10 Mistakes You're Making With Your Diversity Recruitment Strategy (And How to Fix Them)
Imagine who attended your last online work meeting. Based on that team, is your organization’s diversity recruitment strategy working? Or is it unclear?
Most talent acquisition teams will admit that diversity recruitment isn’t easy, and that there’s no “simple” fix to growing teams that align with your company’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) goals. That’s why your diversity recruitment strategy, if it’s a solid one, will be multi-pronged, reflecting both your organization’s overall DEI vision as well its staffing health.
So, how can you improve upon your diversity recruitment strategy? Start by avoiding these 10 common mistakes and implementing the following key DEI recruiting best practices instead.
What is a diversity recruitment strategy?
A diversity recruitment strategy is a set of policies, actions, goals, and measures used to attract, evaluate, and hire diverse talent. It is the first step in an organization’s overall DEI strategy.
As a practice, DEI recruiting actively seeks to hire people from a variety of different:
- intellectual and physical capabilities,
- socio-economic classes,
- and nationalities.
First, we mitigate biases and other barriers that lead our organizations to recruit and hire the same kind of people (those with privilege and power in society) over and over again. Once a diversity of talent is in the door at all levels of the organization, inclusion and belonging in the workplace play a big part in our ability to retain that diversity on teams.
What does the research say about DEI recruiting?
As a concept, diversity recruitment aims for an organization’s workforce to mirror their customer base and market. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because research says it's also good for business.
Diverse teams are smarter, more innovative, and make more money.
- Diverse leadership teams are more likely to develop product innovations than peers.
- Gender diverse leadership teams are 21% more likely to have above-average profits.
- Overall diversity has a positive correlation with financial performance.
81% of talent acquisition experts have a diversity recruitment strategy. They know they need it. They also know that employees want companies that prioritize diversity. 83% of employees agree that employee diversity is important. So where do things go wrong?
10 diversity recruitment mistakes you might be making:
Mistake 1: The talent acquisition team is all white.
Let’s address the elephant in the DEI recruiting room: homogenous TA teams. Recruitment experts say that people tend to recruit their own likeness. Whether subconsciously or not, white cisgender people tend to hire white cisgender people.
Solution: Diversity starts within. Hire diverse talent for your acquisition team. For an immediate fix, appoint diverse hiring panels to review final candidates.
Mistake 2: You don’t know where to post jobs to get diverse candidates.
Looking for diverse talent in all the wrong places? Poor DEI recruitment strategies use homogeneous networks to look for diverse talent and wonder why they don’t get different results. For recruiting diverse candidates — or, more accurately, a diversity of candidates — look in new places.
Solution: Online job boards have plenty of resources. Search LinkedIn for alumni groups of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and professional diversity phrases like “Latinx engineers,” “women who code,” “LGBT professionals.” Join these groups! Put your face out there by posting regularly. Even better, post on job boards that specialize in DEIB such as PowerToFly, LatPro, Jobboard LGBT, or Ability Jobs.
Mistake 3: You have no relationships with diverse community organizations.
Recruiters don’t know where to find diverse candidates simply because they have no connections to diverse communities. It’s tough to break into new networks, but building relationships is a marathon, not a sprint.
Solution: Reach out to a local community organization like a church, resource center, school, sports league, or small business. Ask how you can give money (donations) or time (volunteer work). Whether it’s a booth at the next fair or starting a youth tutoring program, let the community inform how you bring value. A successful payoff may be generations of goodwill and mutual benefit.
Mistake 4: You're using biased job descriptions.
Job descriptions either attract or repel certain demographics of people. Research shows that certain words carry heavy bias. For example, words like “fast-paced” and “decisive” carry a male gender bias, while “loyal” and “trust” are female gender biased words.
Solution: Dig into the best practices for writing inclusive job descriptions. Eliminate biased language from the outset.
Mistake 5: You have a biased screening process.
Recruiters love to see certain things on a resume. Harvard University? For some, that’s an automatic advancement, regardless of experience. Photos, place names, and dates are all ways personal bias creeps into the screening process.
Solution: Utilize “blind resumes” that black out specific information such as proper names, dates and photos. AI software does this, but two recruiters working together can achieve the same effect without being high-tech.
Mistake 6: Your interviews are biased, too.
The traditional interview process is rife with bias. Eye contact? Speech patterns? Handshakes? There are numerous ways we judge candidates subconsciously during interviews that have nothing to do with the job.
Solution: Educate your interviewers on neurodiversity and common microaggressions towards marginalized groups. Avoid bias and unnecessary commentary and focus on the job requirements.
Mistake 7: You're guilty of tokenism.
Tokenism is the “practice of doing something (such as hiring a person who belongs to a minority group) only to prevent criticism and give the appearance that people are being treated fairly.” In recruitment, tokenism can look like one person from a marginalized demographic in the final pool of candidates. Unfortunately, studies show token candidates are never chosen.
Solution: Push to have multiple candidates from various demographics in the every finalist pool. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, was once asked how many women should be on the court. “When will there be enough women on the court? My answer is when there are nine.” For an all-male court in all nine positions for 191 years, two token women is progress but not parity. Look at your organization in these terms.
Mistake 8: There's a lack of diversity in your recruiting material.
A successful diversity recruitment strategy leans heavily on the content used to recruit. If websites, videos, and social media don’t contain images and evidence of the folks you’re looking for, it will put diverse candidates off.
Solution: Include diversity in your branding across all your platforms. Think of the groups you’re looking for and make sure they are reflected.
Mistake 9: You have a poor candidate experience.
A poor candidate experience can leave DEI recruiting strategies dead in the water. Candidate experience is all stages of a hiring process: branding, job descriptions, applications, interviews, and finally rejection or onboarding. Searching for where to recruit diverse candidates means nothing if candidates don’t accept offers.
Solution: Improve your candidate experience. Ensure candidates feel welcome from start to finish. Remember: bad news travels far and fast.
Mistake 10: You've let your DEI initiatives get dusty.
It's the fourth quarter and you haven’t mentioned your organizational DEI strategy all year. Figuring out how to recruit diverse candidates depends on a number of holistic factors, but awareness is the bare minimum.
Solution: Educate your staff about where you are and where you’d like to be. Transparency allows current staff to provide valuable input. Share your robust employee retention strategies. Provide resources such as mentorship programs and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) so tha everyone is on board.
Recruit diverse candidates by building relationships.
Your diversity recruitment strategy is ultimately an investment in the overall health of the company. It builds sustainability and profitability into the fabric of your daily activity. It makes your organization a place where your employees can thrive long-term. The ultimate question of how to recruit diverse candidates depends on the strength and depth of the internal and external relationships you’ve built as an organization with a variety of people.