I was recently asked to speak at a meet-up for internal recruiters and HR practitioners about diversity. This is certainly a topic that a lot of employers are talking about and the business case for a diverse workforce is compelling, so what’s really getting in the way of progress?
My message to employers: if your workforce currently lacks diversity, the only way you’re going to get a more diverse workforce is to recruit one! And it makes sense to engage a trusted recruitment partner to help you on your journey.
So as a specialist recruiter, how can you ensure your recruitment and sourcing processes are conducive to finding the candidates you are looking for? Let’s take a look at some practical ways in which recruiters are ensuring candidate diversity through each step of the talent funnel from employment branding, sourcing, candidate experience, assessment and selection.
Managing employer expectations
One of the most common concerns that I hear from employers is: “We want to hire for diversity, but we don’t want to lower the bar”. Well most applicants don’t want the bar lowered either – they want to be hired on merit, instead of being a token hire. But if your wish list doesn’t currently exist, throwing diversity into the mix isn’t going to make it any easier so what will employers give up in return for the diversity they desire? Look at what’s truly relevant to the job specifications, and challenge the criteria before you begin to design the process.
If employers are truly serious about diversity in recruitment, how are they helping their recruitment partners to bring diverse talent to the table? And when they have diverse talent in the recruitment process, where are they dropping out? And once they’ve hired differently, will new hires want to stick around? Are their current diversity initiatives enough to bring about meaningful change in the workplace or are they simply there to ensure compliance and quota boxes can be ticked off?
Getting an idea of where companies are currently at on their path towards diversity and inclusion can better aid you in your approach, as well as position your value.
Many recruitment companies unwittingly make the mistake of concentrating on refining their recruitment processes to ensure they are meeting diversity targets when they would be better served investing some of that time in developing and expanding their sourcing strategy.
Tactics that get results
Share your culture and commitment to diversity and inclusion consistently in external communications. Does your website have stories and blogs about your incredibly diverse workforce? What about the cultural morning teas you hold, how your team is getting involved in Maori Language Week or how you’ve become an accessible workplace? Even if you’re only just beginning your journey, the important part is that you’re being visible and authentic about your efforts.
Ask yourself, what messages are you sending, subliminally, with your job advertisements and job descriptions? Candidates are often on high alert for any words in job ads which suggest they may not be a fit (we’re not talking about serial appliers!). If you are using language which unconsciously shows a preference for a particular demographic profile, you are doing yourself and your client an enormous disservice. Neutral language sends a very clear signal to candidates that they will be assessed only on their ability to do the job and not whether they are male or female, whether they went to an elite school or where they were born. Words like adaptable, curious, plans for the future are seen as inclusive, whereas words like ambitious, takes risks and ninja are seen as problematic and skewed to resonate more highly with males.
While there is still debate about whether the process of blind CVs work, they’re often a step towards ensuring diversity because they remove information which recruiters many have an unconscious bias of - and that’s the key. We are not all aware of our own biases,