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7 Ways to Align Your Hiring Towards Diversity

There’s a labour shortage underway across the UK, and companies are battling for talent across a wide spectrum of roles - both specialised and general. If you’re a recruiter or business owner, you most likely share that challenge, or know someone who does. 

Organisations are trying to tap into new talent pools, and in doing so aiming to improve the diversity profile of their organisation. While the intent is sincere, often the results don’t quite reflect that. 

Why is that? Let’s dive in.


For starters, we aren’t naturally wired for diversity. 

The concept of homophily - “tendency to gravitate toward people who seem similar” - affects everything we do, including recruitment. While many of us are aware of our conscious biases, our hiring practices don’t always help us tackle the unconscious ones. 

We tend to find comfort in the well trodden, highly tested processes - and we’re good at it. But when we want different results from our hiring practices, then a new approach is warranted. A new approach makes business sense.

As recently described by Bain & Company, in their 2022 Future of Work paper:

… Firms that break down the barriers of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, background, and age in the workplace won’t just be able to tap into historically underrepresented talent pools. They will also improve performance through, for example, reducing group think and unleashing the innovation that comes from incorporating multiple perspectives.

Other research from McKinsey backs this. They found that the most diverse companies had the highest financial results amongst those surveyed. Meanwhile, companies that performed the worst financially were also the least diverse.  In spite of the advantages of diversity, many companies struggle to hire and keep a diverse early career workforce. 

So, What's Wrong With Your Hiring Process? 

Well, nothing really. If you want the same results you’ve always had. 

But consider this: Generation Z (individuals born between 1996 - 2009) are just entering the workforce. They’re digital natives, independent thinkers, want to be entrepreneurs but are ready to work their way up from the bottom. And there are approx. 13 million of them.

A key feature of young workers is that they are more socially aware and motivated by diversity in the workplace. They want to see people who look like them in the organisation that they are about to work for, at all seniority levels. 




7 Ways to align your hiring process towards diversity

1.  Showcase an Inclusive Culture

Everyone in your company must be a strong supporter and believer in diversity, and you should be ready to showcase it to potential candidates. Find employees who are able to talk about their role models within and outside the organisation. Remember, diversity is not just about race, there are many ways to showcase an inclusive culture for any organisation.

Train your recruiters to look out for individuals that think differently from the norm. They may add something unique to your organisation.



2. Broaden Your Search Parameters

To get a diverse candidate pool you will need to source applicants from a wider variety of spaces. The internet and smartphone apps have made it easier to access wider networks of people. Visit different social media spaces and groups to reach applicants from different backgrounds. There are a range of diversity forums (see BBN) and social media groups for candidates from different backgrounds and professions. Your company can be an active member or sponsor for these groups. Attend diversity events to build your awareness and how to attract talent.



3. Obsessively Eliminate Bias 

Modern technology can help with this, if used as a tool and not as a replacement. But be careful what you enter in it. AI is not immune to biases, because the algorithms are designed by humans in the first place. For instance, when screening candidates don’t include school as a parameter, as that may hide a wealth of talent that would have been perfect for your company. Also eliminate bias during the interview process, by having a diverse hiring panel. Each interview panel should ideally have 3 people from different job grades, ethnicities, gender, age groups, etc. Ask each candidate the same questions in the same order. These small details matter, and missing them has the ability to skew results. 



4. Create a Referral Programme 

Another great way to increase diversity at your workplace is to ask current employees to recommend people they know. You could also offer a reward system for employee referrals to encourage diverse recommendations. One watch out with referral programmes is that it has a tendency to attract a narrow range of employees, who further refer from an even narrower range. An assessment of your referral group should help you identify the gaps, and which aspects of diversity you aren’t yet targeting. Finally, give your referral network enough material and talking points to use when they are reaching out to potential candidates.



5. Evaluate your Candidate Experience

Diversity can be a sensitive issue that generates discussions. Many companies get it wrong at the start, which discourages others discussing it. Be transparent about your diversity goals and why you are pursuing them. Even better - show why you may make some mistakes along the way. But you will impress your employees and potential candidates with your commitment to achieving diversity. 



6. Set High Standards From The Beginning

When hiring, you’re being interviewed as well. The potential candidate will be looking for signals on how punctual you are, how organised you are, how you provide feedback etc. It’s essential to work with your recruitment team to set high standards from the beginning. One often neglected area is feedback. Regardless of the result of the interview, it's important to create space for two way feedback, so that candidates can highlight positive or negative aspects of the interview process. You can do this by providing an anonymous survey during and after the interviews. The blind spots in your hiring towards diversity are the ones that will hurt you the most.



7. Partner With the Right Recruitment Companies

Recruitment companies are often the easiest way to find the best candidate for a position. But if you want to hire diverse early career talent you should look for a company that specialises in diverse talent. These companies often have the right networks and a wide pool of candidates to choose from. Another advantage of diverse early talent recruiter companies is that they have the experience and knowledge of how to retain diverse talent.  They can train you and your team on how to make your HR processes more inclusive. 



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