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How to Create an Impactful Diversity Recruiting Strategy

There’s no way around it: If you want to increase the diversity in your organization, you need to have a strong diversity recruiting strategy. This means being intentional and systematic when addressing the diversity of your workplace. An impactful diversity recruitment strategy demands that you first determine which groups need more representation in your workforce, and then create a plan to attract that talent. Whether it is people from different racial, cultural, gender, or socioeconomic groups, your organization must have a specific diversity hiring strategy to find the type of candidates you want, pique their interest in working for the company, place them into your hiring funnel, and then select the right candidates and bring them on board.

This sounds like a tall order—and it is. But that doesn't mean companies can't create an impactful diversity recruiting strategy that will help them achieve their goals. Continue reading to find out how to implement an effective diversity hiring strategy, as well as some of the common myths you may need to dispel to be successful.

The Benefits of Having a Strong Diversity Recruitment Strategy

The benefits of having a strong diversity recruitment strategy cannot be understated. Candidates today consider diversity when they're weighing job offers, so if you want to remain competitive with other employers, you must have a diverse workforce. This is because diversity in the workplace not only makes employees happy, but also makes them more creative, more productive, and more likely to stay at your organization for a long time. In addition, organizations that have more diversity make higher revenues and are more innovative than those that aren’t as diverse. As a result, a diversity hiring strategy that helps you hire talent from underrepresented backgrounds is a must because you want to ensure that any efforts you make toward increasing the diversity in your organization are successful.

Common Myths About Diversity Recruitment Strategies

Despite the benefits of having a strong diversity recruitment strategy, there are some myths people believe that can impede recruiters’ progress—and may even dissuade leaders from providing a buy-in for diversity hiring. The following are some of these myths, along with the truth of the matters.

1. Diversity Recruiting Is Unnecessary

There is no doubt that we've come a long way as a society. Social and political movements through the decades have resulted in great strides in increasing equality and fairness for several marginalized groups in this country. As a result of this progress, some employers may believe that diversity recruiting simply isn't necessary anymore. After all, there are no more Jim Crow laws, women are able to find employment and thrive in the workplace, and LGBTQIA+ workers are more free to be themselves than they were in decades past. Some people may look at these accomplishments and think the heavy lifting has already been done, so there's no reason to invest time and energy in diversity recruiting.

However, we know that unconscious bias, and even conscious bias, is still very much present in the workplace today—and it can be a roadblock to having a truly diverse staff. Many organizations have little or no underserved groups on their staffs, even though they have qualified talent readily available to them. This means that despite the social progress that's been made in many ways over the years, there's still work to be done to make our society, and by extension our workplaces, truly based on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

2. Diversity Recruiting Is Too Expensive

Recruiting can be expensive, and some organizations believe that diversity recruiting only adds to those costs because they'll need to invest money in targeted advertisements or events specifically for underrepresented groups. Although tactics like these can be useful, there are other ways to find talent from diverse backgrounds. By putting out messaging letting job seekers know that diversity is important to your organization, and building relationships with candidates from the groups you’re targeting, you can put the talent you want into your recruiting pipeline without breaking the budget. 

3. Diversity Recruiting Automatically Addresses Inclusion 

The underlying idea of this myth is that diversity and inclusion are one in the same. They are not. Diversity refers to the backgrounds of people you're bringing into your organization, while inclusion refers to how this talent is treated once they get there. Although these terms are used interchangeably, the fact is that an organization can bring in all the talent from diverse groups it can find, but if these employees are not treated well when they get there, they will leave. As a result, it's important to implement strategies that make people feel welcome and valued, as well as ensure that all employees have equal access to opportunities. Remember that diversity and inclusion go hand-in-hand, so you can't have a successful diversity recruiting strategy if you're not creating a culture that is inclusive.

4. Diversity Recruiting Means Only Hiring From Underserved Groups

This myth is based on the belief that if you're going to have a diversity hiring strategy, that means you can only hire people from underrepresented groups, whether they're right for a position or not. Of course, we know this goes against all diversity recruiting best practices because no one wants to hire people from a specific demographic just for the sake of it. People who believe this should know that just because you have a diversity recruiting strategy doesn't mean candidates from underserved groups have to be put in every single open position you have.

5. Diversity Recruiting Is Just About Checking Boxes

This misconception is based on the assumption that if you're going to recruit employees from underserved backgrounds, the only reason you're hiring them is because of their membership in those groups, rather than what they bring to the table as candidates. Diversity recruitment is about opening up equal opportunities to all qualified candidates, and ensuring that biases don't consciously or unconsciously preclude anyone from getting hired. Checking off boxes is a shortsighted approach to hiring that’s likely to backfire on any business that tries it. Instead, companies should be focusing on finding the most qualified candidates, while still opening up opportunities to talent from diverse communities.

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How to Develop a Strong Diversity Recruiting Strategy

Creating a strong diversity recruiting strategy takes a great deal of effort and thought, but following these steps can make the process easier. 

1. Do Your Homework

Some companies are creating successful diversity recruiting strategies that help them meet their hiring goals. Other companies miss the mark. To learn diversity recruiting best practices, as well as what to avoid, be sure to study what other organizations are doing. Are they getting good results? Have they changed their strategies over time? By keeping abreast of the diversity hiring strategies of other companies, you can get an idea of what you should and should not be doing with your own.

2. Create Measurable Goals

After getting a taste of what other companies are doing and what their results have been, think about how you can incorporate this information into the hiring goals for your own business. Do you want to increase the number of underrepresented groups in your hiring pipeline? Do you have problems with talent dropping out of your funnel after being interviewed? No matter what challenges you're trying to address, be sure to create measurable goals that are as relevant to your organization as possible. And don't forget to periodically review your progress and change course as needed.

3. Be Prepared to Overhaul Your Hiring Process

Sometimes the only way you can make progress with a diversity recruitment strategy is to start over from scratch. Although it may sound like more work, if what you're doing just isn't working, it may be a better idea to just go back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan, rather than put a Band-Aid on the old problems you've been experiencing. There are several ways you can overhaul your current diversity hiring strategy:

  • Rethink diversity. How does your organization define diversity? To create a successful diversity recruiting strategy, you may need to think about what diversity means in your company, and tweak how you define it if necessary. Maybe you're thinking about racial diversity, but not gender diversity. Maybe you've made gender diversity a priority, but not even looked at veteran status. There is a broad range of diversity categories to consider when recruiting, so be sure not to narrow your definition when looking for talent.
  • Reconstruct job advertisements: Are your job advertisements not yielding the results you want in terms of applications? Or even worse, attracting the wrong type of candidates? Part of revising your diversity hiring strategy may be to rethink how you’re handling job ads. You may need to change where you place the ads, as well as the actual language used in them. Be sure that you're using inclusive language that is attractive to all job seekers so certain groups don't feel alienated.
  • Revisit interviews: If candidates drop out at certain points in the hiring process, it's a clue that something needs to change. The interview process is no exception, so you may need to create standardized interview questions, provide the questions to everyone beforehand, and offer feedback after interviews to keep applicants interested in working for your company.

Implementing a strong diversity recruitment strategy may require a brand new approach to hiring—but it will be well worth the effort. By evaluating what is and isn't working, dispelling your colleagues of popular myths about diversity hiring, and incorporating diversity recruiting best practices into your process, you can create a solid plan that will help you reach your goals.

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