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How to Incorporate the Rooney Rule Into Your Recruiting Efforts

The Rooney Rule was adopted by the National Football League (NFL) in order to increase the number of underrepresented minorities and women in leadership roles, including coaching jobs, by requiring that at least one candidate from these groups be considered for every open senior-level position. This approach has successfully increased the minority coaching hires in the NFL, and it can be applied to any industry to boost diversity. Continue reading to find out seven ways to incorporate the Rooney Rule into your organization’s hiring efforts.

7 Factors to Consider When Applying the Rooney Rule

Companies that are committed to diversity can apply the Rooney Rule to their recruiting process, but in order to reap the benefits, it’s important to consider the following seven factors.

1. Expand the definition of diversity 

Although the Rooney Rule approaches diversity in terms of women and racial minorities, it’s important to remember that there are additional groups that have been disenfranchised in the workplace. To create a truly diverse company, you should also think about your recruiting in terms of finding top talent that are members of other underrepresented groups, including those who are living with disabilities, members of the transgender or non-binary communities, and people who are a part of different cultural and religious groups. This way, you can attract employees who have a wealth of unique experiences and knowledge to share with your organization, which will go a long way toward making it even stronger.

2. Focus on all positions

The Rooney Rule was implemented with a focus on leadership positions, but in your own organization, your commitment to diversity should be applied to every position you fill. Chances are, it will be difficult to hire untapped employees for high-level executive positions if this talent has not really been given opportunities and nurtured at the lower levels. The more untapped employees you have at every level, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to promote from this pool and give workers the opportunity to climb up the ladder.

3. Look at who is being interviewed

The first thing organizations should look at to determine if their recruiting efforts are leading to a more diverse workforce is how many people from different groups are being included in the interview process. The more underserved talent you have during this stage, the more likely it is that you will have potential workers from historically excluded backgrounds in the later stages of the hiring funnel. If you find that you don't have a good number of diverse candidates at this stage, reevaluate how you’re attracting applicants and the places you use to find them.

4. Look at who is conducting the interviews

Looking at the people that you are interviewing is one side of the coin, however, it’s also important to consider the other side of the coin: Who is doing the interviewing? This needs to be gauged in order to ensure that your recruiting process is fair because although you may have every good intention of hiring underrepresented workers, sometimes unconscious bias may get in the way. The more diverse your interview panel is, the more likely you'll be able to hire historically marginalized talent, as well as make those potential hires feel comfortable because they’ll see that your company employs people who have the same backgrounds that they do.

5. Monitor your progress throughout the hiring process

At each stage of the hiring funnel, be sure to evaluate how much untapped talent is being moved along from one step to the next. If there is a huge discrepancy in one part of the funnel, this would be a good time for you to look at your processes and adjust them accordingly to ensure that each stage of the hiring process is fair to all applicants. Then in the end, look at data of how many untapped employees end up being hired and you'll have an idea of how successful your strategies have been.

6. Don’t forget retention

It's not enough to hire people from historically overlooked backgrounds. That's only the beginning of your work if you truly want to create a culture of diversity. This is where the inclusion piece of the puzzle comes in. Once you have hired talent from underrepresented backgrounds, you have to give them a reason to stay at the organization—otherwise, all of your efforts will be in vain. These hires need to feel like they are welcome and supported, and some ways to do that include mentoring programs that help them navigate your organization and employee resource groups that allow them to have their own spaces with other employees who share their backgrounds and their concerns. Also, be sure to pay attention to promotion trends in your company, as well as compensation and opportunities for professional development. If employees from historically overlooked backgrounds are not receiving the same opportunities for these benefits as their peers, this can cause dissatisfaction that will make them leave.

7. Adapt the Rooney Rule based on your organization’s distinct needs

The Rooney Rule is a great starting point if you want to incorporate diversity into your recruiting process for the first time or find ways to expand on your current efforts. However, keep in mind that this initiative can be adapted to meet your organization's needs. By making this process your own, you can address shortfalls in diversity that are relevant to your company so you can address them specifically.

By considering these seven factors, you can incorporate the Rooney Rule into your recruiting process and use it in the ways that make the most sense for your organization. And no matter what you do, be sure to measure the results from the start of the hiring process to the onboarding stage and beyond. Remember diversity is an ongoing company journey, not just a destination you judge by numbers on a spreadsheet. 

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