Does your company regularly recruit and onboard diverse candidates? The business world often has major disparities based on race, gender, age, and other factors.

Hiring a diverse workforce isn’t just the right thing to do. It can also dramatically affect your company’s bottom line. In fact, research from McKinsey found that the companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity are 36% more likely to have “above-average profitability” than those in the bottom quartile.

Despite this, sourcing diverse talent can be a challenge. Recruiters often don’t understand the value of diversity recruitment, or they don’t know where to look for diverse talent. When hiring managers actively diversify their candidate pool, they can improve the company culture and hire and support a more diverse workforce.

What Is Diversity Recruitment, and Why Does It Matter?

what is diversity recruitment

New ideas and collaboration thrive when people from different backgrounds come together. Plus, your company needs diverse talent to understand how to serve customers and clients of a variety of backgrounds and identities.

Despite this, many companies aren’t very diverse. In one Harvard Business Review survey of 40 case studies, 78% of employees said there wasn’t diversity within the members of their company’s leadership team. Worse still, Nasdaq reports that 55% of workers have been discriminated against at their current workplace.

A healthy company culture treats everyone with fairness and respect, no matter their background. Part of that is sustainably practicing diversity recruitment. Diversity recruitment should focus on how to encourage applicants from a greater variety of races and ethnicities, sexual orientations, individuals with disabilities, and female candidates, especially in fields where they’re underrepresented.

People want (and deserve) to work at a company where they feel welcome. They don’t want to feel ostracized because they are a minority at the organization.

The Need for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion

Many companies include increasing workplace diversity in their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. 

These initiatives do more than try to increase diverse hires. Equity ensures that a company’s processes and procedures promote impartiality and fairness for all. They account for differences in opportunity so that every employee has a fair chance to succeed and grow in their career. Inclusion ensures that diverse employees actually feel welcome within the business.

Strong DEI initiatives can strengthen your employer brand and make a company more appealing to diverse talent. Inclusivity in the workplace is especially important for younger workers. Research from Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative found that 83% of millennials “are actively engaged when they believe their organization fosters an inclusive culture.”

Successful DEI efforts require more than a diversity statement. For example, companies should seek input from diverse staff members about their experiences and suggestions. It’s important to make sure team members feel comfortable giving this feedback. 

Create regular processes to collect these thoughts, and make sure to turn this input into action. If your leadership team isn’t very diverse, bringing in outside counsel can help you better evaluate and address these concerns in an appropriate manner. 

Another way to increase DEI at work is to give new employees mentorship and other support, such as employee resource groups. When people from diverse backgrounds feel accepted and supported, they are more likely to stick with your company for the long haul.

For many businesses, improving DEI starts with the hiring and onboarding process.

Creating a Successful Diversity Recruitment Strategy

creating a successful diversity recruiting career

Successful diversity recruitment starts with soliciting applications from more diverse candidates. Recruiters should actively seek individuals with diverse backgrounds who can add to the company’s culture. 

Implementing these key practices can improve talent acquisition so you can build a more diverse organization:

Be Mindful of Job Descriptions

Believe it or not, a successful diversity recruitment process starts with your job descriptions and ads. Many job postings actually use language that subtly deter certain candidates. For example, words like “dominant,” “leader,” or “aggressively” imply a desire for male applicants. This is especially true for female candidates. Research from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that job descriptions with masculine language are less appealing to female applicants, who felt they would be less likely to “belong” at that organization. 

Adding too many requirements to a job listing can also drive away diverse candidates. For example, jobs that have GPA requirements for recent college grads disproportionately drive away minority applicants, who often have lower GPAs because they had to work long hours to get through school. 

Keep your list of requirements short. Only include “must-haves” that are essential. For example, experience with your internal software may be a plus. But if you can easily train new hires how to use it, this shouldn’t be considered a must-have skill on the job listing.

Make Your DEI Commitment Part of Your Employer Brand

Employer branding can play a big role in whether someone decides to apply for an open position. Put your commitment to DEI and being an equal opportunity employer front and center. Describe the initiatives and resources you offer to diverse workers. Tell applicants about any accommodations you offer, including transportation assistance, parental leave, or flexible work arrangements.

By highlighting your efforts to provide a welcoming and inclusive space, diverse candidates will be more likely to apply in the first place.

Diversify Your Outreach

Where you try to source your candidates can make all the difference for diversity recruitment. Rather than continuing to recruit from the same places you’ve always used, consider doing outreach on job boards that focus on diverse candidates.

For example, Female Executive Search can help businesses find qualified female candidates for C-suite positions. AbilityLinks connects employers with candidates with disabilities. Strategically post your job listings on platforms to gain applications from more diverse candidates.

Candidate outreach is the first step in becoming more likely to diversify your team. Reaching out to diverse candidates shouldn’t be done to check off a box. It should be done with the genuine intent to add to your company culture by bringing in new perspectives and experiences.

Eliminate Unconscious Biases

Unconscious bias is a common problem in the interview process that can keep your business from making diverse hires. Remember: It isn’t enough to interview several diverse candidates, only to exclusively hire non-diverse people.

Unfortunately, unconscious bias can cause interviewers to prefer individuals who look and think like them. Bias training is essential for all interviewers to help them understand and address their biases and treat all candidates fairly.

One tactic to eliminate this issue is to give recruiters blind resumes. These resumes hide data that could identify an applicant’s race, gender, or other attributes. Hiding the name of the person and other personal information ensures that recruiters focus on the applicant’s experience and qualifications. This can have a bigger impact than you might expect, as research has found that individuals with “white sounding” names are typically more likely to get called in for an interview.

Having the same set of interview questions for each candidate can also help address bias. A standardized set of questions that focus on necessary attributes and skills for the open position will put the focus on the candidate’s qualifications, rather than their background.

An article from the Harvard Business School also recommends giving work sample tests so candidates “can be evaluated side by side based on their work, not the employer’s unconscious bias that may influence their judgement.”

Provide a Winning Hiring Process For Diverse Candidates

provide a winning hiring process for diverse candidates

Hiring team members from diverse backgrounds gives you access to valuable new insights and perspectives (and can increase profits). However, you need thoughtful procedures and goals to make your workplace more diverse and then support underrepresented employees.

By making diversity recruitment a priority, you can build a stronger talent pool that more accurately reflects the world we live in and the people your company serves. Diversity hiring isn’t about checking off boxes. It helps ensure that all job seekers are given a fair opportunity. And, in the end, it creates a win-win by encouraging a more inclusive work environment that elevates all voices.

Make sure your brand appeals to diverse candidates during the interview process. In addition to offering branded scheduling and engagement tools, Prelude can help train your interviewers to provide fair, engaging, and consistent interviews for all candidates. Strong, fair interviewers will help the rest of your workforce's diversity efforts succeed.