Sarah Cordivano
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Sarah Cordivano

Diversity Hiring Does not Exist in a Vacuum

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Hiring a diverse team is not as simple as getting applicants through the door. A successful strategy requires a holistic approach to hiring and retaining a diverse workforce as well as creating a safe and inclusive working environment. This article explains the main levers and dependencies that can affect your efforts. These initiatives build into one another to create a strong, interconnected and successful approach to diversity hiring.

Data is Power

Tracking your pipeline and hiring results helps you identify where your problems lie. This will allow you to pinpoint where bias creeps into your processes and where you see a drop-off of applications.

Quick Idea: If you are hoping to hire more women, you’ll need to understand how many women are applying and how many you are hiring. Instead of assuming gender identity, you will need to ask applicants to self-identify their gender during the application process. Be sure to be inclusive of nonbinary gender and also let applicants decline to identify.

Attractive and Inclusive Job Ads

Write job ads that welcome everyone to join your organization. Avoid biased, exclusionary or uninviting language. Make a clear statement in the job ad on your diversity, inclusion and belonging values. This helps applicants determine if there’s a value match between them and your organization.

Quick Idea: Read this blog on how to write a strong, transparent statement on inclusion in your job ads. This blog outlines how applicants determine whether there’s a culture match between them and their future employer.

Build Strong Relationships

Based on your hiring goals, proactively build connections with underrepresented communities and authentically support them. If done right, this creates strong, mutually beneficial relationships and will encourage members of those communities to apply.

Quick idea: Provide grants or sponsorships to organizations that support women and other underrepresented groups entering your industry. Host meetups for local organizations that offer networking and community building. Provide other resources beyond money such as workshops and mentoring.

Remove Bias from your Decisions

In order to make fair and unbiased decisions, take some time to make sure your managers, recruiters and anyone involved in the hiring process has a strong understanding of their own privilege, structural discrimination, allyship and unconscious bias.

Quick Idea: Organize a workshop with your hiring managers and recruiters with exercises such as The Privilege Walk or Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. Assign a reading list that includes titles like: How to Navigate your Own Privilege and How to be an Inclusive Leader.

Hire from a Diverse group of Finalists

Instead of hiring only from your immediate network of contacts, make a goal to hire from a broader, more diverse group. The best way to do this is to make sure you have a diverse group of candidates in your final interview stage before you make a decision.

Quick Idea: Make a policy (and stick to it) that you will not make a hiring decision until you have a diverse group of finalists. You can define what “diverse” means in this context based on your hiring goals. But typically this means that there is both gender and race & ethnic diversity among your finalists.

Create Psychological safety

If you have prioritized hiring for diversity, you also need to make sure the teams the new employees will join are inclusive and welcoming. This means you need to make an extra effort to create psychological and physical safety within teams. Do this by developing a clear, transparent process for employees to speak up on discrimination and microaggressions. Create top-down communication that harassment and discrimination are never tolerated. Give teams, especially managers, the tools to understand the value of diversity and role model inclusive behavior.

Quick Idea: Read this article on “Getting Over your Fear of Talking about Diversity”.

Empower your communities

Support Employee Resource Groups to form, be visible and have an impact in your organization. Ask for their insight when designing people-centered processes that are relevant to their communities. If ERG communities are proud of the company they work for, they will organically refer members of their communities to apply. Ask their advice on how to support their communities more broadly with sponsorship or resources.

Quick Idea: Read this book “Inclusion: Diversity, The New Workplace & The Will To Change” to learn more about ERGs and how they bring value to your organization.

These initiatives fit together to become a holistic approach to diversity hiring. If an organization focuses just on hiring talent and not on the many other factors that influence decision making, inclusion, fairness, retention and safety, they may be successful in hiring a diverse workforce but it will not stay that way. By planning holistically for diversity hiring, you are setting up your initiatives and your employees for success.




This publication explores practical diversity, equity and inclusion guidance for driving change in a global working environment. Header photo credit: @aznbokchoy on Unsplash.

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Sarah Cordivano

Sarah Cordivano

Community Building, Equity, Inclusion and Maps. Former Philadelphian, Current Berliner. Twitter @mapadelphia & LinkedIn.

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