Improve Your Diversity Recruitment (And Why It Really Does Matter)

How diverse are the people you work with?

Most employers have always paid attention to the answer to this question, in part because they recognize that a diverse workforce is a sign of fair hiring practices, and in part because they’ve always had to due to federal compliance laws.
But in addition to equality and compliance, today’s progressive employers are prioritizing diversity because research finds it drives better outcomes for the business and all involved. They’re realizing that the more initiative they take to proactively seek out qualified professionals from different walks of life—as opposed to just reactively ensuring all job seekers have equal opportunity—the more the company, job seekers, employees, and end-consumers benefit. 
First, let’s remember that hiring for diversity isn’t the same as hiring for cultural fit; though the terms may sound as though they’re related.

Hiring for cultural fit generally refers to the alignment between employee and employer values; hiring for diversity is about engaging with groups of people traditionally underrepresented or marginalized.

Groups that contribute to a company’s diversity typically include those from underrepresented races, genders, ethnicities, ages, disabilities, sexual orientations, religions, or socio-economic backgrounds. They’re individuals belonging to groups that, for a myriad of reasons, have not reaped as many opportunities as 
others over time. 

So back to the benefits of maintaining a diverse workforce—the research really says it all. 

Gender-diverse companies are 15 percent more likely to perform better than their peers and ethnically-diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to outperform peers.1
For every one percent increase in racial diversity, there’s a nine percent increase in sales revenue.2
Workplaces perceived as diverse have the highest levels of employee engagement.3
Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely have financial returns above their national industry peers.
Findings from the Harvard Business Review suggest that companies that create inclusive environments have employees that are 3.5 times more likely to offer up original ideas and insights.5
While these points demonstrate that employers have incentives to be more proactively involved in diversity hiring, not all have invested the effort or have been successful. Forty-one percent of managers say they are “too busy” to implement diversity initiatives,6 while just fifty-seven percent of recruiters say their talent acquisition strategies are designed to attract diverse candidates.7 There are clear opportunities for employers to make diversifying their talent pools a top priority—it’s a matter of finding effective ways to do it.

The Starting Line: What’s the Goal?

An achievable diversity hiring goal is not to simply “become more diverse”. To craft a strategy that has a real chance at delivering results, recruiters need to know how to channel their efforts. That’s why a hiring goal should be based on an understanding of what types of diversity is missing, and where. That means taking a look at your hiring and employee data from multiple angles.
For example, you might find that collectively you have an ethnically-diverse workforce, but that the accounting department individually doesn’t contribute to any of that diversity. With a specific goal in mind, like increasing ethnic diversity in accounting by end of year, determine the metric you’ll use to measure the success of your efforts. What will success look like, and how exactly will you use your applicant tracking system to measure progress over time? Consider what types of ongoing monitoring and reporting will be needed and how to use your applicant tracking system to carry out. 

Meet Job Seekers Where They Are

With goals and metrics identified, recruiters can begin the work of building more diverse talent pools. Job boards can be a good place to start, because they remain one of the most popular ways job seekers learn about opportunities. Expanding the number of high-performance job boards you post to can be instrumental to amplifying your reach. Keep in mind that even if job boards are not your top sourcing channel (maybe you find most candidates come through your corporate website or social sites), it doesn’t mean job seekers aren’t looking at job boards. Sixty-seven percent of professionals said they actually use job boards to research jobs, so being present in this arena still matters.
Relying on an applicant tracking system that lets you post to hundreds of different job boards without extra expense can be helpful, as can targeting on niche job boards (such as, women in technology, military veterans, or international job seekers). By changing up the channels you’re currently using and becoming more active on those that have a specific job seeker focus, the chances that a qualified job seeker from an underrepresented background sees your posts can increase.
In the postings that you share on these niche job boards, you may also want to give candidates the ability to just “connect”, rather than just apply. If you have the right candidate relationship management (CRM) tool, this type of engagement with passive candidates can be possible.

When job seekers click your “connect with us” link, rather than apply right at that moment, their information is imported into the CRM’s talent pools.

This opens up two opportunities: one is that the recruiter now has a way to stay in touch with the candidate over time, so they can share more information about why their company is a great place to work and what opportunities are on the horizon. Recruiters can use their CRM to search from within, and effectively manage, their various talent pools of passive candidates. The second is that the job seeker now has an opportunity to learn more about the company, so that if they do decide to apply, they’re more confident they’re pursuing something that aligns with their values and interests.
Meeting job seekers where they are doesn’t have to start with digital sourcing. Aligning with community groups can also be a simple, but effective way to build a presence among groups of job seekers that might not know about your company or may not organically seek out your job opportunities. Connect with local and global professional organizations that represent diverse groups to determine if there are opportunities to hold, or participate in, recruiting events their members would attend. CRM tools built to support event management with things like mobile kiosks can be helpful to deploy in these contexts, too. 

Deliver Messages That Resonate

Using your CRM, you have the power to customize how you connect with job seekers. This can be valuable when reaching out to job seekers from underrepresented groups, because it gives you the latitude to create email templates, write job descriptions, or frame unique career portals with content that addresses specific needs and interests. CRM software like iCIMS Connect lets recruiters deploy different recruitment marketing campaigns to different groups within their talent pool, making customized communication seamless.
In addition to customizing content for different talent pools, ensuring all recruiting remarketing materials represent an inclusive point of view is an important part of attracting diverse applicants. Be sure that a job post doesn’t insinuate that assumptions are being made about applicants. For example, striking a balance between the use of words with a masculine connotation (like competitive, decisive, outspoken) and words with a feminine connotation (like responsible, dependable, team player) can help ensure that job seekers don’t feel the job is best suited for a specific gender. 
Understanding how recruitment marketing materials and even the screening questions within your application may or may not be biased can be difficult, but taking a look at resources like Harvard’s Project Implicit website can be a place to start, as can using your software’s reporting features to monitor how language changes impact applicant demographic over time.
Focusing on what the job itself will require an employee to do, rather than the qualifications an employee needs to possess, can also encourage more diverse applicants. This becomes relevant in light of research that finds that men will apply for jobs when they feel they are sixty percent qualified, while women will apply when they feel they are one hundred percent qualified.8

Beyond the words you write, think about overall branding, and how that comes through in the corporate images you share. Can applicants visualize themselves on your career portal, or your company’s social profiles? If you’re tackling a diversity issue you may not have the representation you’d like to feature; however, work with what you have and be clear about your aims for inclusivity. If the C-Suite doesn’t necessarily reflect needed diversity, feature the high-performing employees that do and tell the story of how your company emphasizes internal advancement. On your corporate social sites, consider sharing posts that feature bios of underrepresented employees, or share third-party articles that focus on topics of business diversity or whichever underrepresented group the company wants to reach. 

Champion an Employee Referral Program

Asking current employees to refer associates in their professional networks for jobs is another way to support diversity. It’s a means of getting in front of those that may not have otherwise considered learning more about your company but who may be inclined after learning someone in their network is not only employed there, but is encouraging others to apply. Employee referral programs save both recruiters and employees time when they fold in an element of automation, so that sharing each new opening at the company isn’t a manual task. 
A solution like iCIMS’ Social Distribution tool can automatically post job openings to participating employees’ social networks, like LinkedIn and Facebook. If someone in their network clicks on the post and applies, the application is then automatically tracked to the employee, so they can receive proper recognition and reward. 
A strong employee referral program can be a pillar of long-term diversity hiring, too; consider that nearly two-thirds of referred employees have referred at least one person to an open position at their current company.9 Those you hire through referrals today may help attract more diverse hires in the future. 
You can also work with your company’s leadership to find ways to communicate your diversity hiring initiatives. Let employees know that the company strives to continually improve the diversity of its workforce, and that submitting referrals is one way current employees can help the company reach that goal. Employees want the companies they work for to be diverse: fifty-seven percent of employees think their companies should be diverse.10 In addition to operating in a spirit of general transparency, talking about your diversity hiring goals is an important message for hiring managers to hear. They are partners in the hiring process and should be cognizant of how their hiring selections impact the company’s overall demographics that can in turn influence company success. 

The Finish Line: There Isn’t One

If after taking a look at the metrics and finding that the goal you identified at the outset has been accomplished, remember that maintaining a diverse workforce is an ongoing process; there is no finish line to be crossed. In addition to pursuing sourcing strategies that proactively engage with diverse job seekers, a commitment to new hire onboarding and talent management practices that make employees want to stay will be necessary. In other words, successfully hiring diverse employees won’t be impactful if those employees don’t end up staying. Make diversity hiring a priority today and every day to build the dynamic workforce your company needs to stay competitive.

How iCIMS Can Help

iCIMS is the leading provider of talent acquisition solutions that help businesses win the war for top talent. iCIMS empowers companies to manage their entire hiring process within the industry’s most robust Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Built on the foundation of a best-to-market talent acquisition software suite, iCIMS’ PaaS framework, UNIFi, allows employers to expand the capabilities of their core talent acquisition technology by integrating with the largest partner ecosystem in talent acquisition to help them attract, find, screen, and manage candidates. Offering scalable, easy-to-use solutions that are backed by award-winning customer service, iCIMS supports more than 3,500 contracted customers and is one of the largest and fastest-growing talent acquisition solution providers.