A 2024 guide to inclusive hiring practices

Embedding DEIB into your hiring practices is a moving target — not something you can simply check a box on.

Cartoon image of two people conducting an interview using inclusive hiring practices

Many organizations would like to believe they’ve already nailed inclusive hiring practices. But the work of embedding Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging into your hiring practices is a moving target — not something you can simply check a box on.

Most companies today don’t exclude underrepresented job candidates on purpose. Our team of DEIB strategists and experts have seen firsthand that excluding quality talent often happens due to oversight, a lack of education, or shortfalls within a company’s day-to-day DEIB practices. This applies to both small businesses and multinational enterprises.

As DEIB experts, we’re often in a position to advocate for talent. That’s why our guide goes beyond the hiring side and provides clues for job hunters, too. For instance, can you tell before accepting an offer if an employer uses inclusive hiring practices? Yes – if you know what to look for.

Whether you work in talent acquisition or you are the talent, bookmark this page. Our 2024 guide to inclusive hiring practices is going to be a resource you come back to throughout the year.

What does it mean to have inclusive hiring practices?

In DEIB circles, the discourse around inclusive hiring practices is constant. We talk about it endlessly because it’s evolving all the time.

We’re all aware of the business case for DEIB. We know that companies with inclusive cultures have 22% lower turnover, 39% higher customer satisfaction, get 2.3 times more cash flow per employee, and are 70% more likely to capture new markets. Many executives have moved past the awareness stage of this work. They understand that DEIB isn’t just a nice-to-have — it’s a business imperative.

But did you know that potential job candidates are assessing your company for inclusive hiring practices before they even show up to an interview? Seventy-two percent of job seekers say it’s important to see evidence of the company’s culture in the job listing. Eighty percent of employees say inclusion is important when choosing an employer.

A majority of candidates want to know: Is this a safe working environment? Can I bring my whole self to work? In other words, employees are looking for true belonging. They want inclusive work environments where people of all backgrounds and identities can thrive.

Candidates today are holding out for companies that share their values. Let’s look beyond diversity quotas and talk about what this value sharing actually looks like.

What is inclusive interviewing?

Awareness about inclusion is no longer enough; praxis is the new standard. Employers know that inclusive interviewing, as the first touchpoint between a company and a potential hire, is the most obvious place to start.

Related reading: 20 diversity & inclusion interview questions

Here is a simple and direct inclusive hiring checklist. These are tangible markers that demonstrate to both potential candidates and staffers on the hiring panel that inclusion is front-and-center in the interviewing process.

  1. Transparency - Start with clear, inclusive job descriptions that avoid coded language and irrelevant requirements.
  2. Equity - Talk openly about equitable pay rates and benefits in early interview stages.
  3. Psychological safety - Allow interview candidates and hiring staffers to speak up about questions and concerns without fear of retaliation.

DEIB goes beyond orientation day. As we mentioned before, excluding quality talent happens mainly due to oversight, a lack of education, and blind spots in a company’s day-to-day DEIB practices. An inclusive interview process takes care of the education and oversight issues. Pervasive DEIB requires a longer-term, holistic solution.

How do you ensure an inclusive workforce in 2024?

Clients who come to us for DEIB help often ask, “How can you tell if inclusive hiring practices are working?” There’s a simple answer. If your company’s actual workforce reflects your DEIB goals, you’re doing it right. If your workforce continues to fall short of your inclusion metrics, you are failing.

What are the consequences of failure? To start with, turnover. Thirty-nine percent of employees say they would leave their organization for a more inclusive one. In practice, we hear anecdotes about workplace inclusion in casual conversation all the time. Company reputations are built at the water cooler. If you want to build a positive reputation, here are five realistic inclusive hiring practices to implement before the year is out.

1. Make a statement.

A diversity and inclusion statement is a short piece of written copy that explains your DEIB values. This statement serves an important function both internally and externally. It indicates to employees and the general public what the business stands for and how it intends to serve the community.

This statement publicly sets the baseline parameters for your inclusive hiring practices. Every procedure in your hiring timeline should come from this statement of values. By stating your priorities, a diversity and inclusion statement builds trust and provides staff and community members with your standards of accountability. It’s the perfect starting point to develop more detailed inclusive hiring practices.

2. Focus on talent acquisition vs. recruiting.

Recruitment is typically a reactive way of fulfilling immediate job vacancies in the fastest way possible. Job vacancies are costly. Recruitment prioritizes speed in order to fill a vacancy.

Talent acquisition (TA) is a proactive strategy to create a talent pipeline for the long-term goals of a company — namely, inclusion. Talent acquisition specialists are trained to identify and source leading talent with a focus on long-term viability. The talent acquisition process is much more conducive to inclusive hiring practices than a recruiter on a strict timeline. Build a robust TA program to keep inclusion a priority in hiring.

3. Avoid common recruitment mistakes.

We recently published an article about common mistakes in diversity recruitment that we see in the real world. These mistakes are specific pitfalls that, when kept in mind, can help inform companies how to build a successful strategy. Here are a few solutions:

  1. Make sure your talent acquisition team reflects the diversity you hope to hire
  2. Post vacancies on job boards that specialize in serving diverse talent
  3. Connect to diverse community organizations
  4. Remove bias from job descriptions
  5. Remove bias from your screening process
  6. Implement anti-bias practices in your interviews
  7. Understand tokenism and end it
  8. Redesign recruiting material to reflect your diversity goals
  9. Improve your candidate experience
  10. Update your overall DEIB strategy

4. Share diversity and inclusion resources often.

Make sure new hires know that your inclusion efforts don’t stop on orientation day. Seventy-two percent of young workers say they’ve started a new job and regretted accepting it. That’s nearly three out of four new hires that are unhappy.

Along with the diversity and inclusion statement itself, everyone in the company should be on the same page about your DEIB efforts. Terminology surrounding belonging should be well-understood at all levels of the company. Articles and resources from DEIB educators like PowerToFly should be regularly shared in employee newsletters.

Inclusive hiring practices help to get top talent in the door, but an inclusive company culture builds an environment where top talent wants to stay.

5. Build your custom DEIB toolkit.

After years of helping companies build custom DEIB toolkits for companies, our team developed a way to do this at scale with an all-in-one DEIB recruiting, retention, and education product for PowerToFly clients: the DEIB Business Suite. The Suite includes resources like an unconscious bias toolkit and inclusive job description templates that companies can use to reevaluate and inform their approach to inclusive hiring. A custom, end-to-end solution that meets your company where it’s at now can help ensure that you start following best practices across every department and team in the company.

What makes an employer inclusive? Advice for job hunters

Why is inclusive hiring important? Because job candidates can often tell if an employer uses inclusive hiring practices before accepting an offer.

There are plenty of resources out there for employers, but let’s address how difficult a job search is for those in historically marginalized communities. Job candidates that have experienced being discriminated against need to assess how they will be treated long-term. Though we can’t always predict what working for a company will be like, there are red flags (warnings) and green flags (go for it!) to watch out for.

Some clues will be obvious early on, while others may become apparent at a later stage in the hiring process. Regardless, these inclusive recruitment examples will help you decide if you should move forward with a company or graciously back out of the hiring process.

Red flags

Here are some “red flag” behaviors and clues that signal a company likely does not follow inclusive hiring practices.

Discriminatory language in the application. An economic development professional in our community reported backing out of an application with a world-renowned international security organization. Why? The drop-down menu on page one of the company’s human resources gateway has the following three title options: Mr./Mrs./Ms. The candidate is transgender. In order to complete the application, the applicant would have to misrepresent themselves within a gender binary — and an outdated one that specifies marital status at that.

Is this an intentional effort to exclude trans and nonbinary candidates? Perhaps not. The better question is this: Should a job candidate be placed in a position where they need to answer that kind of question on behalf of a company? Or should the organization be clear and inclusive in their hiring practices to remove all doubt? Discriminatory application parameters like this are a clue that an organization does not have inclusive hiring practices overall.

Lack of diversity on the hiring team. All-White, all-cis male hiring panels should be a thing of the past. There is also non-visible diversity to consider. Only 4% of the companies that say they value diversity consider disabilities as a factor. Whether ethnic diversity, neurodiversity, or diversity of mobility, the hiring team should be a clear reflection of belonging to potential candidates.

Poor reputation amongst your community. We’ve seen a cultural shift in inclusive hiring practices in recent years. Workers in the job market are more informed than ever. Inclusive hiring practices in 2024 can make or break a company’s reputation among both employees and communities at large. Check out the #InclusiveHiringPractices hashtag on TikTok. You’ll find both negative and positive anecdotes about big-name companies being shared in multiple languages. You can get more granular searching by company name. This, along with traditional sites like Glassdoor, help you get a sneak peek inside a company’s culture. If the company you are interviewing with has too many negative stories, be extra cautious. They may not follow through on inclusive hiring practices.

Green flags

Here are some “green flag” behaviors for clues that a company practices inclusive hiring. Reading this section, you’ll probably notice one thing right away: Every one of these practices reflects a clean break from traditional big-company behaviors.Though neutrality and opacity were accepted as “professionalism” in the past, we know now that those outdated norms contributed to exclusion. Seeing these green flags early in the hiring process is a sign the company is doing its due diligence and aiming for true DEIB.

Transparency at every stage. The job description clearly states the pay rate you can expect upon hiring. There are no large pay ranges with vague reference to assessing your experience. Even better? Transparent pay rates for all positions within the company. Remote positions are clearly outlined (in-country requirements or not) to avoid wasted time on both ends. The hiring timeline is stated with applicable dates. Communication is free-flowing.

Encouragement from the hiring team. In a “people-first” company, job candidates work with a hiring team that is rooting for them, not against them. Emily Felner reports that during her interview at Logicworks, administrative staff wished her “good luck” before speaking with the interview panel. Inclusive hiring practices mean potential hires feel welcomed and supported rather than judged or nervous. Hiring panels are not opponents, but potential future teammates.

Dynamic benefits discussed during hiring. A final positive clue that a company engages in inclusive hiring practices is that job benefits are discussed early and often. For remote workers, this can mean a stipend for technology, work supplies, office space conversions, a coworking allowance, and more. For LGBTQIA+ applicants, employee benefits must have coverage that takes discrimination into account. For example, benefits should extend to civil partnerships and adopted children, not just legally married partners or biological children. Similarly, fertility benefits shouldn’t include an infertility diagnosis – something that’s irrelevant to many queer couples hoping to access these benefits – as a prerequisite. When dynamic benefits are discussed openly, it allows time for applicants to assess if those benefits are robust enough to meet their needs.

Inclusive hiring practices for 2024 and beyond

Inclusive hiring best practices are constantly evolving. The more we deconstruct professional frameworks with built-in exclusions, the more aware we become. The work of making progress isn’t easy. Doing better – being better – is a constant growth process.When every company has up-to-date inclusive hiring practices and a diverse workforce that reports a high sense of belonging, our collective mission will be a success. In the meantime, bookmark this guide. Refer back to it throughout the year, and use it as a resource to inform your evolving TA procedures now and into the future. Let’s collaborate to do the work, together.

I want to hear how PowerToFly can help advance my company's inclusive hiring strategy.

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