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8 Tips to Improve Diversity & Inclusion in Recruiting

iCIMS Staff
June 25, 2019

Key takeaways:

  • Start with your leadership team
  • Source from a wide variety of places
  • Create inclusive job descriptions
  • Implement technology that builds a diverse talent pipeline
  • Ensure your interview process is inclusive
  • Promote internal communities and groups
  • Make training and education a priority
  • Implement a data-driven approach

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) defines diversity as “the collective mixture of differences and similarities that include individual and organizational characteristics, values, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, preferences, and behaviors.”

In comparison, SHRM describes inclusion as “a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.”

To put it another way, picture a salad. Diversity is a salad with many different ingredients in the bowl. Inclusion is mixing that salad, so every bite is full of each flavor.

Despite the clear distinctions between the two, diversity and inclusion often get used interchangeably. Why? The two are intertwined when it comes to cultivating your uniquely diverse and inclusive environment.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “In the context of the workplace, diversity equals representation. Without inclusion, however, the crucial connections that attract diverse talent, encourage their participation, foster innovation, and lead to business growth won’t happen.”

Ultimately, diverse workforces are good for business because:

  • Diverse perspectives fosters innovation
  • Diverse teams perform better and come up with a wider array of ideas and solutions
  • Diversity can help your company become a global leader
  • Diversity will improve your work culture and help you attract superior talent
  • Diversity improves your company’s customer service


Building a diverse team starts with recruitment

Here are eight proven ways you can hire better:

1. Start with your leadership team

Your career site and job postings promote your organization’s commitment to diversity. But does the makeup of your workforce reflect this?

Start by looking at your C-suite. Are they all the same race? Are they all male? Your leadership team heavily influences the culture of your company and shapes the brand’s image.

U.S. companies are making progress but still struggle with gender issues. Examples include the gender pay gap, parental leave, hiring women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) industries, and promoting women to C-level positions.

Having female leadership may boost the confidence of a company’s overall workforce when it comes to compensation. According to iCIMS data, office professionals (both men and women) are significantly more likely to feel confident about their ability to negotiate salary when half or more of the executives are women.

Likewise, both men and women aspire to obtain a C-suite position in similar numbers. For example, 87% of millennial women and 74% of millennial men want to hold an executive-level position. By contrast, only 32% of high-level or C-level leaders are women.

The best way to tackle these challenges is to address them head-on with employees and candidates. Reiterate your commitment to diversity and be open about plans the organization has to increase this in the future.

2. Source from a wide variety of places

Sourcing can directly impact the type of talent you want to hire. Whether it’s veteran status, age, disability, gender, or any other characteristic, consider using a wide range sources to attract diverse talent.

Start by identifying your top sources of hires for diverse candidates and consider increases resources there. Next, talk to current employees and find out where they first discovered your organization and what got them to apply. Ask where else they searched when looking for a job and why.

Finally, explore job boards and hiring events you may not have considered in the past. Talk to colleagues from other organizations (and even industries) where they look. The return on investment may be small at first, but consider the overall value a more diverse team brings before ruling out unproven sources.

3. Create inclusive job descriptions

Once you have job seekers’ attention, don’t lose it with a job description full of jargon and biased language.

Job seekers look for clues as to whether they’ll fit in at an organization. Bias can be subtle, especially in fields traditionally dominated by a group of people that mostly look and think the same.

For example, job listings in engineering and programming are more likely to use masculine language – because the culture skews in that direction. This may have the unintended consequence of deterring women who may have otherwise applied.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Avoid overwhelming or confusing candidates by identifying and including only the most necessary details.
  • Use bulleted lists to break the copy down into digestible parts and group requirements under themes like “technical skills” or “management skills.”
  • Ensure your job descriptions are gender-neutral and have clear and straightforward language.

 4. Implement technology that builds a diverse talent pipeline

While we’re all looking for the next best thing to streamline our workloads and improve speed-to-hire, it’s essential to find a solution that actively promotes diversity and equal opportunity for all applicants.

  • Embrace AI hiring software. Not all AI is created equal, which is why it’s important to dig into the foundational principles and ethics of your provider, in addition to their overall functionalities.
  • Find an applicant tracking system (ATS) that seamlessly integrates with HR data and solutions. This creates a centralized location to easily and efficiently manage every step of the hiring process. Your ATS will be able to sort candidates by specific factors and identify whether they are male or female, Hispanic, veterans, etc.

Once you build that pipeline, regularly communicate with those candidates and keep them “warm” by showcasing ways your company embraces diversity in the office. Accurately display your company’s unique culture on the career site and include video testimonials from different types of people.

 5. Ensure your interview process is inclusive

iCIMS data shows that the top three things women look for in a job are health benefits, schedule flexibility, and work/life balance. By contrast, men look for health benefits, work/life balance, and career advancement.

Ensure your candidates know what your company offers regarding PTO days, maternity/paternity leave, working from home, etc. Women tend not to ask about these benefits because they fear it will make them look uncommitted. Providing this clarity for them upfront saves them from feeling uncomfortable when bringing it up later.

6. Promote internal communities and groups

After your candidate has officially become your new hire, focus on assimilating them into the company. One great way to go this is by encouraging employers to create internal communities and groups.

For example, at iCIMS, we have a Women in Tech group founded by our Director of Test Engineering. The group discusses the everyday challenges of being a woman in the technology industry, how to overcome them, tips for success, etc. Embracing the communities your employees create allows them to feel welcome, understood, heard, and part of an influential group.

7. Make training and education a priority

Enroll in training courses to learn about various backgrounds, beliefs, and management and communication styles so you can learn about the way others think and operate to remove any fears or assumptions.

Acknowledging and examining your preconceived notions and biases is the first step. Only then can we address those issues by seeking education and training opportunities that may be negatively impacting diversity in the workplace.

Enrolling in ongoing training opportunities, and requiring your employees to do the same, will help you understand who you work with, including colleagues, customers, partners, and vendors. Use metrics to track engagement for training and offer additional tools to your employees to apply what they learned in their daily work life. As a result, your office will have better collaboration and camaraderie.

8. Implement a data-driven approach

Diversity has a significant impact on overall business results, so it’s time to put specific initiatives, metrics, and benchmarks into place. According to research from McKinsey analysis, gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their industry average, and ethnically-diverse companies are 35% more likely to beat the industry average.

Once you establish a goal, measure your program’s success by keeping the team accountable for hitting specific benchmarks. Don’t underestimate the power of your ATS to help source and track diverse candidates throughout the hiring process, including pinpointing areas that may need improvement.

Building and maintaining diversity at your company can be challenging. But cultural uniformity is counterproductive in any situation.

Keep these tips in mind and invest in HR tools and technology to help your team hire a diverse employee base and educate current employees on working with different types of people. A diverse workplace increases productivity, creativity, and is where the best products, strategies, and breakthroughs are made.

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