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5 Ways to Tackle Diversity Recruitment

Diversity helps encourage open-mindedness, a more accepting and inclusive culture, and spurs divergent thinking.
Group of diverse business people strategizing about their hiring efforts

The average American workplace today looks different than the workplace fifty years ago, and while progress has surely been made, developing a more diverse and inclusive workforce remains a challenge for most companies. And when we approach diversity in the workplace, we look at it through two primary lenses: inherent diversity and acquired diversity. Inherent diversity includes demographic characteristics like race, sex, and age. On the other hand, acquired diversity includes factors such as education, experience, values, skills, and knowledge. Both are important when tackling diversity recruitment.  

And why aspire for a diverse workforce? Diversity helps encourage open-mindedness, a more accepting and inclusive culture, and spurs divergent thinking that could lead to more creative solutions to problems. Employees who are different from each other are more likely to learn from one another as well. A workforce with a variety of skills and backgrounds can help bolster peer-to-peer learning and help enrich the overall team skillset. Even more, data suggests that companies who actively seek out diverse leadership perform much better as well. In fact, in a recent study done by McKinsey, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. 

What is Diversity Recruitment?

Diversity recruitment is an attempt to eliminate bias in the hiring process in order to make a more diverse workplace that includes all genders, ethnicities, ages, sexual orientations, backgrounds, and education levels. Unconscious bias is almost always a factor in hiring decisions, and in order to combat this, companies must proactively source candidates from a variety of backgrounds to have a diverse pipeline.

Despite what some may think, diversity recruitment is not just increasing workplace diversity for diversity’s sake, but removing potential biases that may be inhibiting hiring qualified, diverse candidates. 

The Importance of Diversity Recruitment in 2019

The conversation around diversity recruitment is maturing in 2019. More and more people see the need for a diverse workplace and expect companies to push the initiative forward. In a 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, 69% of executives rate diversity and inclusion as an important issue. Job seekers are also in the same mindset with 67% of candidates stating that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers. 

Additionally, as 75% of the workforce will be made up of millennials by the year 2025, it’s important to note that this demographic is particularly keen on workforce diversity. To hire and sustain a millennial workforce, businesses must make diversity a key part of the company culture. 

Benefits of Having a Diversity Hiring Plan

Despite 85% of employers and hiring managers saying that increasing diversity in the workplace is a priority, only half actually have a diversity hiring plan in place. This is concerning because without a specific plan, it’s difficult to achieve cohesion and collaboration between team members within a diverse workforce. Outside of practical execution, there are several other benefits of having a diversity hiring plan, as listed below.

Benefit #1: It increases the bottom line.

Increasing diversity in the workplace isn’t just a good moral choice as a business, it also improves financial performance. According to a 2018 Boston Consulting Group study, companies with diverse management teams generate 19% more revenue than those that don’t.

Benefit #2: It drives innovation.

Bringing people of different ethnicities with different backgrounds and experiences together only leads to a more diverse way of thinking. This melding of new ideas and approaches is a breeding ground for innovation. 

Benefit #3: It fosters a sense of community.

An inclusive workplace produces an environment where people feel safe and welcomed. As employees are able to bring their whole selves to work, they are happier and thus more engaged and productive.

Diversity Recruitment Ideas in 2019

Building a diversity recruiting strategy involves every step of the hiring process and beyond. Having tactics that increase equal opportunity at each stage will ensure a more balanced slate.

If you’re looking to recruit for diversity check out the tips below.

1. Establish the goal of becoming diverse.

First and foremost, your company must have an established goal to build and sustain a diverse workforce. If you, your hiring manager, and company leadership are on board with the initiative to become diverse, it’ll be much easier to build a diversity and inclusion program down the road. 

2. Foster a sense of inclusion at your company today.

Diversity isn’t something that can be created overnight, but fostering a sense of inclusion is the first step to making a more welcoming workplace for new employees. There are many ways to do this from holding company-wide events that discuss the importance of diversity and inclusion to publicly acknowledging diversity recruitment—listening to employees, celebrating their differences, and even creating an inclusion council to help create new inclusion initiatives. Working with non-profits or other organizations that focus on improving diversity in workplaces can help businesses learn how to appeal to a more diverse range of jobseekers.

3. Widen search channels for applicants.

To achieve a diverse workforce, employers should widen their search channels to access more diverse networks. Rather than just posting on the same job boards or attending the same traditional career fairs, research other community resources that can connect you with less represented groups like war veterans, women, and sexual and ethnic minorities. Perhaps there are social media groups you can join or a mentoring program you can partner up with to reach a more diverse range of jobseekers.

4. Ensure job postings are neutral.

Certain words can have different meanings to different groups of people, and this can impact the way prospective candidates approach the opportunity. “A job description evokes a lot of emotions and feelings from people and different genders have different reactions to it—called gender differential,” explains Mettl Head of HR Gargi Rajan. “While men tend to react positively to terms like assertive and aggressive, women tend to be more inclined towards job descriptions with the words responsible, sociable, dedicated, and hard-working.” 

It’s also known that women only apply for jobs if they meet 100% of the criteria listed, whereas men apply if they meet 60% of the requirements. This statistic should influence the way recruiters think about job descriptions. “When creating job descriptions, clearly mention which all requirements or criteria are indispensable to do the job effectively and which skills and competencies are an add-on so that you can attract people from all walks of life,” adds Rajan.

5. Eliminate bias pre and post interview

Finally, it’s important to take diversity and inclusion initiatives throughout the entire recruitment process. Before the interview, try not to knowing too much about the candidate. “It’s human nature: knowing what someone looks like, what their name is, where they live or what education they’ve had will affect how they’re viewed and evaluated by future employers,” says Dina Bayasanova, cofounder of PitchMe. “Many employers are aware that they are probably losing out on some fantastic candidates as a result of having this information early on in the hiring process.”

To further mitigate bias, build a structured interview process that clearly defines what skills and attributes would make a successful candidate for a particular role that the hiring team has agreed upon in advance. This ensures that every candidate being interviewed is evaluated on the same criteria and not on other arbitrary characteristics. 


Diversity and inclusion is not a one-off initiative, but a constant work-in-progress. To truly lead diversity and inclusion transformation in the workplace, every individual leader must see the value of belonging and act on it. Of course, every company’s initiative will look differently, but they all require making a change. For hiring managers and recruiters, some immediate steps you can take are to review your open job descriptions and ensure they are neutral, tap into more diverse hiring channels to source from more diverse candidate pools, and observe your current interview and evaluation process to check for any processes that could encourage unconscious bias.

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