Increasing the diversity of your candidate pool is not just a responsible way for businesses to operate. Diversity hiring also has discernable business advantages such as increasing innovation and providing access to deeper insights across your customer or client base. Diversity hiring also provides additional candidates to choose from in a market where the demand for skilled talent far outstrips the supply. 

But many companies still struggle to incorporate diversity into their hiring initiatives  – why?

One of the main reasons is that most highly skilled candidates do not want to be hired for reasons other than their skills and potential. Reactive, diversity hiring initiatives may not take into account some of the sensitivities required to avoid such pitfalls. 

To increase your candidate diversity and realize the mutual benefits this workforce offers, here are 5 tips for you. These tips are geared predominantly towards STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) roles, but you can use them across many other roles and industries.

* Note: While this article focuses on candidate diversity, it is important to note that diversity is one half of the diversity and Inclusion equation. A non-inclusive work environment that doesn’t embrace diverse hires will increase your numbers of attrition hiring. For a deeper dive on the “Inclusion” side of diversity and inclusion, check out this paper by Deloitte.

 

The 5 Tips to Increase Candidate Diversity are:

#1. Use Blind Screening to Address Bias

In 1952, the Boston Symphony Orchestra made history when they pioneered blind auditions to address the concept that women musicians were not as skilled as their male counterparts. Harvard and Princeton researchers found that women musicians were not only just as good as men but with blind auditions, women were even slightly more likely to be hired. Today, many companies in multiple industries are using similar blind hiring processes and augmenting them with technology.

In a blind hiring process, make sure to have a systematic process in place ahead of time to address bias as it is easy for bias to sneak in and impact your hiring decisions.

Common areas that blind hiring is utilized include:

  • Blind candidate screening: Recruiting software such as Blendoor can help you block out your candidate’s surface demographic characteristics.
  • Blind pre-hire testing: This includes testing such as anonymized coding challenges and personality assessments. Gapjumpers is a technology that encourages you to toss the resume and use only their assessments and challenges.

Anonymized written Q&A interviews or recruitment chat bot interviewers have made some progress for blind interviewing, but the jury is still out as to their effectiveness in evaluating for highly-skilled roles.

 

#2. Rework Job Descriptions

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology revealed that women are less likely to apply to jobs with descriptions that use masculine words. Women are also less likely to apply if they do not meet 100% of the listed requirements (as opposed to 60% for men). Reworking your job descriptions to be inclusive and succinct is no small thing, but technology such as Textio Hire, or the Gender Decoder tool can help you speed things up.

 

#3. Implement Structured Interviewing Processes

While we crave interviews that are spontaneous conversations, we are full of biases that can hamper diversity hiring initiatives. Common biases include preferring people similar to us (similarity bias), or disqualifying the candidate wholly based on what we feel was one bad thing (horns effect). 

A structured interview program does not have to be robotic and rigid. With in-depth interview training and practice, hiring teams can develop interviewing proficiency that balances the structured approach with a genuinely positive candidate experience.

 

#4. Invest In Long-Term Diversity Initiatives

As early on as possible, partner with your local colleges and universities to share your company leadership as teachers, mentors or sponsors of school programs and program creation. Companies can influence not only curriculum but also the lack of belonging diverse populations may experience as students. Diverse candidate pools will increase if students feel like they belong in STEM curriculums. 

Don’t forget to broaden your program past traditional schools and cultivate relationships with colleges or universities that have larger diverse populations.

 

#5. Utilize Talent Referral Technology to Increase Speed and Access to Pools of Diverse Talent

As many companies are looking to increase the diversity of their skilled workforce, the ability to find more diverse candidates quickly is vital. Talent referral technology such as Weevr.io increases the exposure to diverse candidate populations by soliciting referrals not just from current employees, but former staff, contractors, partners, and more. 

Note: Make sure to invite all populations to refer diverse candidates. Leaning only on your diverse employees for referrals may make some of your diverse talent feel like  “poster children” who are being used to lure diverse candidates into fulfilling quotas.

 

Conclusion

Creating a culturally sensitive diversity hiring initiative takes a good deal of pre-work and consideration. In the absence of a Diversity and Inclusion Specialist to guide your initiative design, some companies meet with their diverse team members one-on-one, capturing, and implementing what matters to them. Not only does this increase your chances of creating successful diversity hiring, but your initiative will most likely be more authentic and inclusive too.