Sending the Right Message to the Right Audience: Key Strategies for Ramping Up Diversity Hiring in 2021

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Diverse Team Cheering

With the events of this year prompting many Americans to reflect on what is important to them and what their values are, it is fitting that people are bringing their beliefs and priorities into their job searches. Organizations’ diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives have taken on increased importance in recent months, with 33 percent of recruiters reporting that job seekers today are inquiring about these initiatives more than they did last year, according to Jobvite’s 2020 Recruiter Nation Survey.

Companies are responding by embracing job seekers’ concerns and placing a greater emphasis on their D&I strategies. The Recruiter Nation Survey also found that D&I strategies are a top recruiting priority for today’s organizations.

Why Foster D&I Within a Company?

Diversity can improve a company’s bottom line by broadening the company’s stock of ideas and skills, and it can improve employee retention by promoting a healthy, supportive work environment where everyone feels safe, accepted, and empowered. Inclusion leads to higher employee satisfaction, which drives engagement and productivity.

Of course, building a diverse workforce first depends on the successful recruitment of diverse talent. By developing targeted strategies, programs, and campaigns, recruiting teams can attract more diverse talent pools and prevent quality candidates from going unnoticed or falling off during the recruitment process.

Targeting the Right Audience and Sending the Right Message

Unfortunately, even when recruiters are actively targeting more diverse candidate pools, microaggressions and unconscious bias can stand in the way of their efforts. Recruiters can take steps to overcome these obstacles by utilizing target audience planning.

Target audience planning is the practice of identifying roles, locations, and company needs thoroughly before starting the hiring process. Key audiences could include:

  1. Key Talent Audiences: Candidates who match roles that require specific certifications, education, or levels of expertise. Previous job experiences and skill sets will help identify this talent audience.
  2. Relationship Audiences: Individuals who have been recommended through referrals, current or former employees, or past applicants.
  3. Strategic Audiences: Unique groups that would be notable assets to an organization, such as recent graduates or veterans.

In the context of D&I, target audience planning can help recruiters understand where underrepresented candidates can be reached and how to engage them. However, targeting the right audiences is only the first step. Candidates must also know that your company truly and authentically values D&I.

Including a statement about diversity in your list of company values is not enough. D&I must be integrated into the day-to-day operations of your organization if you are to foster a diverse and inclusive culture. Crafting policies that support the needs of diverse candidates, such as allowing flexible work hours to accommodate a variety of religious holidays, can be one way to help all employees feel accepted and valued on a daily basis.

Additionally, it’s important for organizations to articulate and communicate strong employer brands that align with inclusive values. Recruiters can then promote this brand when connecting with potential candidates, making it easier to appeal to job seekers of all ages, races, ethnicities, genders, identities, sexual orientations, locations, and abilities. In order to build an inclusive employer brand, recruiters can launch social and email campaigns directed at target audiences, or publish blog and video content expressing inclusive values.

While publicly showcasing an inclusive employer brand is important, building a diverse team requires internal efforts as well. Companies can hold diversity trainings to help employees learn about and combat unconscious bias and microaggressions. Organizations can also partner with community and professional groups that are working to create and maintain workplace diversity.

How Employers Can Reduce Bias During Candidate Evaluation

While the challenges faced by D&I efforts cannot be solved by technology alone, the right tools can make it easier to address conscious and unconscious bias in the recruiting process. For example, recruiters can use tech tools to de-identify resumes and chat transcriptions, which ensures talent is evaluated on their skills and experiences rather than irrelevant personal attributes. Creating long-term change also requires that organizations measure the progress of their D&I recruitment initiatives and work to continuously improve their practices. Technology can help recruiting teams track these key metrics more easily.

Recruiters should also be sure to personalize their content and messaging for specific audiences. Digital and social ads, texts, emails, and print ads can all be utilized to connect with high-quality candidates, provided the content of those adds resonates with target talent.

According to the 2020 Recruiter Nation Survey, many organizations now have specific goals for diversity in hiring with respect to race/ethnicity (63 percent), gender (54 percent), age (37 percent), veterans (33 percent), LGBTQ+ (29 percent), immigrants (28 percent), and disability (25 percent). Organizations are being held to higher standards for how they source, recruit, hire, and employ, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

By setting clear goals and prioritizing diversity in recruiting, organizations can showcase their values while actively creating strategies to prevent bias in every step of the recruiting process.

Amy Hughes is senior director of customer enablement at Jobvite.

By Amy Hughes