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7 Diversity Recruiting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Creating a solid diversity recruitment plan is a great first step toward achieving your DEI goals. However, during the planning stages, you may not consider some pitfalls that can occur along the way—and if you don’t, you may derail your progress. The following are some common diversity recruiting mistakes that organizations make and how you can avoid them.

7 Common Diversity Recruiting Mistakes and How to Overcome Them

1. The Mistake:  Not Using Data Effectively

The Aftermath: Your data may be collected, but it isn't useful in helping you reach your goals.

The Alternative: Having data is great, but you need to know how to use it effectively for it to make a difference. Be sure to collect information about the candidates you have at every stage of the hiring funnel so you know if there is an area you need to improve on. Also, keep track of your current workforce, so you know how long employees from underrepresented groups stay at your organization and if there are any issues in your company that causes turnover. In order to get the most out of your data, you want to assess your needs and invest in the right diversity recruiting platform so you capture and analyze the most important information.

2. The Mistake: Focusing on Diversity Alone

The Aftermath: You may hire candidates from untapped communities, but you will not be able to keep them long.

The Alternative: New hires from underrepresented backgrounds may see promise in your organization because you let them know you’re committed to diversity. However, when they get there, if they don't feel welcome, they won't stay very long. Also, if they notice that they're not getting the same opportunities as other employees, they will choose to go elsewhere. This means that while you work on the diversity piece of the puzzle, you have to also work on improving equity and inclusion. Collect data on how much all employees make and look for any potential gaps in compensation so you can ensure that those from underserved backgrounds are earning what they should. In addition, you can create a more inclusive environment by forming employee resource groups that allow people from specific communities to have a safe place to come together and express their experiences, while sharing their concerns with management and coworker allies.

3. The Mistake: Focusing Recruiting Efforts on Only Race and Gender

The Aftermath: You won’t have a workforce that is truly diverse because you’re leaving out several different types of diversity in the workplace.

The Alternative: Although focusing your efforts on racial and gender diversity will help you create a better workplace, you should keep in mind that there are great potential employees out there who are veterans or people living with disabilities. Also, you may need to look at the diversity of your company in terms of religious background, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and age because you may need more representation in these areas as well.

4. The Mistake: Creating Job Requirements That Are Too Rigid

The Aftermath: You end up excluding a lot of good talent from underrepresented backgrounds because they may not seem like a perfect candidate on paper.

The Alternative: While in some cases, certain degrees or job experience may be necessary for candidates to be effective in a position, it's important to evaluate whether or not your job requirements are too rigid. Focusing on things like specific degrees, job titles, grade point average, or certifications may actually alienate a lot of the candidates you're trying to attract. If you're able to loosen some of these expectations, you cast a wider net because you fill your hiring funnel based on the skills candidates have and the potential they demonstrate.

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5. The Mistake: Creating Job Descriptions With Biased Language

The Aftermath: You'll turn off the very candidates you want to hire.

The Alternative: Language matters, so every job posting should be carefully screened to ensure you're using inclusive language. For example, using a lot of jargon in job descriptions can turn off talent from underserved communities because they may be experiencing imposter syndrome that makes them mistakenly believe they're not qualified for jobs they'd actually be the perfect candidate for. Also, using terms that are considered masculine—like “competitive” and “driven”—can subconsciously tell a woman this is not the right job for her, while terms like “blind spot” can turn off potential candidates living with disabilities. As a result, it's important to ensure the language you use is inclusive for all job applicants.

6. The Mistake: Not Having Enough Interview Flexibility

The Aftermath: You may not get the opportunity to interview qualified candidates from untapped communities.

The Alternative: Many people from underserved groups have a challenging time participating in job interviews that are conducted during business hours. They may have to work full-time while they’re attending college or maintain multiple jobs to make ends meet. This can make it difficult for them to find the time to participate in an interview from 9 to 5. One way you can increase the diversity of your hiring funnel and ensure candidates don't fall out at the interview stage is by being more flexible with your interviewing schedule. You may want to allow candidates to interview after hours or on weekends in order to give them a fair shot at being considered for a position.

7. The Mistake: Neglecting Employer Branding

The Aftermath: The impact of your diversity recruiting may go unnoticed by the community, which can limit the potential talent you reach.

The Alternative: You can make great strides in your diversity recruitment, but if no one knows about it, you may not be able to hire talent from underrepresented backgrounds as much as you want. It's important to use your employer branding to let the community know that you value diversity, equity, and inclusion, and you welcome employees from all backgrounds at your organization. Be sure to use your recruiting website and social media to highlight your diversity goals, stories of employees from underserved groups, and activities you participate in that help people in underserved communities.

Sometimes in the excitement of creating a diversity recruitment plan, people don’t consider the unintended consequences of some of their hiring strategies. As you work toward your diversity, equity, and inclusion goals, keeping these common mistakes in mind will help you avoid them—which will go a long way toward getting and retaining the talent you want.

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