Workplace Diversity Through Recruitment:
A Step-By-Step Guide
Workplace diversity has become a hot button issue and a top priority for recruitment departments.
A recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 57% of recruiters say their talent acquisition strategies are designed to attract diverse candidates.57%
of recruiters have strategies to attract diverse candidates
Achieving greater diversity in the workplace is not just a noble and compliance-related goal.
The rise in diversity is related to the increasingly collaborative and team-based structure of modern organizations: the evidence is clear that companies that can effectively recruit and manage a diverse workforce have a clear competitive advantage.
Recruiters and talent acquisition leaders everywhere are being tasked to increase workplace diversity. So why is it so hard to move the needle?
Is it a pipeline issue as it’s often argued? Are unconscious biases interfering with recruitment decision making? As with most complicated issues, it’s all of the above. However, promising new research is showing us insights on how to effectively increase diversity in the workplace.
We created this step-by-step guide on how to effectively, fairly, and objectively increase diversity through your recruitment.
What is workplace diversity?
Workplace diversity is the idea is that your workplace should reflect the makeup of greater society.
The concept of diversity in the workplace has become important because historically, this wasn’t the case. When people think of diversity, they often think of demographic groups like race or gender. However, diversity is a much broader and more inclusive concept.
There are two main categories of diversity:
- Inherent diversity: demographic characteristics like race, sex, and age.
- Acquired diversity: factors such as education, experience, values, skills and knowledge.
Workplace diversity is defined as understanding, accepting, and valuing differences between people of different races, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, disabilities, and sexual orientations, as well as differences in personalities, skill sets, experiences, and knowledge bases.
The benefits of a diverse workplace
Diversity has become a top priority for recruitment and talent acquisition. Based on the outcomes correlated with diversity, it’s easy to see why:
- Forbes Insights has identified workforce diversity and inclusion as a key driver of internal innovation and business growth.
- Professors Neal and colleagues have found that diversity creates better performance for product development and creating new markets.
- Professors Hong and Page showed that groups of diverse problem solvers outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers.
- According to McKinsey’s analysis, companies with diverse executive boards enjoy significantly higher earnings and returns on equity.
- Research conducted at Harvard Business School found that having multicultural social networks increases your creativity.
- A study of more than 500 organizations has found that every 1% increase in gender and racial diversity is correlated with a 3% to 9% increase in sales revenue, respectively.
The challenges of a diverse workplace
Managing diversity comes with its own challenges because the benefits of diversity, such as innovation and creativity, are often the result of conflicting perspectives.
How these conflicts are resolved determine whether diversity will increase or decrease employee performance.
Acquired differences (e.g., differences in experiences, skill sets, and knowledge bases):
- produce constructive debate over an issue
- these constructive debates should be encouraged
Inherent diversity (e.g., demographic differences like race, gender, and age):
- can sometimes lead to interpersonal conflict
- these conflicts often require more thorough and lengthy communication to resolve and to reach a common understanding
- these conflicts need to be managed carefully to avoid lowering performance and morale
Other challenges of diversity in the workplace includes:
- promoting inclusiveness
- combating stereotypes and discriminatory behavior
- challenges of implementing diversity recruiting
- management and analysis of inclusion efforts
How to increase workplace diversity
An industry survey found that 67% of active and passive job seekers said that diversity is an important factor when considering companies and job offers.67%
of job seekers use diversity as an important factor when considering companies and job offers
Attracting and increasing diverse talent is an important competitive differentiator for recruiters and talent acquisition leaders to develop.
Tip 1: Write your job posting more carefully to attract more diverse candidates
If you want to attract a more diverse candidate pool, the language you use in your job posting makes a difference.
A study on job postings found those using masculine-type words like “ambitious” and “dominate” were less appealing to female applicants.
Tip 2: Offer workplace policies that are more appealing to diverse candidates
Research has found that one of the best workplace policies to attract diverse candidates is flexibility.
- A PwC survey found that compared to older generations, Millennials place more importance on a company culture that emphasizes work/life balance.
- McKinsey’s research found that the #1 company cultural value that women are most attracted to is a flexible schedule.
- Research has found that one of the main reasons why employees quit their job is a long commute. Distance from downtown office locations is often correlated with more diverse neighbourhoods.
Offering flexibility such as work from home options and flexible hours not only helps you attract more diverse candidates, it helps prevent expensive employee turnover.
Tip 3: Use a personality assessment to recruit more diverse candidates
The usual criteria for recruiting candidates – what company they worked at, what school they went to, who they’re connected with – can often work to decrease the diversity of the candidate pipeline.
Fortunately, a valid and reliable personality assessment is a great tool to measure candidates’ personality traits, motivations, and skills.
Personality assessments increase workplace diversity because they don’t show adverse impact, that is, personality scores do not differ for minority group members.
A study of 150 companies found that those that used a personality assessment in their hiring had more racially diverse workforces.
Tip 4: Use sourcing methods that contain more diverse candidate pipelines
One of the reasons why candidate pipelines can be a bottleneck for diversity is a reliance on hiring through referrals.
In general, people’s networks are comprised of people who are similar to them demographically.
McKinsey’s research on diversity found that when men are asked about their professional networks, 63% of of them state it’s comprised of “more or all men” vs. 38% of women who state the same.
LinkedIn’s data found that women are less likely to rely on their networks and more likely to search for jobs on third-party websites and online job boards.
To increase the number of diverse candidates in your pipeline, take advantage of third-party websites to post your open roles.
In addition, provide candidates ways to find out more information about your company and employees. One of the best ways to do this is by creating a unique, media-rich page of your company showcasing your culture, leadership, and employees.
Tip 5: Strategically seed your pipelines with more diverse candidates
Research featured in the Harvard Business Review found that when the final candidate pool has one minority candidate, he or she has virtually zero chances of getting hired.
However, a “two in the pool effect” represents a promising method for overcoming unconscious biases and increasing diversity in the workplace.
If there are at least two female candidates in the final candidate pool:
- the odds of hiring a female candidateare 79X greater
If there are least two minority candidates in the final candidate pool:
- the odds of hiring a minority candidate are 194X greater
Technology tools for increasing diversity
One of the main barriers to increasing workplace diversity is lacking an official diversity recruitment policy or system.
Good intentions aren’t enough to overcome pipeline issues and unconscious biases that interfere with hiring both the best candidates and hiring more diverse candidates. Recruiters and talent acquisition departments need organizational support to put into place a system that has shown itself to be effective at increasing workplace diversity.
Research is showing the most promising methods for recruiting more diverse candidates include automated screening using AI and blind hiring.
Innovation 1: Resume screening using AI
Technology that uses AI is enabling recruiters and talent acquisition professionals to automate the most tedious and time-consuming part of their day: screening resumes and shortlisting candidates.
Automated resume screening increases diversity by replacing manual shortlisting.
This allows you to have a system that objectively and consistently applies shortlisting criteria across all candidates, which reduces problems related to compliance and discrimination.
Automated resume screening software lives inside your existing ATS that automates candidate shortlisting without disruptions to your workflow or the candidate application process.
This software uses your existing resume database to learn about employees’ experience, education, and other characteristics and applies this knowledge to new applicants in order to rate, rank, and shortlist the strongest candidates, free from unconscious biases.
Innovation 2: Blind resumes
The most common blind hiring method being tested currently is to remove the candidate’s name from their resume.
The theory behind removing the candidate’s name from his or her application is that it helps recruiters make decisions free from unconscious biases of the candidate’s race and gender. Other identifying personal information that is being removed from resumes is graduation year, college names, and even addresses.
This helps you identify high quality candidates because it enables you to more objectively evaluate a candidate’s skills, knowledge, and potential to succeed.
However, unless you use software that’s dedicated to anonymizing profiles and resumes, it can be time-consuming or even impossible to do on your own.
Innovation 3: Blind interviews
Extending the blind resume concept is the blind interview.
Companies are implementing blind interviews by removing personal identifying information from applications and getting candidates to anonymously answer job-related questions.
However, the recruitment process for candidates at most organizations includes a phone screen. It’s almost impossible to anonymize a voice over a phone call unless you’re using technology that’s specifically going to do this for you.
A summary of workplace diversity
- Definition: Workplace diversity is understanding, accepting, and valuing differences between people of different races, genders, ages, religions, disabilities, and sexual orientations, as well as differences in personalities, skill sets, experiences, and knowledge.
- The benefits of a diverse workplace: research has found that diverse workplaces are higher in performance, innovation, creativity, sales, and stock returns.
- The challenges of a diverse workplace: demographic diversity sometimes lead to interpersonal conflict which requires more communication and management to resolve and to reach a common understanding.
- How to increase workplace diversity: recruiters and talent acquisition leaders need support and an official system in place to increase diversity. Research has found that you can attract more diverse candidates through more carefully worded job postings, offering work schedule flexibility, using assessments, and tapping into novel candidate pipelines.
- Technology tools to increase diversity in the workplace: AI-powered software technology is enabling recruiters and talent acquisition professionals to increase diversity through automated screening and blind hiring.
Remember to bookmark this post and keep it as a resource to answer all of your diversity questions!