A diverse workforce is essential for any organization's sustainability, growth, and success. Everyone brings their strengths, perspectives, and ideas to the workplace. If an organization is to succeed in any sector, having the benefit of talent from all backgrounds, irrespective of gender, race, age, or socio-economic background, is essential.
This article delves deeper into how as an employer, you can get talent into your hiring strategies. We look at why diversity matters and how you can encourage a greater diversity of applicants to your vacancies. We also consider ways to ensure your recruitment and selection process is objective and enables the right talent to be recruited into your organization.
Why talent diversity matters
A diverse workforce brings many benefits. For the organization itself, having employees who bring their unique talents, skills and perspectives enable the organization to be innovative in their ideas, challenge perceptions and thrive in a competitive business environment.
For employees, working with people from diverse backgrounds brings a sense of interest to a role and greater productivity. Working with those that have different ideas and challenge you in your role enables individuals to grow and develop themselves.
Without talent diversity, organizations can remain stagnant, set in their ways, and unable to gain competitive advantage. In short, recruiting from a diverse talent pool and ensuring diversity in your talent pipeline is essential to keep up in the quickly evolving business world.
Why should you have a hiring strategy for talent diversity?
With a hiring strategy for talent diversity, your organization can enjoy the benefits that a diverse workforce brings.
Having the right hiring strategy in place ensures the attraction and selection of the best candidates for a role, but this strategy must appeal to a wide range of talent.
There are many factors to consider when designing a hiring strategy. Steps need to be considered when planning the marketing and attraction of candidates. Once you have your applicant pool, appropriate measures need to be taken to eliminate unconscious or conscious bias at each stage of the recruitment and selection process.
Making your hiring strategy objective and data-driven, thus eliminating bias means that the whole organization can capitalize on the benefits of a diverse workforce.
How to increase talent diversity
Increasing talent diversity in your organization is a process that is and should continually evolve. Reviewing where your organization is at when it comes to diversity, and understanding your starting point gives you a good base from which to increase your talent diversity.
Outlined below are steps you can take to encourage and retain a diverse workforce in your organization.
Make a commitment to diversity
It is important to remember that increasing talent diversity is not about becoming a more diverse workforce just for the sake of it. Each person brings unique skills and experience irrespective of background, race, religion, age, or gender. Ensuring this is reflected in your organization starts with your commitment to diversity.
Increasing talent diversity is about recognizing the benefits that a diverse workforce can bring, opening up a wider talent pool to recruit from, and fostering a workplace culture that brings about a greater sense of employee satisfaction and well-being.
As an employer, you can create policies and guidelines that ensure diversity is considered during each stage of the hiring process.
Creating a diversity and inclusion policy that states your commitment to ensuring that, as an employer, you create an inclusive and safe environment and do not discriminate against anyone based on any aspect of their age, gender, race, religion, characteristics, or socioeconomic background.
Organizations such as PwC and the Red Cross share their commitment to diversity on their website, as do many other organizations. While these are more prominent organizations, having a clear commitment to diversity and making this known shows that, as an organization, you value diversity.
Ensure these statements run through your recruitment policies and that hiring managers clearly understand what this means for them when recruiting. Ensuring that the guidelines are adhered to in each stage of your hiring process further demonstrates your commitment to potential applicants, widening your pool of potential applicants and encouraging successful applications.
Highlight your commitment to diversity in your job ads
Stating your commitment to diversity through policy and guidelines will help show your commitment to diversity. Still, this commitment must be incorporated into each stage of your hiring process, starting with your recruitment strategies.
Reviewing how you market your vacancies and whether these meet the commitments that you have made to recruiting a diverse workforce is essential if you are to increase your diversity.
Look at each of your job adverts, and consider their images and language.
Images that portray a diverse workforce can have an immediate impact on potential applicants. People will be attracted to a workplace they can see themselves working in and being a part of rather than one that isn’t reflective of today’s society.
Being mindful of diversity when crafting your job adverts can significantly impact the talent pool they appeal to. Use language that is not discriminatory, for example, steering clear of more masculine descriptors. Make your words count and use inclusive and appealing language to a large target audience.
Diversify your recruitment sources
When it comes to talent sourcing, there is often the temptation to stick with what you know. In doing so, you run the risk of missing out on a new applicant pool that can bring greater talent and diversity to your organization.
Research the various options available. Review how you source and attract candidates. This could include attending demographic-specific job fairs that target a specific minority group.
The world has become more digital, and while print advertising still has a place in an organization's hiring strategy, using digital methods such as social media platforms can open up a new audience to your organization. Identifying the right social media platforms that enable you to target specific audiences can add to how you publicize your vacancies and promote your organization.
Diversity in talent is essential to all organizations, and many specialists provide practical guidance on ways to reach new and diverse audiences. Partnering with these organizations, whether through attending job fairs, providing mentorship opportunities to underrepresented groups, or engaging in direct conversations with potential applicants, are all ways to open up a wider talent pool.
Use aptitude tests
When hiring candidates for a role, as a recruiter, you want to hire the best candidates based on their skills and abilities. As many hiring processes are multi-stage, each stage of the recruitment process opens up the opportunity to form biased opinions. These opinions can be based on a candidate’s location, gender, age, or the educational institution they attended rather than on what matters: their ability to do the role.
To overcome this challenge, consider using a method of eliminating bias in the early stages of the hiring process, such as an aptitude test.
Aptitude tests provide employers with a method to evaluate individuals based on the abilities needed for the role. Assessing individuals on their skills and aptitudes alone ensures that the recruitment decisions you make are based on objective data.
Aptitude tests such as those assessing numerical or logical reasoning can be used for roles where these abilities are required. If the position involves mechanics or handling machinery, mechanical or spatial reasoning tests can be used.
Taking the human evaluation element out of the early stages of the process eliminates bias. It ensures the shortlisting of candidates is fair, transparent, and focused on the criteria needed for success in a role.
Address unconscious bias
While many employers and hiring managers are aware of conscious bias and take appropriate steps to mitigate this, the element of unconscious bias may also exist when recruiting.
Unconscious bias refers to the way individuals feel or think about those around them and the perceptions they form based on this. For example, if a hiring manager is interviewing an applicant they believe to be “like them”, they may treat the interviewee more favorably than if they were interviewing someone they perceive to be less relatable.
Unconscious bias can be formed due to someone's gender or age but also around the university they attended or where they live.
As an employer, it is crucial to educate your hiring managers on unconscious bias, so they are aware of this and can challenge themselves to overcome it. Being aware of how they subconsciously perceive someone ensures that hiring managers don't eliminate candidates based on their own perceptions.
If all hiring managers are clear on what to do should they feel unconscious bias setting in, they can recruit diverse talent against the criteria for a role while upholding the organization's commitment to diversity.
Use blind screening methods
Bias, conscious or subconscious, can happen at any stage of the recruitment process. When faced with a large volume of applicants, it is easy to select applicants based on the background of those you know to be successful in the organization rather than the applicant's skill set. In doing so, you may eliminate applicants with the skills needed for the role and thus reduce the diversity of your talent pool at a vital stage of the hiring process.
If, upon review of your hiring strategy, you identify that you have a broad and diverse applicant pool that decreases substantially after initial screening, consider ways to mitigate this, such as blind screening.
Blind screening refers to removing an individual's personal details on an application form. This includes their name along with personal information such as date of birth, address, school, and university they studied. Removing these details enables those screening the application form to focus solely on the applicant's skills, abilities, and experience rather than their background.
By anonymizing an application form, you eliminate any conscious or unconscious bias attached to the applicant's personal history, whether related to their age, race, religion, socioeconomic background, or gender.
Diversity in your workforce is essential for the success of any organization. Having a workforce that is representative of society brings with it individuals who have different perspectives, can challenge the views of others, and encourage innovation and growth.
To ensure you get diversity into your hiring strategies, there are many steps you can take. These include understanding where you are when it comes to diversity in your organization.
Committing to diversity and ensuring that your marketing, sourcing and recruitment reflect this enables you to reach diverse talent that can contribute to the growth of your organization.
Using methods such as aptitude tests and blind resumes, and educating hiring managers on the concept of unconscious bias provides the foundations for a fair, robust yet transparent hiring process. This protects your organization's future growth and development.