Answering the Most Common Diversity Hiring Questions

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Diversity and inclusivity are among the most important goals for any organization right now. Still, it’s an area where many companies need to build and improve—and where we can all strive for more and better. It can be hard to know how to step up your diverse hiring and recruiting, but you’re not alone. Here are some of the most common questions when it comes to improving diversity in your talent funnel.

What are “Dimensions of Diversity”?

Think of diversity like a diamond: produced from the struggles and hard work of overcoming biases and inequality over the decades. The past puts pressure on all of us to do better in making the workplace as productive and diverse as it can be. That process can produce something beautiful, like a diamond—something multifaceted and valuable. Those facets are the “dimensions” here. It means looking beyond the basic outlines of diversity and finding all of the different facets that make us unique people and workers.

These dimensions include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Race or ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Gender expression
  • Sexual orientation
  • Veteran status
  • Parental status
  • Differently abled status
  • Religion
  • Socioeconomic background

When people say “diversity,” it’s sometimes just shorthand for racial or ethnic differences. In reality, it’s so much more—people from different backgrounds and abilities provide true diversity of perspective.

How can we attract more diverse candidates?

There are plenty of challenges in moving from “we need to be more diverse” to “we’re actively hiring and recruiting more diverse employees.” In many organizations’ cases, it means changing up the recruiting status quo. Some of the most common mistakes in diversity hiring include:

Don’t expect the same old recruiting sites and sources to yield more diverse candidates. In reality, these places are going to keep giving you the same kinds of candidates you’ve always gotten from them, even if you change the wording of your job descriptions or explicitly embrace diversity. It’s time to branch out by seeking out job boards or groups that have broader outreach. Here are some diversity-focused job boards that can help you expand your reach:

  • PowerToFly: A recruiting platform that connects companies to women in tech, sales, marketing, and other digital fields.
  • DiversityJobs: A job site network that links BIPOC, including Black and African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans, women, veterans, people with disabilities, older workers, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
  • All Hispanic Jobs: Bilingual job opportunities for people who speak English and Spanish.
  • VeteranJobs.net: A job board focused on empowering veterans and transitioning military with jobs and resources.
  • AARP: A nonprofit organization that connects employers with older job seekers.
  • Ability Jobs.com: The largest job site for people with disabilities or physical limitations.
  • AsianHires.com: A job search engine dedicated to enhancing the careers of Asian professionals.
  • The Mom Project: A job board committed to building a better workplace and connecting working moms to employers that support working parents.
  • FairyGodBoss: The largest career community for cis women, trans women and nonbinary individuals.
  • 70 Million Jobs: Jobs and career resources for people with criminal records.

AI and vendor management tools can help you diversify your hiring sources and job boards as well, and make sure you’re reaching talent in as many places as possible.

Make sure your employer brand is inclusive. All of your outward-facing communication (website, social media, online interactions) should be clear about your desire for diversity and inclusivity. If you have a reputation for having a particularly rigid culture or your online resources only seem to include limited types of people, you could be discouraging potential candidates who feel like they might not fit in. Diversity is almost always a goal in process, so it’s okay to be open about what you’re going for, what you’re doing well, and what you’re striving to do better.

Check your job descriptions for biased language. Very few places are openly discriminatory in their job descriptions or recruiting materials—it’s illegal and inappropriate. But despite best efforts, sometimes unconscious bias can creep in and discourage otherwise qualified candidates from joining your organization. For example, words like “aggressive” or “competitive” have been shown to discourage some women from engaging with a job description. Also, setting hurdles like internships or levels of education (when they’re not absolutely necessary for the role) can discourage people who have valid experience in other ways, but maybe not a credential on paper. It’s important to review your job descriptions to make sure that they’re not pushing away groups of people who might otherwise apply and be qualified. After all, your end goal is hiring people who can do the job well and be a valuable asset to your team—not someone who checks arbitrary boxes.

What’s the 10-10-5-45 rule?

Virtually everything we do these days is driven by data. Diversity hiring and recruitment is no different. The math should guide your recruiting, and provide actionable information that you can use to keep making progress. The 10-10-5-45 rule is a common diversity benchmark that gives you a target for your hiring:

  • 10% of employees should be Black/African American.
  • 10% of employees should be Latinx/Hispanic.
  • 5% of an inclusive company’s workforce will likely be nonbinary.
  • 45% of employees should identify as women.

Achieving this balance is not a fast process, nor is it a static target. But it’s a good guideline to keep in mind as you look to make your employee base more diverse. Using metrics like this one can help you track your progress, and see what you still need to work on.

What are some other things we can do to improve diversity without a huge investment of resources?

One of the best ways to change thinking and embrace inclusivity is one of the oldest tools known to humankind: talking to each other. Employees have their own experiences and opinions to share, and you can facilitate ways for them to communicate that. Whether it’s anonymous surveys or open forums/small groups where people are encouraged to share honest feedback, you can gain an incredible amount of insight from a resource you already have.

What do you say to people who believe that changing recruitment policies or rewriting job descriptions is “lowering the bar”?

Many people are conditioned to see hiring in a very rigid way: you are your resume, that’s it. If you don’t have certain things on paper, you don’t have the job. In reality, we know that two-ish pages of sterile bullet points and text rarely tell you much about a person. Try to get your team to understand that open-ended questions and trying to see candidates in a more holistic way is a more effective approach.

A company’s culture is a fluid thing, and you want to make sure that your organization is committed to adding value that culture, not necessarily looking to maintain a status quo. Emphasize that you want to find people who are qualified and would bring value to your company, and that standards aren’t set in stone. Your team is your diamond—it should be as strong and multifaceted as you can make it.

 

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