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3 Things Recruiters Can Do to Boost Diversity and Inclusion

3 Things Recruiters Should Do to Boost Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity has become an urgent topic of discussion over the last few years, thanks to social movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter. Naturally, this is an issue that extends to the workplace. We spend so much of our lives at work — and our ability to live comfortably is tied directly to the paychecks we receive from our employers. There’s an obvious need to ensure that everyone is getting the same opportunities, regardless of background.

Beyond that, there are clear benefits to building a diverse team at work. Diverse companies tend to have higher cash flow per employee, for example. In other words: If hiring is an investment, diverse organizations see a better ROI than their non-diverse counterparts.

A diverse workforce also brings to the table a much wider set of viewpoints from employees with various social, cultural, ethnic, and gender experiences. This broader perspective can be a powerful force when making decisions about company strategy.

With these powerful benefits, it’s hard to argue against building a more diverse hiring practice. Of course, actually manifesting diversity can be a real challenge, especially if your company has never made it a priority before. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Determine Your Metrics

You’ve probably heard of SMART goals before. This goal-setting framework says that each objective should be:

This can be a valuable framework for setting diversity recruiting goals. For example, let’s say you want to increase the number of project managers in a given department who hail from an underrepresented ethnicity. That’s your goal. To make it specific, you might target a 25 percent increase. This gives you a number to aim for, and you can then look at what needs to be done to get there. This goal is measurable, achievable, and relevant — and once you set a deadline, it will be time-bound, too.

The SMART framework helps because it makes your diversity recruiting goals concrete, and it gives you a clear idea of precisely what you’re aiming to accomplish. Studies also show that writing down goals increases your chances of success by up to 33 percent, so simply setting SMART goals can help you get closer to building a diverse workforce.

Expand Your Available Pool of Diverse Candidates

Building a large enough candidate pool is one of the biggest challenges companies face when embarking on intentional diversity recruiting initiatives. Depending on the industry and geographical location you’re working with, the standard talent pool may not be very diverse at all.

If you’re in the American Midwest, for example, you might have to get creative. Data shows that vast swatches of the central US are predominantly white. The same can hold true for digital spaces, too. If your LinkedIn audience isn’t diverse, you’ll have a tough time finding diverse candidates by promoting your open jobs on LinkedIn.

If you find yourself in an industry or location where most of your candidates share the same general demographic background, you’ll need to proactively cast your hiring net wider to reach a more diverse talent pool. You can’t just wait for candidates from underrepresented groups to apply without altering your recruiting processes.

Luckily, there are tools designed to overcome this specific obstacle. Diversity recruiting platforms like Joonko, Canvas, and Circa help organizations reach broader pools of underrepresented candidates, thereby making the common “we just can’t find diverse employees” rationale obsolete.

Ensure Your Hiring Team Is as Diverse as the Workforce You Want to Build

Hiring for diversity is going to be a lot tougher if your hiring team itself isn’t diverse. Consider pulling together a diversity recruiting team made up of employees from different departments and different backgrounds.

For some companies, this may not be possible. Your organization might be launching a diversity recruiting initiative because it currently lacks any meaningful diversity — which would make it hard to build a diverse hiring team. If that’s your situation, you have options. One of the best is employee training.

Thanks to diversity’s status as a top-of-mind discussion topic, a tremendous amount of diversity-focused training is now available to organizations. For example, Microsoft offers an online course on unconscious bias. Most e-learning platforms, like Coursera, provide similar training opportunities. Training courses can go a long way in helping even a monocultural hiring team successfully engage a more diverse pool of candidates.

It should be noted that diversity training is a contested topic unto itself. Research is mixed regarding whether it’s actually effective. However, offering training specifically to your hiring team may well produce results since this team has already been tasked with the explicit goal of increasing diversity. That should make them a much more receptive audience with a real stake in applying what they learn.

These days, there is a lot of external pressure for companies to build diverse workforces. While the task can be daunting, the increased attention paid to diversity has also driven the creation of an enormous number of tools and resources to help organizations achieve their diversity goals. The pressure may be on — but it’s also never been easier to meet that bar.

Vikas Agrawal is a startup investor and cofounder of

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