Merriam-Webster defines diversity as follows:
“The state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization.”
For the sake of this post, we will focus on diversity in recruiting. This is the act of recruiting candidates from a variety of backgrounds with the hopes of creating a diverse workplace.
While some recruiters, HR professionals, and company owners fully understand the importance of diversity in recruiting, others continue to fall into the trap of hiring the same “type” of people, time after time.
Here is the good thing: diversity in recruiting is easier than most people believe. All it takes is a solid understanding of the importance, a targeted strategy, and the ability to focus solely on talent (not assumptions).
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Here is a blog post title that leaves no room for confusion:
“When it Comes to Diversity, Just Focus on Talent and NOT Superficial Assumptions.”
ERE Media discusses the importance of focusing purely on talent, nothing else. Don’t worry about what a person looks like or where they come from. Your goal is to find the right candidate for the position, taking into account talent above all else.
There is a lot to take away from this piece, but here is a phrase you should keep in mind: blind audition.
It can be difficult to put on blinders when interviewing candidates. After all, you are sitting in the same room or interviewing a person via video. Even so, you should take this approach.
Don’t look at who you are interviewing in terms of skin color or nationality. Look at each person in terms of talent and what they can bring to the company. If you do this, you can be rest assured that diversity will follow.
American Society of Association Executives
There is a difference between realizing the value of diversity and actually turning it into reality. If you want to attract and retain a diverse pool of employees, it is essential to do the following:
- Understand demographic changes.
- Educate staff on the meaning of diversity.
- Learn how to target and interview diverse groups.
- Develop a diversity friendly culture.
- Become known within your industry as the company of choice for a diverse workforce.
- Measure all recruitment efforts.
- Build relationships with minority organizations.
The American Society of Association Executives shares additional information, including this quote from Barbara Stern, vice president of diversity for Harvard Pilgrim Health Care:
“Make sure people understand the business rationale for having a diverse workforce, otherwise diversity recruiting is misunderstood as preferences or affirmative action. Even though that business case is clear, we still have the challenge of making sure that white males and females don’t feel excluded from the process, and that they don’t feel they’re going to lose.”
In short, you have to do more than understand diversity in recruiting. You must have a plan for taking action.
U.S. World & News Report
While some companies continue to lag behind in regards to diversity in recruiting, others continue to put time, money, and resources into this.
A recent U.S. World & News Report article touched on trends in diversity recruiting, with a focus on the approach taken by some of the largest and most well known employers in the country.
AT&T, for example, stops at nothing when it comes to diversity in recruiting. The article explains this as follows:
“The goal of AT&T is to “have the best talent at the table from every background,” says Rick Gomez, executive director of Global AT&T College Recruiting. Developing programs and strategies to attract minority candidates on campus is extremely important, because they heavily weigh the value of diverse teams. For instance, Gomez mentions that the company’s strategy involves partnering with student organizations, such as Student Veterans of America and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers to “fill the needs of the organization, and at the same time, build our brand and recruit top campus talent – creating a win for the organization and a win for AT&T.”
AT&T sets a good example for companies of all sizes in all industries. If you have the goal of hiring the best talent from every background, if you don’t deviate from this plan, the results will be as expected.
Harvard University set out to answer a very important question: why is diversity in recruiting so important?
Every company is likely to have a unique response, but here are some of the top reasons for its importance:
- Different backgrounds lead to new ideas and fresh ways of doing things.
- A diverse staff allows people from all backgrounds to learn more about each other, thus creating a positive atmosphere in which relationships are valued.
- By building a reputation for a diverse workplace, it is easier to attract top talent regardless of background.
You need to dig beyond the basics to understand why diversity recruiting is so important. Harvard University gives you a start. What other reasons are important to you?
If a broader recruitment effort is on your mind, now is the time to do something about this. The HR Council discusses what it means to be proactive in terms of your recruitment efforts.
The following advice “can support an organization when engaging a new audience,” allowing you to better connect with a variety of applicants:
- Get the word out to different groups. Rather than stay in your comfort zone, seek new ways to find talent. For example, you can advertise through employment service centers, community boards, and minority groups.
- Build relationships with cultural groups. Regardless of your location, you should be able to find several groups in your local area to work with. If not, don’t be shy about expanding your search.
- Connect with a large volunteer base. If you don’t have any open positions right now, don’t shy away from taking on volunteers. Let these people know that positions may be opening in the future, and they will be considered first.
It’s never easy to change your ways, especially if you have been “stuck in the mud” for so long. It may be hard to adjust your approach, but it’s not impossible. A broader recruitment effort will payoff.
National Association of Colleges and Employers
There is no denying the fact that diversity in recruiting is beginning to pick up. While this is a good thing, there is still plenty of progress to be made.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers tracks data associated with diversity recruiting, noting that respondents to its 2012 Recruiting Benchmarks Survey have intentions to intensify their efforts to recruit underrepresented minorities. These companies plan on doing so in many ways, including the following:
“Securing management support for the diversity recruiting program—Diversity recruiting should be incorporated into your organization’s overall goals with solid support from upper management. Be sincere about diversity efforts. To demonstrate support for your organization’s diversity recruiting efforts coming from the top, your organization might, for example, send a senior-level person to campus to meet with students or participate in an information session.”
You don’t necessarily need a diversity recruiting program, but a strategy for attracting a diverse talent pool is a must. Companies that have the resources and manpower, of course, may want to implement a diversity recruiting program that is staffed with the primary responsibility of targeting applicants of all backgrounds.
You can be rest assured that the National Association of Colleges and Employers is familiar with issues pertaining to diversity in recruiting. The information provided by the organization, especially in its annual recruiting benchmarks surveys, is invaluable.
When it comes to diversity in recruiting, few have more knowledge and expertise than Jackye Clayton.
In this article, Clayton urges readers to review the Bloomberg Finance diversity page. The reason is simple: she feels this page on global diversity is the cream of the crop.
On this page, you will come across a variety of global initiatives. These include but are not limited to:
- Bloomberg Communities, such as Black Professional, LBGT, and Women’s groups.
- Women’s coaching and development programs.
- Culture survey.
- Curriculum design.
- Strategic partnerships with organizations such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities, American Asian Journalists Association, and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.
Let’s put it this way: if you are going to listen to anyone’s advice regarding diversity in recruiting, let it be Jackye Clayton. She knows this subject matter like the back of her hand.
Workforce Diversity Network
What can you learn from an organization that dedicates itself to workforce diversity? The answer: quite a bit.
The Workforce Diversity Network shares a variety of information and advice on its website, including the development of a strategic diversity recruiting process. Here is what the organization thinks about this:
“The strategic approach to diversity recruiting links all activities together such that the synergy accelerates success. It allows organizations to avoid the problem of investing time, energy and resources into recruiting activities that do not lead to sustained results. A SDR process has five components: Culture Shift, Outreach, Recruiting, Retention and Management Infrastructure. When these components are optimized to work together they create a chain reaction that unleashes the tremendous power of the SDR process. However, organizations must realize that success is not so much dependent on any one of the components, but in the collective effect of all five. SDR is truly a case where “the chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” Organizations must have effective strategies for all five components.”
If you don’t know the first thing about a strategic diversity recruiting process, if you have yet to rely on such a strategy in the past, it can be challenging to change your ways. But remember, a change could do you good. If you continue with your same process, you can only expect the same results.
North Carolina State University
North Carolina State University, just the same as many educational institutions, has an Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity.
Private employers need to realize that they can take the same approach. You may not have the resources to startup a separate division for equity and diversity, but this doesn’t mean you can’t implement this approach into your workplace.
The North Carolina State University Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity focuses on details such as:
- Overall recruitment efforts.
- Planning the search for new employees.
- Evaluating the applicant pool.
- Selecting the finalists.
- Interviewing the finalists.
- Making an offer.
When you don’t have unlimited resources and manpower, you may have to take a unique approach to equity and diversity in recruiting. As long as you end up in the same place, such as by focusing on the details above, you won’t have anything to worry about.
Diversity in recruiting is a big deal in today’s day and age. It’s easy to come up with excuses, such as this one shared by ClearCompany (citing SHRM):
“A SHRM report recently noted that 41% of managers are “too busy” to implement diversity initiatives. It may be true that managers have too much on their plates to handle on a given day, but the stat reveals just how small of a priority diversity hiring is. If managers want anything to get done about the lack of diversity on their teams, they’ll need to start fitting it into their schedule. That means making it a bigger priority.”
Being busy is no excuse for ignoring the importance of diversity in recruiting. You can make a change for the better by adjusting the process you have used in the past.
With the 10 resources above providing guidance, you are closer than ever to realizing your goal of recruiting a more diverse workforce.
Do you have any other tips to share? Any other resources that may come in handy?
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