Diversity Hiring

Find out everything you need to know about what diversity hiring is, why it’s so important, and how to measure it. 

What is diversity hiring?

Diversity hiring is a recruiting strategy that works to eliminate the conscious and unconscious biases that can sometimes prevent otherwise qualified candidates from being hired. It places the focus firmly on a candidate’s ability to perform a specific role, rather than allowing the personal characteristics of individual applicants to play a part in a recruiter’s decision-making process.

Diversity hiring aims to remove biases in the recruiting process that are related to personal characteristics that do not impact job performance, such as: 

  • Age 
  • Race
  • Sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy)
  • Religion 
  • Ethnicity 
  • National origin
  • Citizenship status
  • Disability 

Diversity hiring seeks to ensure that candidates are evaluated and hired exclusively on objective criteria such as merit and aptitude. 

Is inclusion different than diversity in the hiring process?

While inclusion and diversity are related terms and often go hand-in-hand in the hiring process, there are critical differences between the two concepts. 

Diversity within hiring refers to a talent pool that contains applicants with a wide range of personal characteristics. This means, for example, that your recruitment funnel includes people from underrepresented groups and different backgrounds. Is your candidate shortlist made up of a homogenous selection of white males? Are all candidates of a similar age and socioeconomic status? Neither of these are diverse.    

Inclusion within the hiring process relates to treating all candidates fairly, equitably, and respectfully throughout the candidate journey. This may include ensuring all candidates have the same access to resources and training interviewers to avoid specific questions. Does your job description contain jargon or gendered language? Do interviewers allow shared personal backgrounds or interests to steer the direction of an interview? That’s not inclusive.  

Organizations need both workplace diversity and inclusion. For any company to reap the benefits of the effort put into diversity hiring, the organization also has to be inclusive and cultivate a true sense of belonging—for all employees. 

Why is a diverse workforce important within an organization?

The importance of diversity is not only a moral issue—it’s a business imperative. More than simply being the right thing to do, creating a diverse workforce improves many measures of organizational success. The goal of diversity hiring is not to hire solely for the sake of diversity, but to realize the benefits that a diverse workforce can bring to both employers and employees.   

Attracting and retaining talent 

With 83 percent of candidates saying they take an organization’s diversity into account before accepting a role, lacking diverse talent can impact an organization’s ability to attract the best candidates. And ensuring all employees feel equally valued as members of a diverse team helps drive workplace satisfaction and wellness.   

Driving innovation 

Recent years have shown us that the ability for businesses to pivot and adapt in a changing economy is a key driver for success. Diverse teams can draw from a broader range of perspectives and experiences, increasing organizational agility and innovation.

Financial returns 

There’s a vast amount of data out there to show that companies with diverse hiring processes are often more successful than their counterparts. Research from McKinsey, for example, found that companies with higher gender and ethnic diversity tend to outperform their less diverse competitors. 

Is diversity hiring legal?

Diversity hiring is absolutely legal—when performed correctly. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was established in 1965 to help enforce federal laws designed to protect candidates and employees from discrimination. The EEOC best practice guidelines can offer a helpful framework when training interviewers on which questions are and aren’t acceptable or legal to ask.     

It’s accurate to say that some employers are concerned about reverse discrimination—where diverse candidates may be hired simply for the sake of diversity. But by taking the time to implement thoughtful diversity hiring practices, what you’ll actually achieve is simply finding the right person for the job.       

How to measure your diversity hiring goals

To ensure that diversity hiring is embedded within your recruitment strategies, measuring your progress using metrics and data is essential. The first step to tracking your progress is conducting an audit of your current hiring process to assess its diversity.  

Once you have an accurate idea of where you stand, you can determine what to improve. In the beginning, you might find it easiest to focus on one key metric. If your goal is to overhaul the top of your recruitment funnel, for example, implementing diversity hiring strategies such as creating inclusive job descriptions is a great start.  

If you find minority or female candidates aren’t making it through to the final interviews or new hires lack representation despite a diverse pool of candidates, artificial intelligence (AI) can help. Using AI to standardize your interview process can help remove unconscious bias and create more effective and equitable hiring practices. 

Recruitment surveying is another excellent way to collect data from the candidate’s perspective. For best results, integrate candidate surveys at different stages of the candidate journey to build an accurate picture of how each step of the hiring process is perceived.

As you implement each new initiative, collect data at regular intervals so you can assess how successful each strategy is and make changes or improvements where necessary. 

Diversity hiring is a team effort

Diversity hiring shouldn’t just be a box to tick, but an integral aspect of any company’s recruitment strategy. And building a diverse workforce isn’t the responsibility of one person or team—it requires a collaborative approach from HR, recruiters, senior leadership, and hiring managers. With a strategic approach to diversity hiring—supported by technology like Clovers that helps eliminate bias in the interview process—hiring teams can work together to build a stronger, more diverse workforce.

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