Workplace Diversity Through Recruitment

Despite the well-documented benefits of diversity, many companies are still struggling to meaningfully change the makeup of their workforce. A new report from executive search firm Madison Wells finds that creating awareness and finding diverse talent begins with developing a targeted and well-structured internal and external recruitment strategy.

October 26, 2020 – Diverse companies have 19 percent higher revenue, and according to Harvard Business Review, are 70 percent more likely to capture a new market. With diversity hiring a top priority for employers, the first step to building a diverse workforce is straightforward: Hire more diversified candidates. Sounds simple — but sometimes what sounds simple can be vexingly complex, finds a new report by Chicago-based executive search firm Madison Wells, which offers some ways that those on the front lines of hiring can lead the way for change.

It is a big question buzzing through the business world: How do you recruit, hire and promote diverse talent — and do so legally?

2020 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Recruiting Report:
Building a Balanced and Diverse Workforce

Hunt Scanlon Media’s latest market intelligence recruiting report – this time focused on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – will be available later this fall! The nation’s top executive recruiters are resetting expectations and looking for new ways forward to build balanced and diverse workforce teams for their clients.

According to executive recruiters, DE&I should not just be a priority, but an integrated part of every company’s leadership goals. Some companies have even tied DE&I metrics to executive compensation. But it’s more than that.

Part of building strong, diverse hiring teams means asking yourself: “Who is my company culture going to attract – and how will it engage people who are here?” This question can be very difficult to answer if you assume everyone feels welcome already just because you do. Fostering diversity, equity and inclusion within organizations is more than just the right ethical decision. “It is one of the best business decisions a company can make,” said Keri Gavin, a partner with Hanold Associates and leader of the search firm’s Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion practice. Hanold Associates is a proud sponsor of this year’s report. This report will help organizations prioritize DE&I as a business imperative that drives greater competitiveness, innovation and business results. Get it now! 

While 71 percent of companies say they want an inclusive culture, only 12 percent have reached a level of diversity and inclusion that could be described as mature. Creating awareness and finding diverse talent is a top challenge for organizations, but it begins with developing a targeted and well-structured internal and external recruitment strategy.

Madison Wells provided six tips to help you do just that:

1. Bake diversity into your job descriptions.

“Find smart and creative ways to encourage diverse candidates to apply for your open job opportunities,” the Madison Wells report said. “A simple line of encouragement could make a difference and help your job description stand out — and research data backs this up. For example, women will not apply for a job unless they feel 100 percent qualified, whereas men will apply when they are only 60 percent qualified.” According to a Harvard Business Review study, this happens because women are concerned that not meeting all the requirements means that they will not be hired, and therefore decide that to apply would be a waste of time. With this in mind, the search firm said to try prefacing every job description by encouraging people to apply — even if they do not meet all of the requirements. Express that your company recognizes that skills and competencies show up in myriad ways and can come from life experience.

2. Teach your hiring managers and recruiters how to avoid biases.

We all have a host of unconscious biases that can impact hiring and recruitment, derailing even the most earnest diversity initiatives. “It is vital to train your team to be more sensitive to diversity issues and recognize the pernicious pull and impact of unconscious bias,” the Madison Wells report said. “Organize diversity training so your organization can sidestep this pitfall; it is also an opportunity to communicate company values and corporate culture.”

3. Learn from companies that have demonstrated a strong commitment to diversity.

“Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” Picasso’s well-known quote can also apply to learning from organizations that are succeeding in their diversity and inclusivity efforts. There may be innovative ways to apply business acumen to benefit diversity hiring initiatives. While most companies use data-collecting ability to target consumers and glean business insights, for example, others use their analytics know-how to promote diversity and inclusion. Repurpose core business competencies to help reach your diversity goals.

4. Curate a diverse interview panel.

Madison Wells said that one of the benefits of bringing together a hiring team is that it helps mitigate both conscious and unconscious biases. “Curate your interview panel so that it includes a diverse selection of employees,” the firm said. “There are many benefits to collaborative hiring processes, but chief among them is that it will help your organization make more diverse choices.”

Related: Recruiters Up Their Game in Diversity

5. Inclusive employee benefits and perks improve workforce diversity.

The Madison Wells report also suggested that you design your benefits package with the candidates you want in mind. “By investing in inclusive employee benefits and perks, you will help attract and retain candidates from underrepresented minorities,” the study said. “Create a benefits package that’s uniquely your own and speaks to your company values.” Some considerations include:

  • Paid maternity, paternity and adoption leave

The U.S. is the only developed country in the world without a federal, paid parental leave program. As a result, only 38 percent of companies offer paid parental leave. By offering this key benefit you will better attract those on a family track, who will value the opportunity for enhanced work-life balance when dealing with a baby.

Diversity Recruiting . . .What Does That Actually Mean?

Finding diverse talent means different things to different organizations, according to a newly released study by Steven Landberg, managing director of Claymore Partners. “Diversity is a complicated goal to be defined, refined, measured and strategized as a critical business strategy for success,” he said. Let’s take a closer look.   

  • Floating Holidays

Do you want to support people of different cultural and religious backgrounds? Offer floating holidays for people to use as they wish. It is a great opportunity to stand out to candidates since 55 percent of companies do not offer this benefit.

  • Remote work policy

Pre-COVID-19, a massive 80 to 90 percent of the U.S. workforce shared that they would like to work remotely — at least part-time. Now that virtual work has become the norm in this time of pause, extending this benefit will continue to be useful to those from certain underrepresented groups, in particular for those that are disabled, working parents and those that are caring for a sick family member.

  • Flexible schedules

Consider offering the opportunity for employees to work a flexible schedule that eschews the traditional work-day hours. Doing so can help you attract and retain working parents, older workers, those that care for a sick family member and certain disabled professionals.

  • Professional development

“You can help attract high-potential candidates who have non-traditional, divergent economic and educational backgrounds by offering ample opportunities for professional development,” the Madison Wells report said. “Doing so can help create diversity of thought and set the stage for improved innovation.”

  1. Spotlight your company’s diversity initiatives on your website.

If you are actively engaged in growing diversity at your organization, talk about what you are doing. “Writing about diversity is a great way to establish your company as a thought leader and highlight the tangible steps you have taken,” the Madison Wells report said. “If you have carefully curated your benefits package with diversity and inclusion in mind, be sure to advertise that on your site. Let the world know about all your diversity initiatives and efforts — candidates are paying attention.”

Final Thoughts 

Madison Wells said that if you want to have a more diverse company, start with intention, set clear goals and use data to measure your success. Dig into the details. “Know how many employees have completed bias reduction and diversity training, and how many underrepresented candidates have been sourced for a particular role,” the search firm said. “Communicate your diversity goals and vision in multiple ways so that everyone is clear on the objective and why it matters. Set goals. Track successes. Study missteps. Monitor your progress and optimize your strategies accordingly. It is hard to grow what you cannot measure.”

Related: To Improve Diversity, Recruiting Sector Must Set a New Course

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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