15 steps you can take to build a more diverse workforce.

There’s no two ways about it — diversity is good. Not only is hiring for diversity the right thing to do from a societal perspective, but it has several economic benefits as well. According to research conducted by Deloitte, workplaces that prioritize inclusivity and diversity are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial goals, six times more likely to innovate, six times better at anticipating and responding effectively to change, and they generate 30% more revenue per employee. A McKinsey study also revealed that diverse organizations earn 35% better results than those that are more homogeneous.

You’d think these statistics would be enough to get every recruiter on board, but only 57% of those polled in a Glassdoor survey said their hiring strategies were designed to draw in diverse applicants. This is a significant missed opportunity for the other 43%, because the same survey found that “67% of job seekers believe diversity is an important factor when considering companies and job offers.” In other words, candidates are very aware of which organizations are making an effort to champion diversity, and they’re using that information to influence whether they apply or not.

So why aren’t HR teams clamoring to diversify their staff? There are a few reasons, all of which boil down to subconscious and conscious biases. It takes time to change discriminatory beliefs, mindsets, and cultures. While workplaces are definitely improving, a lot of ingrained ignorance remains to be undone. Now here’s what you can do about it.

Make a holistic strategy

Inviting candidates from different walks of life to an interview is a great step, but it’s not the only way to improve workplace diversity. These are some more techniques you can implement:

  1. Nurture your culture to be as inclusive as possible. That means everything from a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and harassment to accommodations for physical impairments and religious needs.
  2. Encourage referrals from current employees specifying that you’re looking for diverse applicants.
  3. Make the selection criteria and hiring process transparent. It should be clear that you’re looking for certain skills and experience above all else, and that the selection rubric and process are the same for every applicant.
  4. Don’t make exclusive education or experience a prerequisite. If you’re only considering candidates who have graduated from a prestigious school, completed an expensive course, or have experience with costly hardware or software, you’re automatically rejecting scores of people who are probably just as talented, but less privileged.
  5. Explicitly state on the job description that you are an equal opportunity employer. This lets your candidates know your culture is concerned about promoting inclusivity, and that merits are the most important considerations when hiring a candidate. In some jurisdictions, equal employment opportunities may carry legal obligations and compliance activities, so be sure to consult your HR professional, and/or employment and labor attorney about the best way to use the designation and stay compliant.
  6. Avoid gendered language in your application materials. Using words that have traditionally been associated with masculinity (ex: “dominant”, “challenging”, “aggressive”) or specific pronouns can discourage women and LGBTQ+ candidates from applying.
  7. Never, ever use quotas. Sadly, many organizations tokenize their employees by thinking one woman/Latino/amputee/Muslim will suffice. That mentality only serves to alienate employees, and it can contribute greatly to imposter syndrome.
  8. Post your vacancy in unlikely places, such as gyms, malls, daycare centers, and libraries. Depending on your industry, this can be a great way of reaching qualified leads who might not have had time or been able to search for your job posting online.
  9. Remove personally-identifiable information from submitted applications to reduce gender, age, and racial bias. There are specialized recruiting software programs that redact data like candidate names and addresses to prevent recruiters from making unfair assumptions.
  10. Clear your mind of stereotypes. During every interview, allow each candidate to present themselves as who they are before you jump to conclusions about their skill level, work ethic, abilities, interests, etc.
  11. Prevent unilateral decision-making by appointing a hiring panel, and encourage them to check each other’s biases throughout each stage of recruitment. The more diverse your panel, the better.
  12. Make it easy for women and minorities to stay loyal to your organization by empowering them. There are many different approaches you can take, which we’ve outlined here.
  13. Promote diverse employees to higher positions. It’s not enough for them to be in the door. Without promoting them to leadership roles, your organization won’t fully reap the rewards of having a multifaceted team. Worse still, you might risk losing those employees to other opportunities.
  14. Don’t limit your definition of “diverse.” It’s not just about gender, race, and sexuality. There’s always more you can do to be more inclusive and celebrate new ways of thinking, organizing, and problem-solving.
  15. Conduct exit interviews to learn why women and minority employees leave, and try to fix the issue whenever possible.

Make your workplace better for everyone

We believe improving the employee experience is an ongoing effort. That’s why we work so closely with HR teams to help their staff thrive in every aspect of their lives, from physical and mental health to financial tips and professional development resources. To learn more about how we can support your organization, contact our team at info@lifespeak.com.


Also published on Medium.