Building a diverse workforce isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s the smart thing to do, from a business perspective.
Higher revenue, better employee performance, a more trusted employer brand, and an increased customer base are just a few of the benefits of a diverse workforce. Plus, 67 percent of job seekers say diverse workforces are important factors in their employment decisions.
That said, companies have long struggled to build diverse workforces. Though women make up more than half of the workforce, only 14.2 percent of the leaders of S&P 500 companies are women, and there are only four Black CEOs in the Fortune 500.
The sad state of diversity hiring is not for lack of trying. Perhaps it is the strategies themselves that need a little diversification. If companies want to attract the best talent and reap the benefits of diverse workforces, they should integrate some (or all) of these five tactics into their recruiting efforts:
1. Up the Ante on Diversity Branding
As diversity gains a higher profile, everyone’s actions — especially employers — are being put under the microscope. For this reason, companies would be wise to integrate diversity into their employer brands. Some ways to do this include:
- Showcase diversity-related content on the company careers page by including things like a diversity mission statement, images of your diverse teams, and information about any awards the company has received for its diversity hiring initiatives.
- Use social media to spread the word about your diversity hiring efforts. Share pictures from events, reflections from new hires, and anything else that illustrates the company’s active measures to build a more diverse workforce.
- Update company materials to reflect a diverse workforce. This could include workforce demographic statistics and information about employee resource groups.
Diversity has to be genuinely woven throughout the entire company. Otherwise, diversity hiring efforts could be interpreted as shallow and insincere.
If your company does not yet have a diverse workforce, building an image of your organization as a diverse brand can be tough. A great way to start is to emphasize how your brand values, builds, and gives back to the community. It should be made apparent that the company culture is open to and actively seeking new perspectives and ideas.
2. Use the Right Keywords to Source Diverse Candidates
Recent research has found that many job titles and job descriptions are crafted with masculine terms that can drive away female candidates. For example, “determined” can be perceived as a masculine word, and for this reason women candidates may not be as receptive to it as they would be to the more femininely coded “dedicated.” Moreover, the same research found that using more femininely coded language in job ads had virtually no affect on men’s decision to apply while encourage more women to apply — a total win-win.
As a top source of talent for all kinds, LinkedIn can be a great way to recruit diverse candidates as well — but again, it matters what keywords you use. LinkedIn offers some tips for diversity sourcing on its own website, including using relevant keywords in your searches. For example, if you want to attract female candidates, you could add the names of professional women’s organizations to your keyword searches, like “American Business Women’s Association.”
3. Build a Culture of Diversity
Even the best diversity hiring efforts will come to nothing if the company culture does not invite and support diversity. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the technology industry.
In a recent survey of 716 women who left the tech industry, respondents made it clear that cultural factors — such as the lack of maternity leave policies, flexible work issues, and insufficient pay to cover childcare costs — were their main reasons for leaving. Close to 27 percent of respondents cited discrimination related to their gender, race, ethnicity, or sexuality as a reason why they left the industry, and 87 percent of the women said they had no intention of ever returning to tech.
To help nurture a workplace culture that is receptive to diversity, try the following:
- Invest in diversity training that teaches employees how to embrace diversity and work with people from all backgrounds.
- Explore tools and techniques to combat unconscious bias. One example is Blendoor, a “merit-based matching” system that combats unconscious bias by hiding candidate data that is irrelevant to the job at hand.
- Get leaders on board to reinforce the value of diversity. When CEOs clearly express the value of diversity, employees will get the message that this is a nonnegotiable component of company success and a thriving culture.
4. Collaborate with Colleges
Companies can partner with schools that have diverse student populations to establish solid talent pools for diversity recruiting initiatives. The National Association of Colleges and Employers provides useful diversity resources, including student body statistics and lists of student groups, that employers can use to gather information on potential partners.
5. Explore Emerging Recruiting Methods
Recruitment methods are evolving all the time, and many new solutions are created specifically with diversity recruiting in mind.
One particularly powerful trend is blind hiring, in which recruiters assess candidates based only on relevant information, with little or no access to candidate demographic data. What’s beneficial about anonymizing recruiting and interviewing methods is that it diminishes the chances of bias taking over. With little information about a candidate’s background, recruiters and employers have to assess their choices based purely on performance.
Cloud hosting company Bytemark recently tried a completely anonymous recruiting process — and the team “loved it.” Similarly, GapJumpers is a new type of job board that facilitates blind hiring. Applicants complete projects anonymously, and the results of the projects are used to match employers to candidates based on skills, rather than biases.
A version of this article originally appeared on the ClearCompany blog.
Sara Pollock is head of the marketing department at ClearCompany.