Increasing workforce diversity is a recognized strategy that can help make a company best-in-class. Rarely is this goal achieved by luck, though. To have people of all identities and backgrounds represented in your workplace, the talent acquisition process has to strive purposefully toward that goal. Getting a baseline measure of demographics within your organization, and setting goals for change, are two of the first steps you can take. Then, look for ways to bring diversity into your hiring process. Here are a few suggestions:
- Make it visible: If your organization doesn’t have an equal opportunity employment policy based on Federal EEOC (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) guidelines, creating one will help strengthen your process. These policies aim to establish a hiring practice that is age, race, gender and minority neutral. If your company already is an Equal Opportunity Employer, make sure you make it visible by stating it on your careers site, and in all of your materials and communications related to hiring.
- Evaluate your sourcing strategies: If your current pipeline doesn’t meet your diversity objectives, then broadening your sourcing will be essential. Invite a more heterogeneous talent pool into your funnel by looking for partnerships with diverse groups, media channels and social media outlets that enable you to share your organization’s commitment to cultivating an inclusive culture. You can also enhance your employee referral program so it’s widely known about and used.
- Gain your hiring managers’ support: Hiring managers represent a critical point for candidate engagement in the hiring process – you can’t elevate your workforce without their buy-in. Key points they need to understand: 1) Hiring decisions should continue to be based on best-fit, not a quota, and 2) By interacting with cultural sensitivity during interviews, they will get a truer picture of candidates’ skills, strengths and potential. If your organization has an Office of Diversity & Inclusion, partner with these colleagues. They will be strong advocates for your objective, and can provide expertise with cultural sensitivity training.
- Increase hiring process transparency: There may be skepticism both internally and with candidates when you make changes to attract a wider base of applicants, at least initially. Making your recruiting and interview process more transparent can help reduce that skepticism and build support as you show people your company is serious about a more representative workforce.
- Add exit interviews to your process: Interviewing employees who are leaving can provide insight into many aspects of your company’s employment experience. Use this data to inform continuous process improvement.
As you put process improvements in place, be sure to communicate them enterprise-wide. Having that consistency in hiring will build the foundation for long term success. Make it a goal to lean on that process moving forward to welcome talent with varied education, personalities, skill sets, experiences, and knowledge bases into your hiring process.
With luck, these differences will be the drivers of game-changing innovation for your organization.