Take a moment to think of a successful sports team. In football, you need a variety of different skilled positions working in unison to function effectively. In basketball, having a healthy mix of shooters, passers, post players, and defensive specialists is a recipe for a team that’s tough to beat. Successful sports teams are analogous to successful work teams: It takes a diverse group of employees to accomplish challenging goals. Diverse teams tackle issues from multiple perspectives, shrink potential blind spots and, among other things, bring with them a wide variety of lived experiences that only serve to enrich the perspectives of those around them while positively adding to company culture.
But increased representation is only part of the solution. Working to create and implement inclusive hiring practices, policies, and environments serve as incubators for increased efficiency, productivity, job satisfaction, retention, and feelings of belonging among employees.
And, while the internal benefits of creating a more diverse workforce cannot be overstated, it’s equally important to understand that, in order to serve an ever-changing consumer landscape, companies must be willing to and able to listen to and act on the offered perspectives of their diverse workforce in order to create products and services that have mass appeal for diverse audiences.
Before any of this can happen, however, companies will need to make the steadfast commitment to intentionally recruit and hire with DEI as a focal point. It’s important to note that there’s no prescribed checklist or specific roadmap to follow when working to build inclusion within the recruiting and hiring process, but there are a number of different considerations companies and hiring managers will need to contemplate as they work through the needs for their companies. In this article, we will explore some of these considerations and provide a few helpful tips on how to navigate these new and exciting waters.
What is inclusive hiring and DEI recruiting?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are terms that are often used together and, unfortunately, used interchangeably. To be clear, these terms mean very different things. The Oxford dictionary offers up the following definitions:
- Diversity: the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.
- Equity: the quality of being fair and impartial.
- Inclusion: the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure.
For the longest time, we based the success of diversity initiatives on sheer numbers. “That company has XX% people of color and women, which means they’re doing well.” Today, we understand that the issue is a bit too complex for tally marks alone to tell the whole story. Diversity, equity, inclusion is cultivating an environment that is not only demographically representative of the greater population, but also encourages, empowers, and uplifts the voices of employees who have been historically under-represented, under-valued and, quite frankly, silenced. A commitment to living out these ideals should not only be reflected in a company’s mission, vision, and values, but should be genuinely felt across the company.
So, when it comes to recruiting with diversity and inclusion in mind, there are a number of considerations companies will need to ponder:
- Company profile
- Recruitment strategies
- Application and resume screening processes
How do you diversify hiring practices?
You may need to ask: what are the perceptions of your company and does it align with what you’d like those perceptions to be? Have you conducted climate surveys to better understand how your employees experience your company? Have you conducted climate surveys to delve more deeply into how consumers perceive your company, products, or services? Have you conducted exit interviews with departing employees? If so, what kind of feedback are you hearing in general in terms of DEI work? What have you done with that feedback? What work has your company done or plans to do in the community to establish/maintain/build trust among under-represented populations? These are just a few questions to consider as you work to fine tune your profile.
Are your career opportunities reaching target audiences? Have you partnered closely with college affinity groups? Have you reached out to colleges and universities with a reputation for having diverse and inclusive campus communities? Has your company gotten inf front of them? Have you sent representatives to recruit from target colleges? What is your social media presence and how are you getting in front of diverse candidate populations? This is an area where getting creative will pay off in terms of applicant turnout and diversity.
Application and Resume Screening
We know that historically under-represented candidates are bringing a ton of transferable skills from their personal lives into their work environment. Balancing budgets. Project management. Problem solving. Conflict management. Resource-linking, etc. The question, then, is how are you actively looking for ways to invite in those perspectives? To highlight those skills? Has the application or resume been supplemented with a cover letter or personal statements? Are you providing prompts on your applications that can coax out these skills? How are you controlling for bias in your resume review process? What active steps are you putting in to ensure that qualified talent from historically under-represented is not being excluded AND what steps are you taking to ensure fair and accurate representation? Shameless plug here but this is truly why Avenica exists. We work to move beyond the resume to dig into the intrinsic talents and abilities of our candidates.
Historically under-represented candidates want to ensure that the environment they’re joining is one that is safe and inclusive. So, remember they’re interviewing you just as much as you’re interviewing them. During the interview process, have you made clear your DEI goals and initiatives? Do your questions suggest a culture of care or a welcoming environment? This is crucial when historically under-represented candidates are trying to feel out what kind of team they could be joining. How prominent is your mission/vision/values? Do have one around DEI? What has it looked like in practice today? How do you want it to look in the future?
How to set and reach your DEI hiring goals
When the rubber meets the road, companies dedicated to promoting DEI will have put action behind intention. Leaders in the company will have fully bought into the importance of promoting a culture that is attractive to historically underrepresented talent and hiring managers will have worked diligently to ensure bias has been removed from their recruitment, screening, and interviewing processes. As stated earlier, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to creating and implementing inclusive practices and environments.
Need help incorporating DEI hiring practices into your company? See how Avenica’s career placement services can help.