What Diverse Candidates Look for From Employers

July 19, 2016 – It comes as no surprise that employers are recognizing the value of an inclusive and diverse work environment — nor that the most forward-looking organizations view it as a leading competitive advantage when hiring from the entry level right up through to the C-suite. A diverse workplace, the argument goes, helps companies understand and meet the needs of an increasingly diverse customer base and develop new markets. Diversity of thought, it has now been proven, is a key driver for improved decision-making, problem solving and innovation.

To that end, a just released report from ManpowerGroup Solutions has found that fair and supportive work environments — and those with genuine opportunities for advancement — will ensure that these same companies retain the top diverse talent they are working so hard to recruit in the first place.

Some Emerging Trends

Manpower’s report was assembled, in large part, to understand how employers can leverage candidate preferences and create motivators for change. Respondents self-identified on several diversity factors, including ethnicity, sexual preference and the presence of physical or mental disabilities. A number of important trends emerged suggesting how employers can effectively recruit and retain a diverse workforce.

Among U.S. candidates generally, type of work and compensation are the top two motivators when making career decisions. This ranking tends to hold true for diverse candidates as well. What happens beyond those two factors, however, is revealing. ‘Opportunity for advancement’ is a stronger a motivator for African Americans (40 percent) and Hispanic / Latinos (36 percent) but less so for their white counterparts (26 percent).

When it comes to immediate job change, opportunity for advancement is twice the motivator for pursuing new job opportunities among African American and Hispanic / Latino candidates as their white counterparts. It is three times the motivator for Native American versus white candidates.

Members of historically underserved and disenfranchised communities place great value on the ability to excel and rise within an organization. Companies who clearly communicate this as a core value will attract the best and brightest diversity candidates, according to the Manpower report. However, the failure to provide real opportunities for growth will be a breach of trust for these candidates — and potentially impact retention rates.

Eight out of 10 U.S. candidates believe employer-employee trust is the most important aspect of an employer’s brand. That finding holds true among diverse populations as well.

Like all U.S. candidates, compensation and type of work are the most important motivators for career decisions. However, LGBT candidates are more likely to be brand-driven candidates than their non-LGBT counterparts. That is, LGBT candidates are more likely to consider the brand and reputation of a company as a top three factor when making career decisions. Overall, compensation is less of a motivator for this group of candidates vs. their non-LGBT counterparts – both as a factor in making career decisions generally and in job-switching activity.

Diversity candidates rely on the same sources as all U.S. candidates do when researching job opportunities. Company websites are consistently the No. 1 source of information across all ethnic groups, followed by search engine results. However, when asked about credible and reliable sources of information about a company’s brand, substantial differences emerge.

Although candidates generally believe current employees are the No. 1 source for this information, African American and Hispanic / Latino candidates place great faith in employer review websites. Twenty-two percent of African American candidates and 20 percent of Hispanic / Latino candidates trust Glassdoor, Career Bliss and other employer review websites for information — approximately double the number of white candidates (11 percent).

Depending upon the site, LGBT candidates are one to two times more likely to use career sites than their non-LGBT counterparts. Career Builder and Monster are used by 39 percent and 36 percent of LGBT candidates, respectively, which makes them equivalent in importance with LinkedIn and Jobs.com. While the research shows that LGBT candidates are more likely to be Gen X (ages 18 to 34) than Gen Y (ages 35 to 50), LGBT career site usage patterns are not merely correlated with age. Twitter and Instagram usage among the LGBT community is significantly higher than for the non-LGBT community and younger candidates.

Candidates with physical or mental disabilities are, however, twice as likely as the average U.S. candidates to use an outside recruiter as part of their job search process. They also place more importance on the personality of the recruiter and the values of the company and rate companies higher that have a strong reputation on taking care of their employees. Although job description and compensation retain their importance, these candidates are looking for the human touch in their job search experience.

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“Many businesses struggle to attract and retain diverse talent,” said Chris Rowland, global diversity officer at ManpowerGroup. “The problem will not correct itself and a one-size-fits-all approach will not cut it. There is no quick fix, but there are practical steps businesses can take to build a diverse and inclusive workforce. These start with abandoning the ‘post-and-pray’ hiring approach and instead developing purposeful, tailored messaging delivered through carefully chosen channels.”

Six Tips for Recruiting a Diverse Workforce

Articulate clear pathways for advancement: Because the opportunity for advancement is so important to diversity candidates, make it a key message point from the very beginning of your recruitment efforts and reinforce it throughout the candidate experience. A clear pathway for advancement should be articulated in job descriptions, interviews, the onboarding process and annual employee reviews and feedback sessions.

Take the direct route: Augment your current recruitment efforts by leveraging websites such as the Professional Diversity Network, Black Career Network, iHispano, Out Pro Network, Military 2 Career and the Asian Career Network. Use the numerous federal, state and local resources that serve candidates with physical or mental disabilities and be sure that those resources know how to articulate the company’s employer value proposition to candidates.

A picture is worth a thousand hits: Leverage social media by posting photos and videos of the workplace that depict diversity in action. Stock photos of diversity in the workplace will only go so far in today’s media-savvy culture. Post pictures of employees with whom target candidates can identify. Just as many companies have embraced diversity in their television commercials, and HR departments can dial up the effort in their outreach efforts.

Use employee ambassadors: There is no substitute for the authentic voices that employee ambassadors bring to the recruitment of top talent. From their presence at job fairs to posting on career sites and social media, current employees can connect with diversity candidates using the messages that resonate with them. Encourage employees to reach out within their own communities, as appropriate, to raise awareness of employment opportunities.

Educate staff: There are a number of good resources on how to build a corporate culture that embraces diversity. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy provides educational material on disability etiquette. Cross-cultural training programs are also available to help ensure that a respectful and productive workplace is maintained where a multiplicity of backgrounds and religions are present.

Reward, promote and inspire: Employers who tailor their messages and channels of communication for diversity candidates create a unique covenant with these potential hires. Diversity in the workplace is a commitment that extends from the mailroom to the boardroom. Diversity at all levels of the organization is essential to that commitment. To the degree that diverse employees are rewarded and promoted within the organization, it will send a powerful message throughout the organization and engender employer-employee trust.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media

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