You’d be hard-pressed to find a recruiter or company leader who isn’t concerned with diversity these days.
The news is full of high-profile companies failing to diversify their staff. Google, for example, is 70 percent male, and just 2 percent of its tech employees are Hispanic, while 1 percent of them are black.
Yet with multiple studies — including an analysis by MIT researchers — showing that a diverse workforce helps teams perform better, it’s in a business’s best interests to see a wider range of faces at the company picnic.
Ensuring the organization has a diverse workforce is on every leader’s mind, but according to SHRM, 41 percent of managers think they’re too busy to deploy formal diversity initiatives. There is a widespread perception that tapping into a new pool of potential employees requires extensive reworking of the system — potentially more effort than it’s worth.
But is this really the case?
Stop Reinventing the Wheel
Despite lingering misconceptions, some companies are making clear headway in hiring for diversity. Just take a look at Zillow, which has closed its gender gap significantly, boasting 41 percent female employees as of 2016.
Zillow didn’t make sweeping, expansive changes to its hiring practices in order to achieve results. Instead, the recruitment team drilled down to the sources of the company’s diversity problems in order to make corrections. By removing unnecessary job requirements and clearing out masculine language in its job postings, Zillow quickly saw an increase in female applicants.
Of course, the company’s adjustments didn’t stop there. Because unconscious bias can sink diversity initiatives during the interview stage, Zillow developed a standardized set of questions that were asked of all candidates. Likewise, Zillow instituted a policy whereby no candidate could be turned away simply for being “not a good fit.” Hiring managers needed to give clearly defined reasons for why they were turning down a candidate, which encouraged managers to double-check their own biases before making final decisions.
Better Hiring Made Easy
Hiring for diversity is exceedingly important, but it doesn’t have to be hard. You can improve your hiring practices with just a few simple tweaks:
1. Reconsider Credentials
In today’s world, where yesterday’s tech developments will be obsolete by tomorrow, college degrees and past experience aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Furthermore, including these credentials as requirements in a job ad can discourage otherwise high-quality candidates from applying.
With 70 percent of executives worrying about keeping their businesses up to date with changing times, the most valuable candidates will be those who know how to learn quickly, not those who cling to their past experience.
To widen your candidate pool, prioritize soft skills and learning potential instead. For example, American Express Global Business Travel has created a new set of interview questions that focus on how candidates overcome obstacles, rather than on their degrees and previous job titles.
2. When It Comes to Job Postings and Interviews, Check Bias at the Door
Thanks to unconscious bias, employers and recruiters may not be aware they’re impeding diverse candidates from applying to jobs or accepting offers. Look for opportunities to remove your own bias from the equation so that “cultural fit” doesn’t become a hindrance to growth.
Artificial intelligence has made it easier than ever to minimize bias. Start by taking a cue from Zillow and using a text analyzer like Textio to check your job postings for unintentionally masculine phrasing. Once the resumes start coming in, utilize resume-screening technology to keep your criteria consistent across every individual who applies. This will help ensure that the candidates who make it to the in-person interview are truly the strongest.
3. Diversify Training Sources
Once you’ve brought your new hires on board, consider outsourcing training and using outside resources for professional development. Because third-party perspectives tend to be more objective, this approach can eliminate bias in training and help you retain diverse employees with fresh views and voices.
Consider this: A Demand Gen Report survey found that 87 percent of B2B buyers find brands’ content more credible when it contains outside perspectives. The same principle should hold true for new employees in training. There are undoubtedly resources in your area for exactly this kind of help, so start Googling or asking your network if they know of any.
Expanding your talent base doesn’t require a complete overhaul of the system. By specifically targeting and eliminating a few points of bias, you can make great strides toward hiring a diverse team that will help bring your business to the next level.