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Improving diversity in the workplace has rightly become a top priority, with 57% of recruiters saying they have strategies designed to attract a more diverse pool of candidates.
Is your company as diverse as it could be?
Why Improving Diversity Is Crucial
It’s been shown that diverse organizations reap tremendous benefits. More diverse companies have more creativity, stronger innovation, and increased market share. Diverse teams are also smarter, as they process facts more objectively than a more homogeneous group of employees.
So how do you know if you need to focus on improving diversity into your company? You need to know the two different kinds of diversity: inherent and acquired. Inherent diversity includes characteristics such as race, gender, or age. Acquired diversity involves traits you get from certain experiences, such as education, knowledge, or skills; hiring someone who has worked in a foreign country is a good example of acquired diversity.
When looking to shake up your company culture, you’re not just looking to hire more inherently diverse candidates. You want to have an array of employees who fall into both categories.
So, you know what kind of candidates you want, and what types of diversity you need. How do you do it? Here are five ways to bring more diversity into your organization.
- Ask employees for assistance.
There are a few ways your employees can help you diversify your company. First, you can ask your underrepresented employees to write about their experiences at the organization. Diversity will attract more diversity, so being able to give prospective candidates a unique and truthful perspective will pique their interest.
Secondly, Your existing employees will have numerous connections they can reach out to, and a few of them will probably be candidates you wouldn’t traditionally consider. This will also allow you to better engage and retain your employees. Asking for their opinions and recommendations will make them feel like they matter (which is one of three things all humans crave, in addition to safety and belonging). Additionally, if new hires already have people they know and trust at the company, they’re more likely to stick around.
- Write job descriptions based on results, rather than qualifications.
If you want more diverse candidates, you need to be careful how you word your job descriptions. Studies show that men apply for jobs when they think they’re 60% qualified, whereas women only apply when they think they’re 100% qualified. Rather than having job descriptions that focus on qualifications (which may block female applicants), write about what the applicant can expect to accomplish in the role. Give examples of what the applicant can expect a month, six months, and even a year into the job.
- Diversify your pipelines.
Committing to a diverse pipeline is key to improving diversity within your organization. Look into utilizing third-party websites to post open job opportunities rather than relying on employee referrals. People tend to have networks that are demographically homogeneous, so referrals can sometimes hinder strives toward diversity.
In addition, diversifying your final candidate pool yields tremendous results. Studies show that if only one minority is in the final pool, they basically have no chance of getting the job. However, if two minorities are in the pool, the odds rise remarkably. Having two minorities in the final candidate pool increases their chances of getting hired 194 times more than if there was only one.
- Have a structured interview process.
How many times have you left an interview with a “gut feeling” that a candidate isn’t right for the job? The problem with a gut feeling is that it isn’t an adequate reason for not hiring someone, even if it feels that way.
One way to beat this is to structure your interview process. You don’t have to follow a script… Interviews often go better when there’s a natural flow. However, asking each candidate a set of similar questions will help you develop a data set that you can analyze, rather than rely on that gut feeling — which may be an indication of inherent bias.
- Check your team’s biases.
Unconscious bias is unavoidable. It’s a natural state of the brain that evolved from the days when we needed to be able to calculate very quickly if something was like us and thus friendly, or unlike us and possibly dangerous. In fact, the brain has far more (three to four times as much!) real estate devoted to identifying threats, than to identifying opportunities and rewards.
Despite bias being so deep-rooted in the brain, there are ways to examine your team’s biases as well as your own. Facebook has come up with a training video for their employees to teach them about unconscious bias and help them combat it. Your own biases can be difficult to come to terms with, but awareness is key… You can’t overcome something you weren’t conscious of.
The good news is the more emotionally intelligent you are, the easier it will be for you to confront these biases. In a previous blog, I discuss how you can become a more emotionally intelligent leader, and why having a high EQ can help with a myriad of leadership issues, including bias.
- Improving diversity in the workplace benefits everyone.
- All human beings are biased. It’s nothing to be ashamed of… It’s important to be cognizant of it, and work to overcome these implicit biases.
Do you think you can bring more diversity into your organization? What steps will you take to ensure you and your team are addressing your unconscious biases?