4 Ways to Source a Diverse Candidate Pipeline

Despite a company’s best intentions, having a diverse workforce doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it can take hundreds of hours of work to get even one great hire through the door.

But it’s worth it!

As you may know, having a diverse and inclusive workforce has many benefits—with higher innovation-based revenues and financial performance key among them. But more than that, having a diverse workforce improves employee engagement and employer branding, which in turn attracts top talent.

So how do you get there? We have a few tips to work into your existing processes.

1. Audit your job descriptions and listings.

To diversify your candidate pool, a simple but impactful first step is to make sure your job listings don’t use gendered language.

Unfortunately, we all have unconscious biases that inform the way we communicate, even during the hiring process. For example, studies have shown that women are much less likely to apply to job listings that include words associated with masculine stereotypes. Even seemingly innocuous words like “ninja” or “foosball” may signal a certain type of workplace culture that can turn off potential applicants.

You can check for language issues manually by combing through each of your job descriptions, or you can lean on tools like Textio or Grammarly.

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2. Broaden your network.

There’s a common assumption that hiring is simply a matter of publishing a job listing and either waiting for candidates to come to you or relying on referrals. And from that assumption comes the frequently heard misconception that there are no qualified diverse candidates applying.

To effectively reach top diverse candidates, you have to do outreach.

Start by advertising on job boards and websites that cater specifically to underrepresented identities. This shows you’re making an effort to reach out to diverse candidate pools, and you may reach people who aren’t necessarily scrolling through LinkedIn or Indeed.

Another great option is to partner with universities as a pipeline to internships, workshares, apprenticeships, and career placement opportunities. To get started, look into connecting with historically Black colleges and universities or reaching out to student-led minority organizations at your local colleges.

Also, there are likely dozens of meetups and events in your area hosted by minority groups. Take the time to network and socialize with them, even if you’re not currently hiring. Building goodwill throughout your community will only help you attract talent, so be sure to attend, support, or even sponsor these events. Next time there’s someone in those groups looking for a new opportunity, your company is sure to get a glowing review!

3. Educate your hiring managers and interviewers.

To build a diverse candidate pipeline, you have to get buy-in at every stage of the hiring process. While HR employees can screen candidates and source a wide candidate pool, that effort can quickly be undone by the unconscious biases of hiring managers and interviewers later in the hiring process.

Acknowledging that people have biases is a great first step in educating your staff. Consider having companywide unconscious bias trainings, with supplemental resources for employees directly involved with the hiring process.

Along with these trainings, make sure to set diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) metrics. This gives employees a concrete goal to strive toward—for example, a potential metric could be similar to the Rooney Rule, which requires “at least one woman and one underrepresented minority [to] be considered in the slate of candidates for every open position.” Of course, this “rule” can be adjusted for the needs of your organization and can serve as a benchmark going forward.

Specific, measurable goals and tactics take the ambiguity out of your DEI efforts, and you’ll be able to analyze the success of your initiatives.

"There are likely many individuals at your organization who are passionate about building a diverse and inclusive workplace."

4. Establish a dedicated Employee Resource Group (ERG) or DEI Committee.

You don’t have to go it alone! For example, one of the most rewarding parts of working at Bonusly is collaborating with our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group. Similarly, there are likely many individuals at your organization who are passionate about building a diverse and inclusive workplace. Put out feelers for feedback on your hiring plans, and employees will likely offer great referrals to candidates, groups, and job boards. Invite these employees to organize a group or committee, and assure them that HR and leadership will welcome their voices.

Diversity Is Worth the Effort

Making your workplace more diverse takes thoughtful outreach, education, and lots of communication with your team. And don’t stop there—there are always more ways to make your organization more inclusive and equitable. Exploring these options will only strengthen your hiring process, your talent pool, and your company culture. In turn, that can help you foster a more welcoming, innovative, and successful company.


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About the Author

Connie Du is on the marketing team at Bonusly and is dedicated to making workdays more inclusive and fun for everyone. She loves writing, her cats, and a well-placed emoji.