Advice for Employers and Recruiters

15 tips for employers who wish to improve their diversity recruiting strategies

Steven Rothberg AvatarSteven Rothberg
March 9, 2023

Some might believe that an expert exists in any field who knows everything about everything. I don’t believe that. I do believe that there are experts who know more about a matter than anyone else, and I also believe that there are some who have expertise regarding multiple matters. But when a matter is as broad and complex as how best improve on a diversity recruiting strategy, considering opinions from multiple experts, I believe, should lead to better outcomes.

College Recruiter recently sought the opinions of 15 of the foremost experts in diversity recruiting to answer the question, “What is one tip you have for employers who wish to improve their diversity recruiting strategy?” As one might expect, the answers varied, were sometimes in contradiction with each other, but mostly consistent and complementary. In summary, the 15 were:

  • Meet Candidates Where They Are
  • Form Partnerships With Community Organizations
  • Foster an Inclusive Environment
  • Conduct Unbiased Training
  • Create a Branded and Curated Candidate Experience
  • Build a Diverse Recruiting Team
  • Be Expressive and Honest
  • Grow a DEI-focused Website
  • Provide Support to Diverse Employees
  • Ensure Automated Tools Are Trained on Minority Data
  • Reword Job Postings to Attract a Range of Applicants
  • Practice Blind Hiring
  • Structure the Process
  • Set Measurable Goals to Track Your Progress
  • Realize Your Own Bias

Meet Candidates Where They Are

If you want to improve your diversity recruiting strategy, you can’t wait around for candidates to find out about you—go meet them where they are. Your strategy should incorporate in-person and digital outreach.

Identify schools, clubs, and other affiliations that serve underrepresented groups and begin creating meaningful relationships with those groups. When sourcing candidates online, begin by engaging with graduates of minority-serving institutions. Building a diverse recruiting strategy requires focus and the intention to build a truly diverse team that will help your company succeed.

Jim Leahy, Manager & Talent Acquisition, DailyPay

Form Partnerships With Community Organizations

Improving diversity in recruitment depends on the relationships and partnerships you can build with different communities. Look towards organizations within your community that support different groups, like LGBTQ+ centers, Asian community resource centers, etc. 

Reaching out and building relationships with them not only expands your pool of recruitment to more diverse pools, but also creates opportunities for dialogues where community members can voice their suggestions and needs in order to improve parts of your recruitment process.

Adam Shlomi, Founder, SoFlo Tutors

Foster an Inclusive Environment

The key to improving a company’s diversity recruiting strategy is to focus on creating an inclusive work environment that embraces and celebrates diversity. A great starting point is to consider diversifying roles within the organization, such as widening the pool of potential executive candidates or hiring people with different qualifications. 

Additionally, take steps to make sure your recruitment process reflects inclusivity by actively reaching out to underrepresented groups and ensuring that job descriptions reflect all backgrounds. 

It is also important for employers to implement accountability measures for measuring their success in increasing diversity in their workplace. This could include setting hiring goals related specifically to recruiting a more diverse workforce and holding recruiters accountable if these targets are not successfully reached. Create policies for vetting staffing partners involved with recruitment activities.

Travis Lindemoen, Managing Director, nexus IT group

Conduct Unbiased Training

Conduct training on unconscious bias for all employees, and require all new hires to attend within their first three months of the job. Training can be conducted in-house or through contracting with an external party. Just make sure that everyone is there, not just the recruiters. 

If you want your company to be welcoming to people of all backgrounds, do everything you can to raise awareness of unconscious bias. It’s essential to remember that unconscious prejudice is present not only at the time of hiring but also at the time of promoting employees. Untrained managers or team leaders who harbor unconscious bias may unwittingly prefer colleagues with whom they share commonalities rather than treating all employees fairly.

Samantha Odo, Real Estate Expert & Chief Operating Officer, Precondo

Create a Branded and Curated Candidate Experience

Chances are you’ve been recruiting for a while, so there is no secret source of diverse candidates that you don’t know of. Rather than focusing your recruiting efforts in and among your competitors at job fairs, on job boards, or other highly-trafficked outlets, consider your message and create differentiation at every touchpoint in the candidate’s journey. 

It means selling your culture instead of telling more about the requirements. It means showing more about the value of your opportunities and what the future holds for those who join you. And it means creating a landing page that answers every “why” and leaves an indelible impression on every visitor. 

We’ve all heard the phrase “Life is a journey, not a destination.” That may be so in life, but when it comes to diversity recruiting, you need to create a branded journey and own the destination.

Jody Ordioni, Chief Brand Officer, Brandemix

Build a Diverse Recruiting Team

Use a diverse recruitment team that reflects the demographic makeup of the target population. Having a diverse recruitment team will create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all potential applicants, which could lead to increased diversity in the recruitment process. 

Additionally, it’s important to be mindful of any language or terminology used in job postings, as well as how any diversity initiatives are promoted. Ensuring that all recruitment messaging is inclusive and reflective of the company’s diversity goals is essential to creating a successful recruitment strategy.

Lilian Chen, Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer, Bar None Games

Be Expressive and Honest

Don’t be afraid to expressly show that you are interested in hearing from people from diverse backgrounds. Many will worry this can come across as forced, or like you are doing it to tick boxes, but actually, potential employees will appreciate your honesty and openness that you are looking to be a diverse hirer and that this is a safe space for them to apply to. 

Something that is important to realize is that applicants from diverse backgrounds have become discouraged about historically losing roles to cis-white heterosexual counterparts, and it’s difficult to feel safe enough to apply for a role with confidence, so this is your opportunity to highlight to them you are a keen equal opportunities hirer, or that you are trying to make better change that is more equal.

Alex Mastin, CEO & Founder, Home Grounds

Grow a DEI-focused Website

Your website and recruitment portal should be 100% accessible to all and written from a DEI perspective. Ensure you use clear headings and structure for better screen-reader access, multiple content types, and simple language supporting neurodiversity. 

Use inclusive, gender-neutral language, highlight client diversity, and include your organization’s core cultural values and inclusivity statements on your website. Create a separate page for your DEI content in your site’s “About Us” section and build an intersectional employee resource page to educate your entire team and provide resources to diverse teammates.

Jack Underwood, CEO & Co-Founder, Circuit

Provide Support to Diverse Employees

You must offer the help they require through your company policy if you want to successfully attract and hire more diverse people. Employees should feel comfortable discussing their values, culture, and needs and be given encouragement to do so. 

For instance, your workplace policy should address maternity leave or flexible work schedules if you’re attempting to increase the number of women in your teams. Additionally, allow your staff to take time off for holidays and major religious or communal events. By doing this, you’ll show your concern and regard for the individual needs of each of your workers.

Brian Clark, Founder, United Medical Education

Ensure Automated Tools Are Trained on Minority Data

When aiming to hire a diverse workforce, many businesses presume automating the recruiting tools they leverage for hiring may be the best way to purge the hiring process of racial stereotypes. After all, these tools aren’t emotional and also not prone to sentiments staining their judgment, right? But on deeper reflection, a worrisome fraction of automated hiring tools (especially those built on artificial intelligence) intrinsically have racial biases because their algorithms were not sufficiently trained with minority data. 

Consequently, such tools disproportionately favor candidates from majorities at the expense of candidates with disadvantaged backgrounds. So, it is crucial when vetting automated tools to go for software that was extensively trained on data and designed by engineering teams with staff from minority ethnic groups. This way, such automated hiring tools can be more accommodating of candidates from diverse backgrounds.

Lotus Felix, CEO, Lotus Brains Studio

Reword Job Postings to Attract a Range of Applicants

I often see job postings that are regurgitated and used for years or even decades within an industry. This is a big mistake; yesterday’s euphemisms only uphold the status quo. For instance, studies have shown that language perceived as neutral by hiring managers now reads as exclusionary to candidates. 

Words like “aggressive” or “people-focused” can limit who applies for the position. The solution is simple: rework your job postings regularly. Consider hiring a third-party sensitivity service to ensure you’re not inadvertently including content that may eliminate a diverse pool of applicants. 

Rob Reeves, CEO & President, Redfish Technology

Practice Blind Hiring

One strategy for any employer who is looking to hire in a more diversified manner is blind resumes, also known as “blind hiring.” This is a recruiting procedure where personal identifying information such as name, age, education, and address is removed from resumes before they are reviewed by hiring managers. 

This way, any unconscious bias is eliminated, and we evaluate the candidates based solely on their qualifications and experience, rather than factors such as their name, ethnicity, looks, or where they went to school. There usually follows an increase in diversity in the candidate pool and an improvement in the chances of hiring qualified candidates from underrepresented groups. So, next time you have an open position, consider obscuring some info before the recruitment process begins!

Piotrek Sosnowski, Chief People & Culture Officer, HiJunior

Structure the Process

Inclusive hiring can be done by not only having a diverse applicant pool but also evaluating these candidates using predetermined interview questions that are only and directly linked to the position and do not perpetuate discriminatory practices and biases (like salary history, for example). 

The answers to these questions should be tied to a predetermined outcome and have an objective score. In addition, having a hiring panel of people of diverse backgrounds and identities, rather than a single person as the reviewer, can provide a wider perspective and reduce the possibility of biases. When diverse people have a voice in the selection process and their concerns and contributions are validated, change is possible in the organization.

Elayna Fernandez, Storyteller, Strategist, & Student of Pain,

Set Measurable Goals to Track Your Progress

One tip I have for employers who wish to improve their diversity recruiting strategy is to actively seek and engage with underrepresented communities. Build relationships with groups that focus on diversity and inclusion, such as neurodiversity groups, and by attending career fairs and events that target these communities. 

Reviewing and updating job postings and descriptions is important to ensure they are inclusive and welcoming to diverse candidates. Another tip is to ensure that your recruitment process is inclusive and unbiased by training recruiters and hiring managers on unconscious bias and implementing blind resume screening. 

Last, I recommend setting specific and measurable goals for diversity and inclusion and tracking progress against them. This will help you identify areas where progress is being made and where more work needs to be done, and it will also help you hold your organization accountable for making progress in this area.

Cameron King, Marketing Director, TechTalent

Realize Your Own Bias

The first step toward preventing biased outcomes is to get to know the most common biases out there. Take the time to learn about stereotypical and cognitive biases. Reflect. Discuss. Think about how these biases affect your recruitment process step by step and then follow up with actions to counteract them. For example, you can lean into AI in your screening process.
Veronika Schäfer, Head of Learning Science, Zavvy

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