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6 Ways to Build an Equitable Top of Funnel Pipeline

Making the workplace more diverse and inclusive is on many organizations’ agenda right now, but they may have a hard time getting the talent they need into their hiring funnels—let alone actually hiring candidates from historically underserved groups. Naturally, the more candidates from untapped groups are at the top of the funnel pipeline, the more opportunities there are to hire this talent. But how do you get the top of the hiring funnel where it needs to be to accomplish this goal?

In a webinar we hosted, a panel of DEI experts and talent leaders addressed this issue, along with several other D&I topics. In the discussion with Emil Yeargin, Recruiting Leader at Gusto; Sean Cervera, Head of Diverse Leadership Recruiting at Facebook; and career success coach Jennifer Tardy, Owner of JTC, the following tips were suggested. 

1. Create an Inclusive Process   

You may have a diversity recruitment plan in place, but if you don’t ensure that your hiring process is inclusive, you won’t get the results you want. Before embarking on any strategies, review and evaluate them to determine how inclusive they really are. 

“You can spend all day sourcing incredibly diverse powerhouse talent, but at the end of the day, if your process isn't inclusive, the talent isn't going to navigate the process because bias hasn't been mitigated, trainings haven't been delivered, language hasn't been checked, and questions aren't being equitably asked,” said Sean. “So I think there's this big piece of how we ensure that our process is inclusive before we start sourcing talent to navigate our process.”

2. Demonstrate a Sincere Commitment to DEI   

It’s not enough to internally say that you’re committed to making your workplace more diverse. Your organization has to show talent communities that you’re committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion—and you have to make it convincing for these potential applicants to consider working for your company.

“One piece I've noticed is this trend of when you have marginalized groups navigating a recruiting process—and even allies—they want to see what we're doing as a company in regards to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging,” Sean explained. “If you haven't made this commitment, if there's no strategy, if there's no honest, transparent commitment to this work, that is going to be a huge red flag to a lot of candidates that are navigating the process. I think it's important as we think about talent brand, and employer brand, and our careers page, and all those things, to really double down and authentically invest in communicating that this work matters. Many times talent will ask as they navigate the process, and I've seen many times candidates have pulled out of the process because there isn't this level of commitment to this work that candidates need in order to be seen, felt, and heard.”

3. Go Where Underrepresented Groups Are 

You can’t necessarily expect talent from underrepresented groups to come to you—sometimes you have to find them. Jennifer says the strategy she suggests is to find the places where these groups are in abundance and go there. 

“One of the things I recommend that organizations consider is first think about where you're underrepresented, really have that conversation, and be able to say, ‘I'm underrepresented in this area. I'd like to increase representation in this area.’ So now, how do you increase representation in this area?” she explained. “One of the key things I tell people to do is begin posting your positions in locations that are overrepresented in the areas where you are underrepresented.”

4. Rethink Minimum Qualifications for Positions 

In some cases, recruiters may actually sabotage their diversity recruiting strategies by having minimum qualifications for positions that alienate much of the talent pool they’re trying to attract. To combat this, Emil suggests that you rethink the qualifications you ask for in job descriptions and adjust them if they are unnecessarily inflated.

“Does your social media manager need 20 years of experience? The advent of social media is relatively recent, so that just doesn't make any sense,” he said. “Are there unnecessary levels of education or certifications required? I think these are the things that, for folks from diverse backgrounds or who come from non-traditional backgrounds, reduce their confidence to apply, which is inherently cutting off that pipeline of good folks.” 

5. Use Language Appropriately

According to Jennifer, language is an important way to address shortfalls in the hiring funnel because in order to move forward with plans, organizations need to clearly define what it is they want and what certain terms really mean to them.

“The language that we use within an organization can either move all of us along or can leave some of us behind. One of the words that does that so quickly, and so uniquely, is how we use the word ‘diverse,’ which is why whenever I’m talking to employers, I always start with a crash course. I always say diversity means different. Diversity is not because of me. Diversity is because of us. Diversity has to be in context to a group,” she said. “And so whenever I see well-intentioned questions or statements that says this diverse person, I always make the recommendation, ‘Hey, can we change up the language a little bit to make it a little more inclusive or to be more effective in what we're trying to say?’ And what we're trying to say is, I want to talk about historically underrepresented populations. I want to talk about marginalized or minoritized populations. I love the word untapped, because it shows that something is happening to a group versus that group is happening to things.”

6. Put Salary Front and Center

Putting the salary into your job descriptions is not only a matter of transparency: It also helps underrepresented communities that have not historically been able to acquire strong negotiating skills understand their worth. This is especially important if your company wants to address any pay inequities that may exist.

“I'm a big fan of this because negotiating is a skill that we're all not necessarily blessed with,” Emil said. “So one of the things that as we peel back the layers of this issue is where's our starting point? And wherever your starting point is, it follows you for the entirety of your career for the most part. What we see is that disproportionately people of color, black women to be more exact, are underpaid versus their peers and their colleagues.”  

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