Methods for Diversity Hiring – Best Practices & Tips

diversity hiring
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In order to ensure that workplaces promote and maintain equal opportunities for their employees, many recruiters have implemented diversity hiring strategies. As diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) principles have become integrated into workplaces, recruiters aim to reflect this by using inclusive hiring strategies to attract diverse candidates.

Diversity hiring does not only positively impact the workplace, by diversifying perspectives, skills, and experiences, but it also ensures that diverse candidates are given equal opportunities as biases are reduced. Ultimately, having an inclusive hiring strategy improves outcomes for the existing employees and prospective candidates.

What Is Diversity Hiring?

Diversity hiring is an inclusive hiring strategy which involves reducing bias during the recruitment process. Diversity hiring ensures that diverse candidates are not subject to unfair bias such as on the basis of race, gender, education and sexual orientation during the recruitment process. Diversity hiring is similar to providing equal opportunity – however, diversity hiring involves making changes to the hiring process to improve the diversity of candidates who apply. 

You might have heard of the ‘diversity hire’ before – which is not the same as diversity hiring. Diversity hires are employees who are hired in order to fill a quota regarding race or gender ratios, for example. Although a candidate might be qualified and diverse, an individual's background should not impact their ability to be hired. Diversity hires actually contradict the idea of diversity hiring – as hiring a candidate based on their ability to fill a quota is actually a biased practice itself!

Diversity hiring aims to reduce the biases which impact a candidate's ability to successfully be hired by a company. Although diversity hiring practices are based on DEI principles, it differs from the concept of inclusivity. Inclusivity still plays a role in the hiring process, as arbitrarily excluding qualified candidates would not be fair. Inclusivity, however, is more related to workplace practices which aim to make everyone feel included, whereas diversity hiring aims to overcome biases which impact a diverse candidate's ability to be included in the first place. 

How to Increase Diversity in Hiring

Improving diversity in hiring involves reviews of the recruitment process to evaluate whether bias or obstacles are present. To attract and retain more diverse candidates, consider our tips for hiring diverse talent: 

💡 Examine your current hiring process: 

Think of your existing protocol for hiring candidates – is there any bias present in the process? Think of steps which might encourage or discourage particular demographics from applying, and find a way to rephrase or adjust them to make them more inclusive.  

💡 Establish specific diversity targets: 

Although we established earlier that diversity hires are not the best way of hiring minorities or diverse candidates, you can still make diversity targets which are unbiased. Think of how to balance the current team to make the employee demographic more representative of your clientele or industry. Rather than making numerical quotas for particular demographics, think holistically of how teams or departments can be diversified in terms of race, gender, age, etc. 

💡 Set clear and objective criteria: 

To avoid making up an arbitrary hiring quota for particular demographics, use objective criteria relating to the experiences, unique skills, knowledge or perspectives which a diverse candidate will bring. Consider company goals or consumer demographics and think of ways hiring diverse talent will improve these outcomes. 

💡 Create job descriptions with neutral language:

The first impression diverse candidates receive of a job or company is from the job description. Review current job descriptions and think of ways to make the language either more inclusive or neutral, to avoid accidentally discouraging diverse candidates from applying. For example, avoid using gendered or ableist language, which might imply that only particular candidates are welcome to apply. Also, consider including your company’s diversity hiring policy and equal opportunity statement in the job description too.

💡 Invite people from diverse backgrounds to join the hiring team: 

Being tasked with hiring diverse talent can be overwhelming – consider inviting members of management or other recruiters who are a part of the target demographic/s or can provide perspective to provide their input. You can ask colleagues to proofread job descriptions, review resumes, sit in on interviews or provide advice on your diversity employment strategy. 

💡 Increase diversity in candidate screening and shortlisting:

Avoiding bias in the first step of the process will help you with having a pool of high-quality and diverse candidates. Consider using ATS as a screening method to avoid implicit biases based on name, gender, age or educational background, as ATS will select the best candidates based on the job requirements, not demographic information. Additionally, you can strategically seed your shortlist by deliberately including a range of diverse candidates to interview, increasing the opportunity to hire diverse candidates. Other strategies can include initial phone interviews over video calls or a blind resume review. 

💡 Post jobs at targeted job sites or platforms: 

If you find that your diversity goals are not being met despite these changes, there are diversity hiring platforms which can help you widen your scope. These platforms can help connect you with diverse candidates. Whilst this seems like you could be making diversity hires, a targeted platform can help you extend your scope if you are hiring for a very niche industry or role. 

💡 Evaluate the hiring process: 

Aside from advertising jobs and shortlisting candidates, reflect on the interviewing, onboarding and training processes in place. Would anyone, regardless of their personal or social background be able to participate in the hiring process? Are there biased practices which impact the way diverse employees can succeed in these steps? Consult with employees to get perspectives on how to improve equitable hiring processes. 

Tips for Best Diversity Hiring Practices

Although we’ve established the areas of the hiring process which need to be addressed to promote diversity hiring, there are extra non-tangible methods which can be practiced when recruiting diverse candidates. Having the right attitude towards improving diversity in the workplace will assist you in forming a holistic diversity hiring process. Here are our tips for diversity hiring best practices and forming a diversity hiring policy: 

✅ Always ask for help, advice and feedback: 

You might not personally relate to being a minority or under-represented group in the workplace – and that’s okay! Maintaining curiosity and being open to feedback from a variety of groups will help you form robust and effective diversity hiring practices. Ask people in your company from all backgrounds for their feedback on job descriptions, interview methods and the diversity targets you’ve set. Likewise, you can ask about their personal experiences, such as being subject to bias, or feeling unwelcome when applying for jobs.

✅ Be transparent: 

To attract more diverse candidates, maintain transparency throughout the hiring process. Starting from the job advertisement, all the way to onboarding, be clear regarding salary, job responsibilities, challenges, and expectations for the role. Hiring diverse talent can mean a difference in age, experience, personal attributes and culture – therefore maintaining transparency can allow diverse candidates to have confidence through the recruitment process. 

✅ Educate yourself and your team: 

When setting diversity hiring goals, involve your team by holding culture and diversity-related team-building sessions or meetings. Educating your team about diversity and inclusive hiring does not have to be dry or boring; employees can share their own unique culture, or can learn together more about the demographics, history and culture of employees or your consumers! Learning about culture can help your team think of ways to welcome or work with new diverse candidates. 

✅ Promote diverse people to leadership roles: 

Having representation at all levels of management promotes diversity, inclusion and tolerance in the workplace. Diverse candidates who research the company will see diverse leaders as a plus – and it shows that the workplace provides equal opportunity, too. Rather than accidentally making diversity hires by only promoting employees based on their diversity, consider making their leadership position diversity-based. 

✅ Think of the process holistically: 

Making diversity hiring targets and transforming your company’s diversity hiring policy can make it seem that diverse candidates need to be hired immediately. In reality, diversity hiring best practices are for the improvement of diversity and representation in the workplace; which takes time. Attracting and hiring diverse talent will take time-based on the open positions and structure of your company; it's about having equal opportunity and inclusive hiring practices in place to ensure diverse candidates are included in the process. 

🔑 Key Takeaways:

Diversity hiring aims to improve and promote DEI principles throughout the whole recruitment process. Hiring diverse talent might be a challenge based on the industry or role, however making improvements to the recruitment process can improve diversity over time.

Being transparent, having representation, and being mindful of language can help you bring in more diverse candidates, and reducing bias by using inclusive hiring practices will give equal opportunity to all candidates. Using targeted diversity hiring platforms while holistically improving the recruitment process can ensure that diverse candidates are a part of your talent acquisition process.

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--- Originally written by Bronte McNamara ---

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