HR and Recruiting

5 steps to make sure your company is diverse and inclusive

Written by Kate Lopaze

Diversity and inclusivity are major buzz words these days, but for good reason. Culturally, it means embracing differences and understanding that life experience is shared, but varied. Professionally, a diverse employee base can help your organization stay agile and productive, rather than stagnate with the same old ideas and viewpoints.

Let’s look at five steps you can take to enrich your diversity hiring initiatives.

1. Reconsider what “diversity” and “inclusivity” mean to your organization.

We all know the textbook definition of diversity pretty well by now—people from a broad range of cultural, gender, or religious backgrounds. But if you’re looking to truly up your diversity factor, it’s time to broaden that definition and think about what it means for your company. Consider other types of diversity: different educational backgrounds, different experience levels, different physical abilities, etc. Hiring for diversity and inclusivity may not mean much in the long run if you end up hiring people who technically tick the diversity box because they are in particular racial or ethnic groups, but are in the same educational or experience mold as everyone else in the company. Think about how you can really diversify the perspectives and skill sets in your employee pool.

2. Use a committee approach.

How do you get more diverse voices in your organization? Start by allowing more diverse voices to help make the decisions. Opening up the process to a committee, instead of putting it all on one person or department, can really help enhance your diversity strategy. If you include team members from various departments or parts of the company, you’re also adding a level of perspective diversity as well. Your committee may also bring fresh ideas about where to look for different kinds of talent, helping you move outside the standard job ad.

3. Commit to the process.

It’s one thing to say, “yeah, it’s our strategy to hire for diversity,” but it’s another to carve out the time and resources to do that, given that both are at such a premium. If you’re prioritizing diverse and inclusive hiring, you need to commit extra time to seek out alternative hiring and marketing methods to recruit that diverse talent. This may mean stepping outside your comfort zone to place ads or do outreach to non-mainstream job boards or resources.

4. Eliminate as much hiring bias as possible.

Just about all of us think that bias is something other people do, and that we never would discriminate against someone for non-professional reasons. But the unfortunate reality is that as, you know, humans, we’re susceptible to all kinds of unconscious biases. Acknowledging that and taking steps to overcome any temptation of bias is the key to any strategic hiring initiative. Studies have found that blind hiring (or eliminating particular personal details from the hiring process) results in significantly more diverse hires.

AI programs can do this at the initial application stage by screening incoming candidates without regard for things like name (which can trigger cultural or gender bias), geographic location, age, or school name. This is also a place where having a committee, or multiple people weighing in during the hiring process, can help, as it creates an open system of checks and balances to limit certain biases—whether they’re conscious or unconscious.

5. Broaden your job descriptions.

Is everything in your job description an absolute must for the position? If a candidate has two fewer years of experience than the ad calls for, but has other skills, would you consider hiring that person? If someone didn’t have a full B.A., but instead had years of experience doing pretty much the same work, would you consider hiring that person? Your job ads could be turning away qualified applicants from the start and you’d never know. Yes, you’ll want to make sure that the ads are reflective of what the position actually demands. But if there are elements that aren’t hard-and-fast requirements, consider leaving them out or making it clear that they’re flexible.

A more diverse and inclusive organization tends to be a more productive one, but it also leads to higher employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention. Putting time and resources against this priority and making sure that it’s a solid part of your organizational strategy moving forward will better prepare your company for the needs (and workforce) of the future.

About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.