Recently, most of the diversity talk in the business media has focused on what the New York Times calls “Silicon Valley’s Diversity Problem”. For those who have missed the coverage: tech giants like Google, Twitter, and Apple are reporting dramatically homogenous workforces, largely composed of white and Asian men.
However, if you let the problems in Silicon Valley distract you from your own company’s diversity efforts, you may find yourself struggling to attract top talent. According to a survey from Glassdoor, a full 67 percent of job seekers — both active and passive — say the diversity of a company’s workforce plays an important role in their decision to work for said company.
“We know that values and culture are really important to people when they’re deciding where they work,” says Kim Abreu, associate director of corporate communications at Glassdoor. “People are looking more at diverse workforces as part of the culture in a company.”
In other words: job seekers see company diversity as a sign of the organization’s culture and values. If your company can’t demonstrate a diverse workforce, two-thirds of candidates may pass you by.
Who’s in Charge?
More than half of Glassdoor survey respondents — 57 percent of people — believe their companies should be doing more to increase diversity in the workforce. But just whose job is it to increase company diversity? Glassdoor’s survey found that opinions on the matter were fairly split:
- 45 percent of people said hiring managers are responsible;
- 42 percent said the CEO is responsible;
- 40 percent said HR is responsible;
- and, surprisingly, 23 percent said employees are responsible.
“All of the responses make sense,” Abreu says. “Hiring managers themselves are the folks that people generally think of as the people that make the decisions, but CEOs and HR are the ones who set the tone and decide where to advertise jobs and where to create the pool of talent that hiring managers are choosing from, so it makes sense that those are the top three responses.”
As for why some people put employees on the hook for increasing diversity, Abreu says it makes sense when you consider that employees often act as brand ambassadors.
“Employees are a big part of the employer brand of a company,” she notes.
Notes on Increasing Diversity
If you find your diversity efforts lacking, Abreu suggests you take a look inward to figure out where your company needs to improve. Once you’ve done that, you can move on to the real work: recruiting your target audience.
“[Employers] need to do more than just put up pictures on their career websites of rainbow faces,” Abreu says. “They need to be recruiting in the real world, in places where people feel comfortable, whether that’s in a women in tech group or an LGBT summit.”
Abreu also suggests that employers take advantage of technologies that allow data-driven approaches to targeting specific audiences (e.g., Entelo Diversity).
“If you’re using something like display ad campaigns, not only are you targeting that audience, you’re branding yourself as a company that cares about diversity,” Abreu explains. “That can help you attract not only the diverse audience that you want, but also build a general branding of your company as a place where diversity is important.”
Maybe your company already boasts a diverse workforce — you’re fine, right? No need for reflection on your part!
Not necessarily: you may still have problems attracting candidates, if you aren’t effectively spreading your message. Do people know that your culture values diversity, or is your workplace diversity message so quiet that your own employees — let alone outside job seekers — don’t even know about it?
Leverage Your Employee Ambassadors
Glassdoor found that only 31 percent of employees are aware of their companies’ diversity initiatives.
“If a company is trying very hard to increase diversity in its workforce, and yet its employees don’t know what its doing, [the company is] really losing out on some great ambassadors,” Abreu says. “We know that employees talk to their friends, [and] they write reviews online about their workplace. That’s something they could be using as an advocate — not only to increase diversity in the workforce, but also to let people know what kind of culture and value [the company has].”
If you find that your employees have missed the memo on your diversity initiatives, you need to work on engaging them in the programs that you have in place.
“A lot of the companies that we work with that have great diversity initiatives have internal programs, mentoring and networking programs, as well as their actual recruiting efforts,” Abreu says. “They get their employees involved in those things, and that not only helps them recruit top talent, but it also creates a tighter, more community-based workforce.”