10 Diversity Recruiting Strategies That Support Inclusive Hiring

As an HR professional, you’re no stranger to the complexity surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. The why behind diversity recruiting is clear (improved employee engagement, unique perspectives, better customer insights—just to name a few benefits of diverse workforces and leadership), but the how can be more difficult to navigate.

It’s easy to assume that a lack of overt discrimination is all that’s needed to create a culture of belonging, but that’s not the case. It takes conscious, consistent effort, or you risk not only losing out on top candidates that could bring unique skills and perspectives to your organization, but negatively impacting your current team’s ability to flourish.

In this article, we’ll explore proactive strategies you can use to attract a wider range of candidates, make your company more welcoming to all kinds of people, reap the benefits of a diverse workforce, and incorporate diversity recruiting into your hiring practices from start to finish with an applicant tracking system.

What Is Diversity Recruiting and Why Does It Matter?

Diversity recruiting is a strategic approach to hiring aimed toward making your organization’s recruitment practices more welcoming, bias-free, and equitable to people of all backgrounds.

A common misconception about diversity recruiting is that the goal is to hire someone because they’re a certain gender, race, or other attribute. In actuality, diversity recruiting is still very much merit-based. When successfully implementing diversity recruiting, you’re breaking down barriers to entry for specific groups of people and reframing diverse points of view as a merit to be valued.

Everyone deserves equal opportunities for success and advancement, but unconscious bias and discrimination still remain a reality for certain groups in the workplace, and it’s holding companies back too. Valuing diversity at work is more than the right thing to do—it’s smart business.

According to the 2020 McKinsey & Company report “Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters,” cultivating diverse teams is a strategic imperative that helps companies achieve the following results:

In a recent BambooHR survey, we also found that 45% of Gen Z job seekers will look at workforce diversity as a deciding factor on whether or not they’d work for an employer—so even the success of your overall recruitment efforts depends on your commitment to DEI.

In other words, diversity is good for your employees, your customers, and your bottom line. Let’s have a look at some strategies you can use to recruit a more diverse workforce.

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10 Strategies to Improve Diversity Recruiting

1. Look for Opportunities to Reduce Unconscious Bias

Unconscious biases come in all shapes and sizes, and the best way to overcome them is to recognize how they manifest and take precautions. Set your hiring team—and potential candidates—up for success by building anti-bias techniques directly into your hiring processes.

2. Ensure Diversity on Your Shortlisting and Interview Panels

As mentioned above, unconscious bias is very real. With the best intentions in the world, a homogenous shortlisting team or interview panel will struggle to effectively recruit a diverse workforce. In addition, if a candidate arrives for an interview and doesn’t see anyone like them, they might feel alienated or uncomfortable and decide that your company isn’t for them.

3. Use Hiring Software to Automate the Process

Your diversity recruiting efforts can begin with all the best intentions, but if your overall hiring process doesn’t include easy-to-use hiring softway, growing and supporting a diverse workforce will be harder than it needs to be.

BambooHR not only automates the repetitive hiring tasks that seem to take up most of your time, the Applicant Tracking System also helps you:

…and more!

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BambooHR helps you manage and personalize every candidate's experience. Plus, our Hiring Mobile App helps busy recruiting teams collaborate together and keep top candidates engaged.

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4. Revise Your Job Descriptions

You’ll expand your talent pool by affirming your commitment to diversity in the language you use in your job ads. Is your language representative of the diverse talent pool you hope to attract? If you really study your ads, you might be surprised at the ways in which you’re unconsciously signaling to candidates that your company is not for them.

Here are some things to be aware of when you craft and audit your job ads:

Corroborating our own research, Glassdoor found that 76% of all job seekers and employees consider diversity an important factor when considering employers and job offers. Your job ad should also explicitly state that you value diversity and inclusion, with examples of how you put those values into action.

5. Celebrate Diversity as Part of Your Employer Branding

Do your social media channels, recruitment videos, advertising materials, and other external communications feature a diverse range of people? If not, you could be inadvertently discouraging underrepresented candidates from applying.

Representation often precedes imagination. It’s easier to imagine yourself belonging to a role or with a company when you see people like you already thriving in those positions. However, if your current workforce largely looks, acts, and believes the same way, opportunities for authentically showcasing existing diversity at your company will be few and far between. Realistically, this step may need to come later for you as it’s absolutely essential your diversity recruiting efforts do not come off as performative.

As your other strategies successfully broaden your talent pools and you welcome more and more fresh faces, perspectives, and backgrounds into your company, seek out ways to platform these new voices on your employer branding channels.

6. Create and Advertise More Flexible Company Policies

Are your company policies based, even inadvertently, around certain assumptions about what your employees’ lives look like?

Statistically, in heterosexual couples, the majority of childcare still falls to women, and during the pandemic women shouldered even more caretaking responsibilities. If your company has overly rigid attendance policies or doesn’t allow some flexibility (whether through hybrid work or flexible time off policies), it will disproportionately affect women, which in turn can impact your ability to hire or retain women.

Similarly, allowing everyone to take time off at Christmas is great for those who are Christian or celebrate the holiday for cultural reasons. But do you also offer flexibility to your Muslim, Jewish, or Hindu employees to take time off on their religiously significant dates? If not, consider revising those policies. At BambooHR, we provide floating holidays so our team can always have the option to observe religious or cultural holidays that may not be federally recognized.

Whenever you implement or revise a policy, ensure that a diverse range of people get to have input on it. People from different groups and with different experiences might pick up on a problem you missed. Once you’re confident that your policies are inclusive, spotlight them when you advertise open positions.

Why should diverse candidates want to work at your company? Because you care about treating them equally and equitably, and your policies prove it.

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7. Proactively Offer Accommodations

This point tends to be most relevant to candidates with disabilities, but can also apply in other cases. A candidate from an underrepresented group is more likely to apply for a job at your company if you show that you’re making a proactive effort to be inclusive and accessible. An easy way to do this is to ask if they require any adjustments to make the interview process accessible.

Examples might include ramp access to your building for a wheelchair user, a sign language interpreter for a Deaf candidate, or an accessible parking space close to the building.

Important: Ask whether a candidate requires any specific or additional access when you’re inviting them to an interview, not on the initial application form. Asking before you create your shortlist risks actual or perceived unconscious bias in the selection process.

8. Use Jobs Boards to Source Underrepresented Candidates

Don’t limit yourself to posting your job ads only on LinkedIn and other mainstream jobs boards. Did you know that there are also jobs websites aimed specifically at candidates from underrepresented groups?

Here are a few to consider:

9. Offer Internships for Underrepresented Young People

Many young people and new college graduates get access to internships as a result of connections, either through family or their school. Unfortunately, since many internships are unpaid or offer very low pay, they tend to disproportionately go to those from privileged backgrounds and socioeconomic groups who can afford to work for little to no pay.

If you want to recruit diverse candidates, consider offering internships or entry-level jobs to underrepresented young people who have just graduated or are in their final year of college. And when you ensure these positions pay a living wage, you’ll be opening doors which talented young people may not otherwise have been able to access.

Not sure how to get started? Reach out to local colleges, universities, or community groups and ask for their input. They may be willing to partner with you on setting up a program, or they may have their own programs in place that you can join.

10. Practice Fair Chance Hiring

Fair chance hiring is a hiring practice built around protecting formerly incarcerated and justice-impacted individuals from discrimination. As of December 17, 2019, the Fair Chance Act prohibits most employers in the U.S., from asking candidates about past convictions until a conditional offer has been made, but the broader idea of fair chance hiring goes beyond that.

By focusing on each candidate’s individual potential, you can not only widen your pipeline to include talented, loyal people, but you’ll also be offering a second chance to a broad and promising demographic, and bolstering your community in the process.

Next Steps: Improve Your Business by Focusing on Diversity

From employee engagement to customer satisfaction and revenue, diversity benefits your organization at every level. We encourage you to take steps in each of the above strategies before you advertise your next position. As you do, you’ll find that when you open doors for others, even more will open for you and your business.

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