5 Tips to Build Inclusivity in Your Hiring Process

Hitting diversity hiring quotas can be challenging – even for companies that have the best of intentions. But before you toss your hiring quota out the door citing “pipeline problems,” take another look at your diversity hiring process and ask yourself, is my diversity hiring process inclusive? 

While recruitment is usually focused on the diversity side of D&I (Diversity and Inclusion), an inclusive hiring process has the potential to increase your diverse candidate pool (hello pipeline!) and impact how many diverse candidates stick with you, or drop off.

To give your diversity hiring quotas their best shot, here are five tips to get you started.

#1. Find your “Why” and Do It the Inclusive Way

Chief Inclusion Officer, Kristin Bower from Kristin Bower Consulting maintains that in order for your diversity quotas to work, “There has to be a clear connection to the ‘why’. Why are these quotas important? It is not about men versus women, it is about what’s in it for everybody.”  For your team to connect authentically to that “why,” Kristin recommends an inclusive process to discover why diversity hiring is important to your teams by using tools such as focus groups.

Effectively run, safe, and diverse focus groups can help your team members share their voice and increase their commitment to diversity hiring. And a committed hiring team is also more likely to become ambassadors for positive recruitment change.

Tip #1: Make sure to frame your diversity “why” with language that refers to the opportunity that diversity and inclusion will provide. Data shows that focusing on the problem, such as the need to fix things because “a certain group is underrepresented increases negative reactions.”

#2. Talent Referral Programs Are Better If They Are Carried by Everyone.

Only asking your diverse populations for diversity referrals puts too narrow a focus on your recruitment marketing efforts and can “tokenize,” offend, or even overwhelm your diverse team members. Instead, take a more inclusive approach and harness the collective power of your current team, former team, clients, and extended community along with your diverse team members to yield better quota results. 

Make utilizing this larger network easier with the help of talent referral technology such as Weevr. Not only can technology help you reach more people faster, but you can say thank you with rewards for sharing job posts and candidates garnering successful interviews.

#3. Inclusive Interviewers and Recruiters

This point cannot be understated. The amount of inclusivity your hiring team creates in your hiring process can make or break your quotas. Countless stories abound of diverse, sought-after candidates straddling multiple job offers and deferring to the opportunity that felt more inclusive over the rock star gig with the lackluster hiring process. Here are some ideas to build inclusive recruitment skills in your hiring team:

Training: Train on basic Q&A interviewing skills (behavioural, situational, conversational questions), biases, EQ skills, body language, how to decline candidates, transferable skills, human rights, and employee experience best practices. Make sure to avoid one-and-done training and incorporate refreshers every six months to a year. Better still, train-the-trainer programs that have stellar non-recruiter interviewers train new interviewers on inclusive recruitment can reinforce and scale this learning across your organization.

Professional Development: In the spirit of continuous improvement and professional development, partner with your interviewing teams to audit interviews; provide constructive feedback that enables interviewers to get better at their interviewing craft. Most candidates will be happy to see the extra person in the room helping interviewers grow their skills. In fact, this process can be seen by your diverse candidates as an example of the company’s commitment not only to a better, inclusive hiring process but also to professional development. 

#4. Create an Inclusive, Belonging-Infused Candidate Experience

Instead of treating candidates of any skill level as a number, infuse “belonging” into your recruitment process and, wherever possible, build processes that see your candidates as a whole person. Recruiters skilled at building and maintaining human connections are critical to diversity hiring quotas and an inclusive, belonging-focused candidate experience. 

An example of an inclusive candidate experience initiative is an interview process that listens to what a candidate values, captures those sentiments, and incorporates those values into the offer letter. 

Note: Connection can sometimes take a bit more time, and too much time taken in a recruitment process can be the grim reaper of diversity hiring quotas – let alone any hiring targets. Wherever possible, look to automate administrative-heavy hiring processes that do not compromise connection, and make your case to secure funding for coordination support.

#5. Where Appropriate, Increase Transparency on Your Hiring Process

Diverse candidates and candidates, in general, don’t enjoy herding like cattle through an unknown, highly vulnerable experience such as interviewing. Increase the chances of hitting your diversity hiring quotas by making the recruitment process (where appropriate) visible, letting candidates know details regarding what to expect on your careers page. 

Transparency and even the trustworthiness of your hiring process can also be increased by first surveying your candidates on the inclusiveness of their experience. Once that data is collected, report these survey results with any improvement action plans back to candidates before Glassdoor beats you to it.

Final Tips

Tip #2: While it may seem obvious, it pays to make sure that your diverse hiring quotas reflect what the market and education programs support. For example, your diversity hiring may focus on visible minorities in STEM (science, technology, education mathematics), and your research turns up data that shows only 13% of the STEM market and education system consists of visible minorities. With this information, you may need to adjust your hiring quota temporarily. 

Tip #3: Also note that most diverse candidates will be attracted to companies that align with their values. Stephanie Redivo, Senior Director, Inclusive Culture, Global D&I Office at SAP cautions that “diverse candidates may not resonate with certain products and companies that have products they do not relate to.” Video games companies may not resonate to women, nor do makeup companies appeal to many male populations. Marketing efforts that showcase (but do not tokenize) efforts made to make the work environment diverse and inclusive regardless of the product’s appeal to different populations will be vital to meeting diversity hiring quotas.


For more support on Diversity and Inclusion overall, have a look at our extensive list of D&I resources here. And for additional tips on increasing the diversity of your candidates, feel free to have a read of our other post, 5 Tips to Increase Candidate Diversity.

And don’t forget – if your company successfully creates and meets solid diversity hiring quotas, make sure to share these successes with the community! Run your PR efforts by focus groups of your diverse team members and spread the word. Modelling best practices for other companies is going to be necessary if we are to speed D&I up thoughtfully and close the gap on equality.