As the most tumultuous year in recent history comes to an end, organizations are thinking about how they will handle operations in a variety of areas in 2021—and diversity and inclusion is a top issue that companies will continue to address in the new year and beyond. Having a culture of diversity and inclusion is a win-win proposition for employees and organizations alike because it can lead to increased innovation, engagement, job satisfaction, and revenue. But in order to reap the benefits of a strong DE&I culture, you have to be prepared and you have to have a robust recruiting strategy in place.
Are you ready for DE&I recruiting success in 2021? Ask yourself the following ten questions.
1. Do you have a DE&I recruiting plan?
It’s great to decide that you want to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion into your recruiting measures, but like every other part of recruiting and onboarding, you need to create a solid plan. You can do that by looking at the areas in your organization that need improvement—whether you want to attract more talent of different genders, races, or cultural backgrounds—and creating measurable goals that will help you tackle those challenges. This will allow you to create a plan, monitor your progress, and change course as needed.
2. Do you have policies that promote diversity and inclusion?
It’s not enough to say you want to create a culture of DE&I in your organization—you need to have policies that back it up in order to ensure that you can attract and retain diverse talent. One example of a policy you can create includes offering flexible work schedules that allow employees to take time off to celebrate different religious holidays. Another is implementing a policy on reporting on workplace microaggressions and harassment. Other areas that your diversity policy can address include professional development opportunities, promotions, company transfers, compensation, benefits, and termination.
3. Do you get input from your diverse employees?
The best way to know if your company is on the right track when it comes to diversity and inclusion is to ask your current employees from diverse backgrounds what their experiences have been. By conducting anonymous surveys, you can get an idea of how much employees feel like they belong in your organization and what areas they feel you can improve upon. Also, you can get information from these workers about the things that are important to their specific communities so you can better cater to their needs and make your workplace more attractive to them.
4. Do you have a blind recruiting strategy?
The first known use of blind recruiting was done by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in the 1970s when it sought to increase its female musicians by having everyone audition behind a partition to hide their identity. This increased the number of female musicians exponentially and the approach spread throughout the industry. And for good reason: Though recruiters on a conscious level may be completely committed to diversity in their workplace, they may still have unconscious biases that can preclude them from making fair hiring decisions.
In order to combat this, you can adopt a blind approach to hiring. For example, blind interviews allow candidates to anonymously answer initial screening questions electronically. Also, blind resumes allow you to blackout all of the personal information from applicants—such as names, addresses, dates of birth, and locations—so that you’re not using these factors to evaluate them.
By utilizing these strategies, you can reduce a variety of biases, such as pedigree bias, which is the preference to hire those who have “elite” qualifications or connections; confirmation bias, which is the tendency to seek out information about a candidate that reinforces preconceived notions about a group they are a member of; and the horn effect, which refers to the inclination to use a perceived negative trait about a person in order to make assumptions about them and assign other unfavorable characteristics to them.
5. Do you go where diverse potential employees already are?
You can’t necessarily expect diverse talent to be able to find your organization—you need to put your company on their radar by going to the places they already congregate. For example, there are numerous job boards for specific demographics where you can post your job advertisements. Also, you can cultivate relationships with associations in your industry that specialize in diverse membership groups. For example, an engineering firm that wants to attract more candidates from underrepresented groups and women can partner with organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers, the Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists, and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society in order to find diverse talent.
In addition, you can connect with potential employees from untapped populations by partnering with local colleges and universities to make your organization known among people on campus and alumni groups that have a diverse membership. Similarly, creating internship programs and scholarships that target the groups you want to recruit will help you reach talented students from underrepresented communities.
6. Do you leverage technology to help eliminate bias?
Taking advantage of technology can help to eliminate bias throughout the recruitment process. From job descriptions to resume screenings, there are programs that help to detect potential bias and remove the human element that causes it. For example, using technology that evaluates resumes solely based on specific criteria helps you create a shortlist of candidates that are selected based on their skills—thus eliminating personal opinions from these screenings that may cause discrimination or compliance issues. Also, you can use technology to create workforce analytics that will give you a clear picture of the compensation and benefit patterns in your organization. With this data, you can determine where there are discrepancies between earnings and work to close any pay gaps that are contrary to effective diversity practices.
7. Do your job advertisements encourage diverse candidates to apply to your open positions?
The language that recruiters use when crafting job posts can either telegraph the importance of diversity or discourage prospective candidates from considering their company. For example, Canvas's research shows that male candidates are 27% more likely to apply for jobs than female candidates, so in order to recruit more female workers, adjust the language of your job advertisements to make them more psychologically appealing to women. Instead of using words that are typically considered more masculine—like ambitious, competitive, and confident—use more feminine words in your ads, like honest, loyal, and cooperative.
Another way that you can make your job ads more appealing to diverse groups is by keeping the use of business jargon to a minimum. Remember that many underrepresented candidates may be suffering from imposter syndrome, which is the belief that their experience and credentials are not good enough. Studies show that for many candidates, seeing a lot of jargon in job descriptions can be a turn off because it makes them feel like they’re not qualified for a position.
8. Do you use personality tests during the recruiting process?
Since personality tests are designed to measure candidates’ strengths and weaknesses irrespective of background, they are a great tool to help make hiring more inclusive. This will allow you to determine if candidates are a good fit for your organization based on their skills, traits, and motivations while not adversely affecting applicants in minority groups.
9. Do you have a culture that allows employees from diverse backgrounds to thrive? Getting diverse workers interested in your company is great, but in order to retain them, you have to create an environment of inclusion that makes them want to stay. Employees want to feel supported in the workplace, so it’s important for you to create a culture that makes it easy for them to succeed. One way you can do this is by forming employee resource groups, which are designed to allow different segments of an organization’s population—such as racial backgrounds, women, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ+ community—to come together in their workplace to support each other, express their concerns, and effectuate positive changes within an organization.
Another way to support workers from diverse groups is through mentoring programs. Not only does this give members of underserved groups the opportunity to learn new skills from someone in a managerial position, but it also helps them connect with leaders in ways that they may not have otherwise been able to—thus creating more opportunities to climb up the organizational ladder.
10. Are you letting the community know that DE&I is important to your organization?
Having a culture of diversity is important, but you can’t further expand your reach in untapped communities if you don’t let them know how much you value inclusion in your workplace. Be sure to promote your accomplishments in this area as often as possible—from social media posts that have photos of your staff to job postings that mention your inclusive culture. Don’t forget to highlight your diversity mission statement by featuring prominently on your organization’s website.
Recruiting with diversity and inclusion in mind is by no means easy, but the benefits to your organization are well worth the effort. By answering key questions about your DE&I strategy, you can start 2021 with a plan for success that will help you recruit and retain the best diverse talent next year and beyond.
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