How to Hire a Diverse Workforce in 3 Steps

How To Successfully Hire For Diversity

You want a workplace that reflects your community and your client or customer base. Maybe you already have a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) plan in place. If you’re like many organizations, though, trying to figure out how to hire a diverse workforce is a separate challenge. How can you make sure you’re hiring the right people, attracting diverse candidates, and creating a hiring process that makes job seekers feel welcome? There are three steps you need to take.

1. Pay Attention to Bias

If you want to understand how to hire a more diverse workforce, you’ll need to grapple with bias.

Here’s the bad news: we all have unconscious bias. It’s not a moral failing. Research shows that our brains are wired to notice anything threatening, and, for much of our history anything different from us has been dangerous. Even when we’re genuinely good people and when we know diversity is a positive thing, we’re still biased. The problem is made worse by cultural portrayals that teach us to view groups in certain lights, too.

Now for some good news: While we’re all biased, there is something we can do about it. We can stay aware and work to minimize the damage bias can do. In the hiring process, especially, tackling any prejudice can make a big impact by creating diverse workplaces where more people can thrive. There are a few ways to make your own hiring process fairer.

  • Gather metrics. The first step to hiring for diversity is to identify the gaps. How diverse is your workplace & where can improvement happen? Do you have too few women in leadership positions? Do you have too few people of color in your organization overall? You can work with Diversio to quickly gather, analyze, & benchmark data so you get an accurate picture of diversity in your workplace. This gives you a starting point for your hiring decisions.
  • Set targets for diversity. Once you understand what diversity at your workplace looks like, decide who you want to hire & why. With your leadership or DEI team, discuss the benefits of greater diversity & the type of diversity you want to see. For example, are you less diverse than others in your industry when it comes to team members living with a disability? Or is your team not reflecting your customers? If your customers include people of color & your team includes a balance of men & women but no people of color, this may direct your goals for hiring.
  • Put together a diverse hiring team. When your hiring team reflects the type of diversity you want to see at your organization, you can work together to create a welcoming place for all talent. A diverse team that’s empowered to speak up can also help you uncover & address any bias in your job ads, recruiting, or hiring process. They can help uncover hidden pain points that keep you from attracting more talent.

2. Standardize Your Hiring Processes

On the one hand, you want to apply the same criteria to each candidate. This creates equity and can protect your organization from accusations of discriminatory hiring practices. On the other hand, you need some flexibility so you’re not disqualifying great candidates because they don’t quite fit into your rigid process. Here’s how to hire a more diverse workforce by striking the right balance.

  • Create objective hiring criteria. You may have a preconceived idea of what you want in a worker. You might be thinking of the last candidate who filled the role well or who you think might be great for a position. This can mean you automatically write down requirements like “must have a college degree.” But step back & think about what the job duties are & which skills & achievements you really need workers to have. Do you need a college graduate or someone who knows coding? Do you need someone who is a “digital native” or someone who can use your project management software? Since women tend to apply for jobs only when they meet 100% of the required criteria & men tend to apply when they meet 60% of the criteria, you may encourage more gender diversity — & other diversity, too — by narrowing your list of requirements to what matters most.
  • Use neutral language. When writing job ads, use inclusive language. For example, words like “competitive,” & “dominant” are less attractive for women job seekers than words like “interpersonal.” Words like “young team” or “high energy, fast-paced” can feel less welcoming to older job seekers while descriptions of physical requirements can make candidates living with disabilities feel disqualified. Go through your job ads & recruiting materials & carefully check every phrase. Ask yourself, “Is the language I am using excluding qualified candidates?” Include a fair hiring statement in job ads. Mentioning your commitment to DEI can also highlight to job seekers that you’re working on creating a welcoming workplace.
  • Take out identifying information on resumes. Research shows that typical “white” names get 50% more requests for interviews when compared with names considered to be “ethnic.” So when it’s time to start reviewing job applications, remove GPAs, colleges attended, names, & any candidate photos. This lets you review talent based on merits. It also helps you avoid making judgments based on unconscious bias.
  • Consider what happens after hiring. You don’t want to hire just for diversity. You want to attract & retain great talent. Create an onboarding process that builds a diverse team & integrates new team members smoothly. Ask for feedback from employees about things that need to change to create a better workplace. Work on making your workspaces accessible & welcoming, while implementinga DEI strategy which builds a more equitable & inclusive workplace, not only a diverse one.

3. Recruit For Diversity

Once you’ve defined your goals and created a process for hiring, it’s time to start looking for candidates. If you recruit the same way you have in the past, you’ll create the same teams. Here’s how to invite equity and diversity in:

  • Consider where you advertise. Look for online forums & job boards with candidates from a variety of backgrounds. If you’re attending job fairs or college campuses, attend events with a stated commitment to DEI & a diverse collection of applicants.
  • Work with DEI-committed recruiters. If you rely on recruiters, work with those who have a clear commitment to DEI & who can show you that they have successfully attracted job applicants of all abilities, backgrounds, nationalities, races, genders, & ages.
  • Rethink networking. If there is more diversity among your teams than among your leadership, consider opportunities to offer mentorships & other support so you can promote internally. Or offer internships to candidates in underrepresented groups. If you’re heading to networking events, look for ones that foster a diverse community within their membership.

How to Legally Hire a Diverse Workforce

There are a few considerations that need to be considered when trying to diversify your workforce legally:

  • Eliminate discrimination
  • Set hiring targets
  • Don’t harm non-targeted groups

Federal laws make it illegal to base hiring, promotion, firing, and other employment decisions on protected characteristics, such as gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, and other characteristics. It might be helpful to seek legal counsel to ensure you’re following local policies in your region.

If you’re in the United States, Congress, the Supreme Court, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Council (EEOC) have each confirmed affirmative action. This means you can set goals to hire a certain number of workers from protected groups where they are underrepresented.

A legal inclusive hiring practice:

  • Must be reviewed
  • Has to be a temporary measure meant to address an inequity
  • Must only consider candidates who are qualified for the job

There are some limits, though. The hiring practices can’t harm non-targeted groups and can’t include rigid numbers. So, for example, you can’t exclude men from consideration for a role or decide the next ten hires will only come from a specific ethnic group.

How & Why to Hire a Diverse Workforce

85% of CEOs polled reported that diverse teams have improved their bottom line. Diverse teams can bring a wealth of ideas and innovations to the table, and the more diverse your team, the more included new team members may feel.

If you’re facing challenges in hiring and DEI, you don’t have to solve these issues alone. Diversio can help. As the first AI-powered DEI platform, we’re The Diversity Data Experts™. We can help you gather, analyze, and benchmark data. Our Recommendation Engine™ can offer field-tested recommendations for the next steps to improve DEI at your organization. If you’re interested in attracting talent, Diversio Certification gives you a third-party, public-facing way to show your commitment to diversity. We also offer Diversio Training to help you build an organization where people want to work.

DEI is a journey and Diversio can be there with you every step of the way, with proven and data-driven methods that have been proven to work. Try a demo today to see for yourself how Diversio can shape your DEI efforts.

Diversio DEI Expert
Diversio DEI Expert
Diversio's DEI expert shares everything about diversity that you need to know.
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Head of EDI, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research

Diversio helps companies become 43% more profitable and reduce employee turnover by 23%

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