Attracting Diverse Candidates

Attracting Diverse Candidates

Diversity and Inclusion is an ongoing collective effort and cannot be left solely to HR for a tick mark as an initiative.


Diversity and Inclusion are two words highlighted in many organisations that are navigating their talent efforts to develop a culture of inclusivity. It is, however, pertinent to define the exact meaning of Diversity & Inclusion. Factors like gender, age, race, physical disability, sexual orientation or other dimensions that reflect individual differences in humans come under the purview of diversity. These dimensions often cause unconscious bias at the workplace. It is, therefore, essential to remove the imbalance and create equal opportunities for a diverse workforce. The organisation may value diversity, but to live this frame of mind it is essential to develop a culture that embraces diversity. The under-represented groups should feel belonged and this is what can be termed as Inclusion.


Women, physically disabled, LGBTQ, professionals of colour, military veterans, neurodiversity and many more with differences need to be looked through a similar lens as others for assessing skills, knowledge, and performance for eligible jobs. Rejections on the basis of unconscious bias is an unfair practice and injustice in society to those who deserve a better chance. Organisations have a perennial role to play by having a diverse workforce that depicts genuine equality in the workplace. This also boosts productivity, innovation, and employee engagement owing to a variety of talents.


On gender diversity, McKinsey’s 2019 Report, “Diversity Wins: How inclusion matters” - encompassing 15 countries and more than 1,000 large companies stated, “Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile—up from 21 percent in 2017 and 15 percent in 2014.”


What is Diversity Hiring?


To build a diverse workforce, to start with, you need to have an effective hiring plan. The candidate pipeline must have more diverse applications to be considered and evaluated for selection. Building up recruitment processes and practices that ensure that hiring is free from biases for the eligible candidates with differences can be called Diversity Hiring. This does not imply creating a quota or percentage and lowering the bar of quality candidates. This indicates a conscious effort to encourage and provide equal opportunity to apply to those who qualify for the role in terms of education, skills and experience, and are not rejected due to characteristics that bear no relation to their talent or job performance. It is always merit and performance that matters. A team consisting of different types of individuals from diverse backgrounds or experiences would bring positive outcomes for the business.


As per one Harvard Business Review study, “Companies with aboveaverage total diversity, measured as the average of six dimensions of diversity (migration, industry, career path, gender, education, age), had both 19% points higher innovation revenues and 9% points higher EBIT margins, on average.”


How to attract Diverse Candidates?


Modify Job Description: The job description visible to job seekers should be crafted and weaved with words that welcome every qualified candidate to apply without any discrimination signs. Quoting an equal opportunity employer statement is fine, but insufficient to attract diverse candidates until they see it being practised.  


Use Gender-neutral language and avoid gender-specific words in your JD, which may discourage women or others from applying


Focus on must-have and not nice to have with inclusive words like adaptable, creative, instead of ones like aggressive, ninja, superhero, etc.


Never mention race or origin preferences until the job demands so


Highlight benefits like flexible hours, transportation, work from home facility, etc. to attract physical disability candidates, similarly highlight parental leave, child care, flexibility, etc. to attract women candidates


Source mix for diversity candidates: Traditional job boards’ filters of women candidates may help to some extent, but job boards are still to get additional filters on other dimensions. Partner with organisations or groups or communities that support diversity and have a vast network of diverse people you can get connected with. You can align with women career-oriented websites in India like Jobsforher, Koolkanya, womenweb or women tech groups.


For LGBTQ, you can connect with various NGOs or independent groups or attend relevant summits. For military veterans, you can connect with Armed Forces for retiring officials or veteran groups. For people with disabilities, you can connect with care centres and likewise. Sponsor events or relevant conferences that support diversity groups. Increase your outreach and connect or network with the target audience to attract them to apply in your organisation by pitching them at places where they are more comfortable.


Employee Referrals: Communicate to your employees on how committed you are to ensuring diversity at your workplace. Apart from external branding as a diversity and inclusion workplace, it would be best to create awareness among your employees to change the stereotyped frame of mind. Make the diversity preference jobs visible to internal employees and encourage referring diverse candidates with attractive referral schemes.


Leverage Technology: With advancements in technology, AI-backed ATS is gaining traction for screening, matching, and ranking candidates who apply through ATS. This will help remove human bias at the top of the funnel for shortlisting candidates for further process and give an equal platform to all. With a combination of technology and human touch, diverse talent can get an edge in hiring.


Employer Branding: Let the world know your sincere intentions to have an inclusive workforce representing diversity and how you cherish the same in the employee life cycle. The storytelling of your valuable, diverse employees through videos, employee testimonials, career pages, website blogs, LinkedIn Company pages, etc., will help get the attention of diverse candidates.


E.g. June being the Pride month for LGBTQ + community, most of the organisations turned their logo to colours as solidarity with this community. It represented their belief in diversity and inclusion at the workplace too, giving signals that they are welcomed. Highlight women working at your organisation and tell their stories on how organisations help to strike a balance. Walk the talk. Your recruitment marketing efforts should have adverts focussed on brand communication which inspires diversity candidates to apply and feel belonged.


Hire Interns from diversity groups


Create and offer internships to people from diverse/under-represented groups. Contact interested colleges and ask for help to publicise internship opportunities to give a sneak peek into your inclusive work culture.


Diversity hiring is just the tip of the iceberg. The real challenge is to retain a diverse workforce through organisation-wide inclusive culture as per unique needs with a zero-tolerance policy towards any discrimination. Diversity and Inclusion is an ongoing collective effort and cannot be left solely to HR for a tick mark as an initiative.


According to “Elevating Equity: The Real Story of Diversity and Inclusion,” Josh Bersin’s report on D & I, “The most successful companies see DEI not as an HR program, but as a business strategy with vocal leadership commitment, the right metrics, and broad-based local accountability for results.” Implementing D & I at the workplace requires strong leadership accountability and capability; and drive to changes systems, processes, learnings, behaviours, and policies to support D & I. It is only then organisations will be able to see D & I at the workplace.


Nidhi Negi Dixit is a qualified HR professional with over 9 years of experience in Talent Acquisition and general Human Resource Management. She has extensive experience in Leadership hiring with companies like Teleperformance, NGA Human Resources and Lanco Infratech. Nidhi completed her MBA – HR from IBS, Hyderabad.


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