Building a Comprehensive Diversity Recruiting Strategy

May 26, 2021 – Building an effective diversity recruiting strategy requires commitment, a sound strategy, and most importantly, perseverance. Developing a diversity recruiting strategy that is sustainable is about more than which job boards you subscribe to or the candidate discovery tools you use. “At the executive level, a diversity referral program and diverse interview teams can be effective, but only if you have a diverse executive team in place to make these strategies impactful,” said Brian P. Moorhouse, founding principal at Mirador Talent Consulting. “Although these programs can be effective, they have little chance of sustainability without strong fundamentals in place to support short- and long-term success.”

A comprehensive diversity recruiting strategy is less about a quick and immediate impact and more about perseverance and influence. It’s about leader advocacy, organizational patience, and an executive recruiting process that is built with a focus on diversity at its core. “Focusing on the less tangible elements of recruiting will strengthen the fundamentals and help support a more comprehensive diversity recruiting strategy that is sustainable over time,” said Mr. Moorhouse.

Sustainability and long-term success, he says, require three components essential to any diversity executive recruiting strategy:

1.Organizational Leadership & Advocacy

Most importantly, an effective diversity recruiting strategy requires support and advocacy from the executive leadership team. Leaders must share with their extended team that increasing diversity is a strategic priority to which they will hold themselves and others accountable, said Mr. Moorhouse. “The recruiting team has an opportunity to work with business and HR leaders to define success and develop recruiting strategies that can have a positive impact on diversity,” he said. “Business leaders should communicate important details to their teams about the new strategy on a consistent and pre-determined basis. This will provide a platform for the recruiting team to reinforce leadership expectations throughout the process.”

Leader advocacy is even more critical given the time and patience required to recruit a diverse slate of qualified candidates across the organization. “During my career, I’ve not come across an executive role, or any role for that matter, that didn’t need to be filled immediately,” said Mr. Moorhouse. “This urgency, although important, can cause hiring managers to focus on how fast they can fill a role, rather than developing a qualified and diverse slate of finalists.”

Brian Moorhouse is the founding principal of Mirador Talent Consulting, which specializes in recruiting executive search professionals and corporate human resource leaders. During his career, he has partnered on hundreds of search engagements across multiple functions and industries, both domestically and internationally.

Having a diverse slate of candidates in the interview stages means having a highly qualified and diverse slate of candidates at the top of the funnel. This calls for a thorough search strategy that focuses on active job seekers, as well as passive talent.

2. Structured Process Built around Diversity

Diversity recruiting is often a collection of individual efforts or tools not linked to a larger, more comprehensive and coordinated diversity centric process. “Unfortunately, the executive recruiting process can often be influenced by the hiring manager and their individual preferences,” said Mirador Talent Consulting. “Other than the online application, the offer and the onboarding processes, there may not be a lot of process consistency. Prioritizing diversity at the core of your process means developing certain milestones throughout the process linked to your diversity recruiting strategy.

Some of these process gates could include:

Funnel Guidance—According to a 2016 HBR study, you significantly increase the likelihood of hiring diverse talent if at least two gender or ethnically diverse candidates proceed to the interview stages. Partner with key stakeholders to agree on the depth of diversity required on each candidate slate, before moving the recruiting process into the interview stage.

Related: The New Business Imperative: Diversity & Inclusion

Diverse Interview Teams—Candidates view the interview process as a window into the organization’s culture and business priorities. “Use this opportunity to demonstrate that an inclusive and engaging culture is a priority by diversifying your interview teams,” said Mr. Moorhouse.

Bias—Make interview team members aware of how unconscious bias can impact the hiring process. Short videos or training modules distributed to the interview team prior to the interviews can be an effective tool against unconscious bias.

Succession Planning—Closing the gap between executive recruiting and the succession planning process will significantly improve your ability to identify and engage diverse talent. “After each executive talent review, meet with senior leaders to understand where there is anticipated gaps in the availability of internal talent,” said Mr. Moorhouse. “After prioritizing talent gaps, begin mapping external talent, ensuring a diverse pipeline of prospective and pre-engaged talent.”

3. Recruiter Effectiveness—An executive recruiter’s ability to identify and engage qualified diverse talent is just as important as a structured process. This competency is a critical differentiator between selecting from the best talent that the market has to offer and selecting only from the best talent that makes themselves available to you through a traditional posting process. “That’s not to suggest you won’t get good talent through the posting process, but casting a wider net enables you to make the best decision from a larger pool of diverse talent,” said Mr. Moorhouse. “Executive recruiters need to be comfortable developing and implementing diversity recruiting strategies that target active and passive job seekers. This includes mapping a diverse pool of prospective candidates and then effectively promoting the opportunity to those prospective candidates.”

Related: Improving Diversity Starts with a Culture Check

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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