5 Key Steps to Enhancing Diversity in Recruitment

Updated: Feb 18, 2020

Increased workplace diversity improves staff morale, creativity and innovation.

It increases employee satisfaction and delivers improvements across key outputs and performance indicators across the business.

Research has shown that improving diversity has a marked effect on a business brand, showing that customers want to buy from diverse and inclusive businesses.

Embedding diversity into recruitment is a key step to increasing diversity and developing inclusion

It is important to embed diversity into recruitment processes.

Many companies have made efforts to improve their recruitment processes, to boost workplace diversity and increase employee satisfaction.

However, many have found it a challenging process, not least in finding ways to build a diverse candidate pool.

HR and Recruiting Managers can become frustrated when, for all their efforts, those applying for positions are from the same cultural and social backgrounds as the current workforce.

This article looks at this in more detail and makes suggestions on 5 ways to build diversity into your recruitment process.

1. Goal Setting

Recruiting to increase diversity starts with a holistic analysis of your organisations current demographics. It includes a baseline measure that assesses the policies, practices and benefits that are available to employees. It measures process functionality.

Understanding the baseline measure of your process, will help you to set specific and measurable goals, which can be modified over tome as you increase diversity.

This allows a recruitment manager to measure efforts and achievements, over time, and analyse the journey towards inclusive recruitment.

Goal setting is the start of developing a successful diversity recruitment strategy

Recruiting in the same way as has been done previously will not increase diversity. Simply advertising on diversity job boards will not increase diversity.

The process of recruiting diversely cannot be achieved by doing things as ‘they have always been done before.’

A genuine commitment to build a diverse workforce and embed inclusion is the start of the process.

There has to be a clear understanding of the goals the organisation wants to achieve. Effective recruitment planning must be about more than meeting and exceeding self-imposed quotas. This serves only to increase visible diversity across the organisation.

Diversity recruitment is about developing and retaining diversity across the business. Processes for embedding inclusion, go hand in hand with effective diversity recruitment and must be aligned to your plan.

Merely having a good recruitment plan does not mean that you will have a good retention of diverse staff.

Always ensure that your diversity recruitment goals are SMART and include processes to review and measure progress.

Set SMART diversity recruitment goals

Employers need to start by asking themselves what they want to achieve with their plan.

It needs to be more than simply meeting self-imposed quotas; to maintain a diverse workforce, inclusion efforts must be part of the plan as well.

A good hiring plan doesn't equal a good retention plan.

You can read more about the importance of embedding inclusion into the process in a previous post 'Diversity is Not A Numbers Game'

2. Redefining candidate sources

Relying on your current sources may not net the results you seek. You will need to cast a wider net in order to attract diverse candidates.

Creating strategic relationships with minority ethnic businesses, schools and colleges and community organisations and/or advertising in relevant press or social media groups, can yield dividends when trying to increase diverse candidates.

Having a presence at recruitment, careers fairs etc can be helpful. However, these activities rarely develop a sustained approached to diversity recruitment if they are done as one off, or infrequent actions.

They may help to source a few candidates but should be done in isolation.

Engaging diverse candidates is the principal activity within your recruitment strategy

Diverse candidates can be sourced by engagement with communities through effective engagement with community groups and via social media.

Creating sustainable relationships with communities you wish to engage is important to accessing diverse candidates.

It helps your business, and industry, to become relevant in the minds of the community.

Cultivating relationships with communities can be achieved through social media, radio and television.

It is important to note that many communities, for example people with disabilities, Black and Ethnic Minority (BAME), LGBT, older people, women's groups and Armed Forces have their own groups that provide a good starting point for engagement.

They also provide a good starting point for raising awareness about your industry.

3. Be wary of Unconscious Bias!

It is easy to engage with a candidate that shares your cultural attributes, values, race, gender, educational background and other characteristics.

However, recruiting personnel must understand that this is where unconscious bias can perpetuate systemic discrimination.

Recruitment and HR personnel, indeed anyone involved in the hiring of staff, should receive training on unconscious bias.

Unconscious bias has a negative impact on an organisation's ability to recruit fairly and attract a diverse candidate base. It also has the potential to damage brand image, reputation and trust.

By recognising how biases can negatively affect the recruitment process, those involved in the process can avoid unconscious bias in their decision making.

It is important to note that overcoming unconscious bias is key to developing effective and inclusive recruitment.

Everyone involved in recruitment should have training on Unconscious Bias

The use of redacted CV’s is helpful to increasing the diversity of applicants.

Blind recruitment software reduces bias by removing non essential information.

This can include names, gender references, and often, dates of employment and education in order to mitigate the chances of making unconscious assumptions.

Prior to posting job advertisements, it is preferable to check the advertisement with diverse members of staff. This will ensure that the author of the listing is not unwittingly using language, that may lessen the response of any particular group or community.

If your current employee base, lacks the required diversity to enable this process, you may outsource it to another organisation.

When your staff diversity improves, you can consider setting up a staff diversity network to assist with this process.

Read our post on Diversity Networks.

4. Brand analysis

In today’s internet environment, it is important to curate an online presence that is appealing to a wide audience.

Whether diversity recruitment agenda is well established or you are at the early stages of your journey, it is important to build diversity into your brand.

There is no point embarking on a process of diverse recruitment, if when successful, recruits do not feel included in your organisation.

Your branding must speak to your commitment to diversity. You must ensure that all your messaging speaks to your goals.

Showing a genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion promotes your business brand

Embedding your commitment to diversity into your corporate and recruitment messaging is a good way to promote your brand.

Merely stating a commitment to diversity is not enough. It is preferable to outline this commitment in detail.

Give clear examples of systems currently in place to support staff engagement, individual creativity and value, and diversity systems.

The presentation of your online persona is crucial to talent acquisition. Your commitment must resonate with candidates from a range of groups.

A key reflection of your commitment of diversity is the diversity of your leadership team. The makeup of the leadership team will be something that potential candidates look at when making a decision on whether to apply for a position.

A diverse leadership is testament to your diversity commitment.

A diverse leadership team can be is testament to your commitment to diversity. However, it does not necessarily mean that your business is inclusive!

Candidates need to feel that they are joining an organisation that is supportive of diversity and one in which they can, with hard work, reach the highest levels.

Put simply, people want to see people in leadership who look like them. This builds confidence in your business and negates the possibility of candidates viewing your diversity statement and stated commitment as ' the usual diversity rhetoric'.