The Ultimate Guide to Improve Your Diversity Recruiting Strategy
In 2021, it should come as no surprise that developing a diverse and inclusive company culture is crucial for your organization’s success. Not only does it create an atmosphere that allows creativity and productivity to grow, but it also helps your bottom line. According to a study conducted by Boston Consulting Group, “Companies that reported above-average diversity on their management teams also reported innovation revenue that was 19 percentage points higher than that of companies with below-average leadership diversity—45% of total revenue versus just 26%.”
We know that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) help organizations significantly. But what’s a little harder to predict is how DE&I will transform and change in the next decade. Here are some trends we can anticipate.
The one DE&I individual at a company is no longer. This single job role is now growing to an entire team of individuals dedicated to diversity and inclusion. If you’re the only person at your company focused on driving this forward, it appears help is on the way. Additionally, DE&I teams are becoming more intertwined with other teams and working cross-functionally within organizations. Long are the days this team is an HR-focused team only. Another trend is the shift from perfection to progress. According to a Fast Company, “Leaders are focused on measuring quarter-over-quarter progress in several areas rather than fixating on a magic diversity number.”
It’s important to know where DE&I is moving towards and how diversity hiring starts from this bigger transformation. Now, let’s zoom in on your diversity recruiting strategy.
When building a diversity, equity, and inclusion plan, it can feel overwhelming to accomplish. There is so much to be done and so much to achieve. So, where is the first place to start?
It begins with your diversity recruiting strategy. While it’s great to teach and train current employees on DE&I best practices, the best way to enact change is by getting candidates of all backgrounds into the door at your company.
Table of contents
- - What is a diversity recruitment strategy?
- - Why is a diversity recruitment strategy important?
- - How to create your strategy
- - Increase diversity in sourcing
- - Increase diversity in screening
- - Use the right metrics
What is a diversity recruitment strategy?
Your first thought may be—What is a diversity recruitment strategy exactly?
That’s an appropriate question because a diversity recruiting strategy actually encompasses a lot. It’s how your company will approach discovering, attracting, communicating with, and hiring diverse talent at all levels. A strategy should include specific and measurable hiring goals your company wants to achieve and actionable steps to attaining these goals. When convincing leaders to invest in your DE&I plan, focus on the metrics that will make a difference. Fast Company suggests, “The majority of leaders are focused on metrics that quantify the health of the organization, and the strength of their initiatives.”
Once you have the how and the what, you’ll want to include the who and the why. Who needs to be a part of this diversity recruiting strategy in order to actualize your desired results? And, why should your organization’s leaders invest in your DE&I plan? Whether it’s because it will greatly impact the company’s bottom line or it’s a huge request from current employees, coming prepared with your why is helpful to convince your executive team.
Every company will have its own unique diversity recruitment strategy, so it’s essential to define your organization’s distinctive objectives and goals. Remember, this strategy might change and evolve over time, especially after evaluating what’s working and not working.
Why is a diversity recruitment strategy important?
Why is a diversity recruiting strategy pivotal for your business? You want to hire great talent, right? Well, in order to hire great talent, your company’s mission and values will need to align with candidates’ mission and values.
As our society keeps growing and evolving, candidates evolve as well. Before, individuals might have chosen a company to work for based on salary, benefits, and opportunity for growth. And while those are still huge deciding factors, people are looking beyond that now. More than ever, candidates are looking for companies that create a diverse and inclusive work environment. According to a Glassdoor study, “A full two-thirds (67 percent) of active and passive job seekers said that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers.”
Need more convincing? A company with a strong diversity and inclusion strategy strengthens more than just recruitment alone. It can help your organization speak to a wider set of audiences and customers, it leads to a higher employee retention rate, and it increases innovative ideas from employees.
How to create your strategy
Now that you want to integrate an effective diversity recruitment strategy, you’ll need to know what factors to consider when creating one.
Where will you begin? With research.
Every good plan is developed with a lot of research behind it. Study what other companies have incorporated to be successful with their DE&I recruitment strategies.
Take MongoDB for example. They hit their hiring OKRs with ease when they hired all of its URM early-in-career talent. By Summer 2021, MongoDB aims to be at 50% gender parity and 20% underrepresented racial minorities in their hires. How did they achieve early success and how will they accomplish their large goals? Having the right data and tools was a huge help. According to MongoDb, “While partnering with student groups, HBCUs, and HSIs are important, having a tool like Canvas to help with diversity hiring has been instrumental.”
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel here. While you should find ways to improve upon processes, it’s okay to mimic how other organizations have found success with DE&I. Take what’s worked in the past and mold it to your specific company goals.
Next up, you’ll need to:
- - Define your diversity hiring goals
- - Obtain leadership buy-in
Define your recruitment goals
First things first, you’ll need to define your recruitment goals as a whole. Then, get really specific and granular with your diversity recruiting goals. Some general recruiting goals to consider include, increasing time to hire rate, decreasing candidate turnover rate, increasing application completion rate, and increasing offer acceptance rate.
Now, dive into your specific and measurable goals for diversity recruitment. Are you looking to grow the percentage of employees with disabilities or increase the percentage of women or non-binary gender population within your organization? Or, maybe you’re looking to increase retention levels across diverse employees in your company. Great! Now, specify those numbers in your plan. Make sure your recruiting goals follow the SMART method. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Obtain leadership buy-in
Now that you’ve written down your specific goals, you’ll want to obtain leadership buy-in. A plan is only good if you can get executive approval.
The unfortunate truth is you’ve probably already experienced some form of leadership pushback when it comes to enacting a diversity and inclusion recruitment plan. Why is this the case? The lack of diversity on leadership teams and diversity fatigue sure don’t help. Plus, the fact that DE&I is a larger and complex systemic issue, it’s overwhelming for executives to know where to begin.
Being persistent and coming up with a concrete action plan should help you break down those barriers. Emphasizing the desire for DE&I from employees, showcasing how DE&I positively impacts company goals, and building out a long-term roadmap are a few ways to increase your chances of obtaining leadership buy-in.
Increase diversity in sourcing
Diversity starts with your sourcing.
You’ve probably heard this mentioned from time to time, “There’s not even diverse candidates within the pipeline.” The pipeline is usually where the blame is put. Well, the problem isn’t the pipeline. It’s your process. So with that in mind, let’s fix your sourcing process.
There are a couple of ways you can increase diversity in your sourcing pipeline. But first, think about how you’re attracting candidates. Are you showcasing your company’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion on your job posts and your company’s website? Hint: You should be. Are you using inclusive language in your job descriptions to draw in people from underrepresented backgrounds? The correct answer should be yes.
Next, when you think about sourcing, are you stepping out of your norm and expanding how you go about sourcing? Or, are you sticking to the same old ways to source candidates? An example would be using the same job boards over and over. Consider where you are sourcing talent. Connect with organizations that support DE&I to help source more diverse talent. On top of that, make sure you’re maximizing your engagement with your company’s ERGs to help find talent of all backgrounds.
And lastly, are you being intentional about how you collect candidate data? How can you increase your diversity in your sourcing if you aren’t tracking any information?
Collecting the right candidate data
Step up your data collection game. Unveiling the diversity and insights in your existing pipeline and talent pool is essential for improvement. In order to continuously improve your DE&I efforts, you’ll need to track everything as early as you can. According to Fast Company, “leaders are collecting demographic data from employees and candidates as early as they can. This is a far better strategy from the usual once-a-year employee diversity survey.”
Fortunately, with Canvas, that part comes easily. Canvas's all-in-one virtual recruiting platform allows you to seamlessly sync every inbound applicant directly from your ATS into the platform, and enable enriched data on each candidate to better understand who they are beyond the limited information on a traditional application. Effortlessly narrow in on the right inbound candidates by applying filters on demographics, skills, experience, and more, to quickly identify top talent. We collect over 75 self-reported, filterable, data points on every candidate profile, which you can easily access with one click.
Engage in philanthropic activities & organizations that support d&i efforts
Relationship building is key when it comes to hiring great employees. Not only in regards to engaging with diverse candidates, but also in forming partnerships with organizations that support diversity and inclusion efforts. It’s one thing to talk the talk and say you “care about diversity and inclusion,” but it’s another to walk the walk and actually create change within your org.
One way to enact change and to show potential candidates that DE&I is top of mind for your company is by engaging in philanthropic activities that support diversity efforts. Can you create a philanthropic initiative that will help foster an inclusive culture? Can you donate to charities and organizations that drive DE&I efforts forward?
Once you create relationships with organizations that are focused on diversity and inclusion, you’ll be able to ask for their support in showcasing job openings within your organization. Sourcing diverse candidates should become a little easier with the help of communities and organizations by your side.
Engage your company’s ergs to boost your recruiting efforts
It comes as no surprise that ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) help organizations in a variety of ways. According to Great Place To Work, ERGs are “voluntary, employee-led groups whose aim is to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with the organizations they serve.” They help by strengthening working environments for employees who might feel alienated by creating a more inclusive culture. They also bring important conversations to light, when previously without ERGs an employee might have felt uncomfortable bringing up diversity issues. And overall, they help with employee retention.
One big impact companies have seen with ERGs is the ability to reach more diverse communities, including potential candidates. You can leverage your company ERGs to boost your diversity recruitment efforts.
Not only can you harness and leverage the information you receive from these ERGs on your diversity strategy as a whole, but you can also use their recommendations on how to source more diverse candidates. Furthermore, you can even have ERG members be involved in the recruitment process, helping you find, attract and delight candidates from all backgrounds.
Organize specific events for underrepresented groups
When thinking about how else you can attract and source talent from underrepresented groups, one thing comes to mind—events. Organizing specific events for untapped talent is one of the best ways to get diverse candidates excited about your company.
Events have long been used as a way for recruiters to enhance their employer branding and get to know interested candidates beyond a resume. Since virtual and in-person recruiting events are tried and true, it can be difficult to make your events stand out amongst the crowd. That’s why you’ve got to be specific and really drill down on the results you’re hoping to achieve from hosting your next event.
From casual mixers to hosting a panel and discussion, make sure you’re targeting your focus audience—diverse individuals. Think strategically about how you can attract underrepresented groups to your events. One way to start is by researching the topics they are interested in learning more about within your organization. If they are curious about how your organization builds an inclusive culture, showcase that.
You’ve come up with the event idea and set a date, now comes the marketing and outreach. If nobody knows about your event it stands no chance of being successful. And you’re going to need to go beyond email and social media marketing.
Go where your ideal candidates are going. This is where your connections with organizations committed to diversity and inclusion come into play. Reach out to them and see if they can share within their communities. Another idea is to connect with DE&I industry leaders to share your event with their audience. For entry-level positions, expand your network of schools and universities you work with to spread the word. Remember, if you’re looking for diverse talent, only collaborating with a few schools will limit you and your pipeline.
Increase diversity in screening
If you’re trying to widen your candidate pool to include talent from all backgrounds, you will also want to consider how you tackle candidate screening. Here are some questions you should be asking yourself:
- - Are you being too strict with your job requirements for open roles?
If you require candidates to have a certain GPA or college degree, you may be limiting your company. Not everyone grows up with the same opportunity to easily attend a university. And not all individuals have access to the same help to achieve a high GPA. When specifically calling out these prerequisites, you may be alienating individuals with different lived experiences.
- - Are you looking beyond a resume?
A resume can only tell you so much about an individual. Sure, it will tell you what previous roles they have had and what skills they may have expertise in. All great things to know. But you’re missing a lot when you’re only laser-focused on just a person’s resume. You can’t see how dedicated someone is or how resourceful they are. There is no measurement for scrappiness on a resume, nor can you see how they handle communication. Think beyond a resume and you’ll be remarkably surprised at the great talent you can find.
- - Is your company reducing unconscious bias in the hiring and screening process?
Unconscious bias comes into play when people tend to like people who are similar to them. People of similar backgrounds feel familiar to you, and you can find yourself feeling comfortable with them quite quickly. But this unconscious bias oftentimes leads to alienating individuals of different backgrounds. And eventually, a company finds itself with one big homogeneous group of people. Let’s avoid that.
Is your recruitment team hiring based on a “gut feeling?” This could be a major indicator of bias in the interview process. Instead of looking to hire a candidate who is a complete culture fit, try a different perspective. Hire for a culture add instead. This will allow your hiring team to think beyond similarities and see the value in our differences.
- - Are you using blind recruitment tactics or being deliberate about hiring diverse candidates?
Blind recruitment refers to hiding information on a resume or profile that could lead to bias, such as gender, age, education, etc. According to Glassdoor, “by hiding certain characteristics like age, gender, ethnicity, or level of education, you can remove the different cognitive biases that creep up when reading a resume.” Blind hiring is a hot topic amongst talent professionals, so it’s important to find what tactic is best for your company.
At Canvas, we collect self-reported candidate data that allows companies to be deliberate about filtering and finding diverse talent. If your organization is looking to increase it’s Latinx candidate pool or hire more women or non-binary individuals, you can be intentional with how you filter. With Canvas's Enriched Candidate Data, you’ll get over 75 self-reported data points on all applicants to get a much more nuanced and well-rounded picture of your candidates.
Use the right metrics to monitor
Your true power lies within your data. Using the right metrics to monitor your diversity recruiting efforts is not the key to success, it’s imperative. How will you know if you’re on the right track if you aren’t measuring and analyzing your data? The truth is, you won’t.
What metrics and data should you be tracking? While every company will differ on what metrics actually matter, according to Fast Company, here is a good place to start: diversity within your leadership team, quarter over quarter progress, frequency, and specificity and employee engagement survey data. They also propose tracking other metrics like, “referral pipeline diversity, total available market of talent, and Employee Resource Group engagement.”
Let’s not forget how tricky it is to set and measure against DE&I goals. You shouldn’t expect overnight success. It takes time, hard work, and diligence. Fast Company also suggests implementing “company-wide diversity goals and focusing on department and team-level initiative.”
When it comes to tracking candidate data, one big problem for talent professionals is that it's hard to track throughout the hiring pipeline. Are you able to measure where diverse talent drops off? To really see where you’re making the most impact and what could use improvement, you’ll want to pinpoint the conversion rate at every point of your funnel. Luckily, Canvas does this for you.
Moving the needle forward in diversity recruiting isn't an easy task. But it’s a necessary one. It takes thorough research, hard work, a long-term plan, and measurable goals. Hopefully, with these steps, you’ll be better equipped to break down long-standing barriers and help your company hire diverse talent on all levels.
Looking to hit your diversity hiring goals? Request a free demo or contact our team at [email protected]
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