Diversity is not a trend or a hashtag. Here are the facts: businesses with diverse teams (including members from across the LGBTQ+, BIPOC, age, gender, and ability spectrums) have broader perspectives, are more innovative, attract better talent, make better decisions, increase profits, and enrich company culture. Period. Getting these benefits requires an ongoing process of self-reflection and constant inclusion — and it can take a long time to change, but it’s a process worth undertaking.
This is the hard work: take an honest look at your company’s existing efforts to cultivate diversity. Here are some questions to get started:
- Does your current team composition reflect the demographics of the geographic area you’re hiring from?
- Do you have a clear diversity and nondiscrimination policy prominently displayed on your website or in your workplace?
- Are job candidates asked standardized questions written to remove bias from the hiring evaluation process?
- After accounting for experience and performance, are there inequalities in pay for identical positions that can only be explained by gender, age, or race differences?
- Is sensitivity education available for new hires in the onboarding process?
- Who is making your hiring decisions? Do you have diverse perspectives interviewing candidates?
For more resources, check out the Society for Human Resource Management and the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
Get the Team on Board
Businesses thrive by taking bold risks and challenging themselves to solve difficult problems. Opening up about your company’s diversity (or lack thereof) is uncomfortable. Conversations about race, prejudice, and bias require nuance, vulnerability, and open minds. Make sure you establish a safe space. If your organization is discussing this for the first time, start by talking with leadership before opening up to the rest of the team. These dialogues should happen in a mix of one-on-one, small groups, and company-wide meetings to give everyone an opportunity to speak honestly without fear of reprisal. Be prepared to acknowledge criticism from people who experienced discrimination and people who feel threatened by the changes. Offer continuing training for employees who want to learn more. Here are a few places to start:
- Two Types of Diversity Training That Really Work
- How to a Diversity & Inclusion Training Program
- Breaking the Prejudice Habit: Group Exercises
- Hidden Bias Tests
- Unconscious Bias Training
Everyone has unconscious biases that, unfortunately, can play a role in the hiring process. For example, studies show that applicants with white-sounding names are more likely to receive callbacks compared to resumes with Black-sounding names. Unconscious biases can affect hiring when candidate suitability is left to subjective and often nebulous criteria like “culture fit” that may not reflect company values. In these cases, the personal preferences of a hiring manager can have an outsized influence on the final candidate selection. A hiring manager at ScienceLogic asked people what they liked to do for fun during interviews. If they shared mutual hobbies, like hiking, he found that he liked those candidates more and gave them preferential treatment, “not for any reason that pertained to their ability to do the job.” So what can you do to address bias?
- Rewrite Job Postings to Be Gender-Neutral
You may be turning away potential job candidates before they even apply, simply by the way you write your job descriptions. Check your postings and company description for gendered words like “support” or “aggressive.” Software like Textio and Blendoor can help you attract the right candidate.
- Anonymize Personal Information About Candidates
Every hiring manager knows there are certain questions employers can’t ask. Go a step further and anonymize names, addresses, and school graduation dates. These bits of information, often included on resumes, allow hiring screeners to make judgments based on race, gender, and age. Use a standardized resume form or mask this information when making initial interview selections.
- Restructure Your Interview Process
Standardization is the best way to get objective comparisons between candidates. Ask open-ended situational and behavioral questions like, “What would you do if…” or “Tell me about a time when…” Try posing a business challenge your company currently faces and discuss the process they might use to solve it. Give candidates a score added up from various criteria, ideally scored by multiple people to give an average for each candidate.
Put Yourself Out There
An oft-cited complaint of hiring for diversity is that sometimes the hiring pool skews towards a particular demographic. Even companies like Slack, which has openly published statistics on the racial and gender demographics of its team, have had hiring difficulties. Still, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to hire a more diverse team. Here are a few tips for attracting a wider range of candidates:
- Use Different Hiring Avenues
If you typically hire by posting jobs on LinkedIn, try working with a recruiter (like Artisan!) to tap into a completely different professional network. Setting up a booth and advertising at conferences and job fairs are also great ways to push the boundaries of your hiring comfort zone.
- Consider Hiring Remote and/or Part-Time Candidates
Diversity can mean different things depending on where your business is located - and even open your candidate base to those with disabilities. For example, Los Angeles has completely different demographics than Milwaukee. Including remote candidates in your search is an easy way to instantly broaden your talent pool. Jobs with flexible or part-time hours are also more appealing to parents with child-care duties or people taking part-time college classes.
Be Transparent About Your Track RecordDiscrimination is a complex issue. Many companies, hoping to dodge criticism, avoid the conversation altogether. But writing and speaking about your process and experience of creating a more diverse team isn’t just a great way to clarify your own goals and do some self-reflection — it also influences other businesses to do the same. As an added bonus, a willingness to be open and transparent is an appealing company trait for job candidates. A survey by Glassdoor found that two out of three job seekers say that “a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers.”
Building structures into your hiring is an important first step to recruiting and developing a diverse and productive team. Artisan is here to help you with that process - no matter where you’re starting.
Editor's note: In our diversity, equity, & inclusion (DEI) series we acknowledge that we missed discussing how important it is to include people with disabilities in your DEI focus. A sincere thank-you goes out to our readers who pointed this out! We've since published this article to encourage hiring and support of people with disabilities.