Diversity recruiting strategies companies use to fuel their workforce


Diversity recruiting is one of the biggest recruiting challenges. According to a LinkedIn survey, 38% of the participants believe finding diverse candidates is the most significant barrier to improving diversity in the workplace. 

Statistics on barrier in improving diversity in the workplace

So far, only a few companies have successfully adopted the right diversity recruiting strategies. More and more employers are taking initiatives to diversify their workforce, thus revisiting their hiring process and changing their talent acquisition strategies.

How did diversity recruiting strategies evolve to change talent acquisition worldwide?

The idea of diversity recruiting originated in 1960. The law instituted that people who are academically and physically qualified must get the opportunity to obtain jobs without discrimination. However, including underrepresented communities was only a symbolic effort. Later, it was recognised as a social justice model. Including people outside the dominant group was the right thing to do. 

Today, however, companies that do not have a diverse workforce are seen as a deficit of a competitive team that can drive business. The diversity initiative is sold as a business. And companies that fail to develop a diverse workforce invite lower productivity and higher employee turnover. 

The idea of having a diverse workforce is associated with several other benefits:

  1. A thriving workplace.
  2. Less likely to face unionisation.
  3. Effectively communicating with customers from all walks of life.
Diversity hire

Major areas that employers address in developing a diverse workforce include:

  • Gender
  • Colour
  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Physical ability
  • Religious beliefs

How are employers working these days towards building a diverse workforce?

Talent acquisition strategies employers use to drive success in diversity hiring include:

1. Widening talent pool with diverse candidates

Employers across the globe are working to build a talent pool of diverse candidates. They do it by:

Creating an unbiased ideal candidate persona

Candidate persona

Look at the current employees to draw an ideal candidate persona. Define their personality traits and skills, not biases like gender, age, religious beliefs, and sexual orientation.

Setting clear diversity recruiting goals

With diversity on top of their mind, employers track their DEI recruitment goals to measure achievements. 

Consider setting clear, data-driven goals for each recruitment drive to make up for the deficit in diversity goals. For instance, when you have a job vacancy, your DEI recruitment goals could be sourcing 20 candidates in the age group of 30-40, 30 female candidates and so on.

Being proactive in sourcing candidates with diverse backgrounds

Even when there is no vacancy, recruiters proactively search for candidates to diversify their talent pool for future roles. Send outreach messages to underrepresented groups who are also a “good fit” for roles across departments.

2. Diversifying job boards for job posting

Posting job ads on top job boards like Monster, LinkedIn, Naukri and Indeed has a good chance of attracting candidates from diverse backgrounds. However, recruiters consider posting jobs on niche job boards to meet diversity goals. For example, PowerToFly and work180 are popular women-focused job boards. Xceptional is another job site for hiring neurodiverse people.

PowerToFly - A-niche-job-board-for-female-candidates
PowerToFly – A niche job board for female candidates

3. Addressing recruitment biases

Employers have become proactive in identifying and addressing recruitment biases, encouraging shortlisting candidates based on work samples and skills tests, not appearance, gender and age. Some of the initiatives include:

Educational training to eliminate unconscious bias 

Biases held by recruitment teams against candidates negatively impact diversity efforts. Employers encourage education and training for recruitment teams and hiring managers to help them identify and eliminate unconscious beliefs about different social groups.

Writing job descriptions that appeal to diverse candidates

Recruiters consider using augmented writing tools to eliminate bias. They analyse your job description and suggest changes to avoid sounding biased in creating job descriptions.

For example, removing gender biassed words from job descriptions attracts both male and female candidates and diverse job applicants. 

Also, removing words associated with racial bias, LGBTQ bias, age bias, and disability bias helps accelerate diversity initiatives.

Blind resume review 

To avoid unconscious bias creeping into the resume review process, recruiters adopt several tactics:

  • Anonymising the applicant’s resume – taking photos, names and other details out of the resume which may lead to bias.
  • Ensuring a diverse recruitment team, educated and trained to eliminate bias from the recruitment process, review the resume.

Also, a few companies are taking a different approach, wherein they don’t ask candidates to send resumes. Keepsafe is one such company that hires candidates based on their demonstration of projects they build. 

In 2015, another company, Return Path, took the initiative to diversify its workforce. They wanted women candidates for technical roles. To avoid bias creeping into their hiring process, they redirected applicants to another site, asking them to participate in a challenge. Evaluation and shortlisting were based on their scores without identifying their name, gender and appearance.

Deciding interview panel that include diverse members 

A diverse interview panel brings different perspectives. It helps recruiters eliminate biases in making hiring decisions. 

To ensure an unbiased interview process, employers consider creating a panel of diverse members. They start by acknowledging the current scenario of diversity recruiting and identifying potential bias. It helps them create an interview panel of members of different orientations and opinions.

4. Highlighting diversity in employer branding campaigns

Companies with diversity initiatives massively contribute to strengthening their employer branding. It positively impacts candidates in making a perception of your company. They see you as an employer who provides equal opportunity to everyone to work, learn, grow and contribute to the company’s growth irrespective of gender, caste, religion, colour and sexual orientation. 

Tech giants like Facebook, Microsoft and Google share their diversity and inclusion reports to amplify their reputation as employers.

Google’s diversity and inclusion initiatives

Nike uses their career page and social channels to highlight their efforts in building a diverse workforce. In their campaign “Until We All Win“, Nike further amplified its diversity and inclusion initiatives, showcasing the journey of indigenous athletes, artists and healers in Nike.

Also, Nike uses their career page to highlight PwD employees’ life and engagement programs.

Applicants find it appealing when they know you are an equal-opportunity employer.

Recruitment best practices of top 3 companies for diversity and inclusion

Let us look at the diversity recruiting strategies of top companies with a diverse workforce:

1. Accenture 

Accenture’s CEO

Accenture uses several initiatives to diversify its workforce. Their focus areas have been gender equality, ethnic and racial diversity, mental health and wellness and inclusion of PwD and the LGBTIQ+ community. Other notable initiatives include:

Equal pay for equal work

Accenture conducts annual pay equity reviews to highlight that they have equal pay for equal work policy by gender, race and ethnicity.

Initiative to learn Indian sign language

Globally, Accenture has over 36000 employees that belong to the PwD group. In India alone, it has more than 6000 employees belonging to the PwD group. Accenture’s initiative of inclusion through Indian sign language is a crucial step to boost the confidence of PwD candidates to join Accenture’s diverse workforce.

2. Mastercard

Mastarcard’s CEO

So far, Mastercard has undertaken several initiatives to diversify its workforce. Equal opportunity for military veterans, disabled, LGBTQIA+ and other underrepresented communities. Some notable initiatives include-

Equal pay for men and women

Mastercard uses its initiative of equal pay for men and women in the same role to attract women candidates.  They share their annual pay equity analysis reflecting women earning $1.00 to every $1 men earn. 

Project Oorja

It is Mastercard’s other talent acquisition initiative for diversity in the workplace. This project creates job opportunities for working women on a break.  

Girls4Tech program

Under this program, Mastercard reaches out to young girls and inspires them to pursue technical roles. So far, they have reached out to 1 million young girls globally, intending to reach 5 million by 2025.

3. Abbott

Abbott maintains diversity in the workforce through several initiatives for disabled, African-Americans, Asians and military veterans. Abbott’s other notable initiatives include-

Pride Network

Abbott hires lesbians, gay, transgender people, bisexuals and LGBTQA candidates. It aims to promote leadership among such communities and represent them at executive levels.

Women in STEM Network

Abbott uses peer networking to attract women candidates. They unite women and conduct professional development sessions to motivate them to take up roles in technical fields. The agenda of Abbott’s Women in STEM Network is to elevate women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to bridge the diversity gap in the workplace.

Organisations across the globe are prioritising a diverse work culture. The idea of benefiting from diversity and inclusion largely influences the recruitment strategies of companies of all sizes. The above-discussed DEI recruitment practices highlight how bold initiatives and aggressive implementation of diversity programs shape the recruitment process. It requires companies to rethink their recruitment process, optimising it at various stages to tap into candidates from diverse backgrounds.

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