia and New Zealand in 2012.

Prior to joining Hays, he had a background in human resource management and marketing, and has formal qualifications in Psychology.

Follow Nick on LinkedIn

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