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Diversity Recruitment Best Practices – Reduce the Bias in Hiring

Updated: Sep 17, 2021

In our previous post on how to not be silent on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, we touched on how many organizations are only paying lip service to D&I issues.

Organizations that are serious about diversity and diversity hiring find it easier to attract top diverse talent due to their more positive employer branding and reputation. Aside from being the socially responsible thing to do, studies have shown that

The benefits go on and on but building a diverse talent pool goes beyond just setting goals and making a few changes to tout social justice.

Here are five (5) proven diversity recruiting strategies to use as inspiration for your own programs from research studies on diversity, unconscious bias, leadership and hiring diverse candidates, and the companies that are getting their diversity recruiting efforts right.

1. Building a diverse talent sourcing pool

Hiring managers need access to a wide array of potential diverse candidates when recruiting. So, it makes sense to look beyond your conventional recruiting pipeline - the one that resulted in your current homogenous employees’ composition.

To build a candidate pool that’s wide enough to feed into

your workforce, you want to look into places where diversity thrives.

Simple things like targeting specific diversity recruitment strategies such as enhancing your recruiting funnel by branding and building relationship with historically black colleges and universities (HCBUs) as well as associations like the National Association of Asian American Professionals, Hispanic and Latino organizations, and Women For Hire, in addition to posting on their job boards. For businesses looking to innovate in a challenging economy, diversity recruiting initiatives linked to HBCUs provide a largely untapped resource of bright, hungry students whose diversity in representation brings diversity of thought which in turn drives innovation.

Companies can partner with their employees to build an employee resource of a targeted database based on personal information such as the educational institutions and associations that the employee graduated from or belongs to for further targeted inclusion programs to attract the desired talent and candidates. By deploying diversity and inclusion strategies focused on places to recruit diverse candidates from, recruiters have a candidate pool to target job boards to market and attract talent, in addition to getting the highly preferred resumes . Increasing diversity among other underrepresented groups will help improve your chances of landing candidates with the qualification and skill set you’re looking for.

2. Leveraging social media to reach more diverse candidates

Hiring teams should learn how to tap into the potential of social media when developing a diverse and inclusive recruitment strategy to incorporate into their talent acquisition process. Implementing socially diverse recruiting strategies help to reach more diverse job seekers during recruiting efforts. LinkedIn and Facebook are great examples of social technology that can help recruiters target a diverse candidate pool, such as female and minority candidates, and resumes from diverse backgrounds.

Employers can easily access a wide pool of diverse candidates considering the abundance of groups with initiatives on social media platforms for underrepresented people.

Social media also makes it easier to target specific candidates with targeted advertising. When organizations are able to create better practices by tying social media with the right diversity hiring strategies, companies will often realize the two are a formula for success. This may also in turn result in the business seeing a boost in their employer’s brand.

Recruiters can easily join an organization or some of these diverse and inclusive groups to ensure the company’s job advertisements reach a diverse audience when recruiting. In addition to participating as a company in various recruiting efforts, companies can show that they are doing more than lip service to improve diversity by ensuring it is implemented not only in diversity recruitment strategy, but also in the recruiter cadence and recruiting process. Moving the dial on your diversity recruitment should also involve making better hiring decisions, which can include the deployment of interview scorecards to standardize the evaluation of candidates in the interview process to put the right talent in the right roles.

3. Leveraging the right tools to support your hiring goals

In our previous post on AI and Recruitment, we touched on how AI technology can be integrated into the hiring process to automate core recruiting processes and help with objective organization decision-making to mitigate unconscious bias in hiring initiatives.

It’s important to recognize that although humans can try to eliminate many of their conscious biases, it can be quite challenging to identify and eliminate many of the other unconscious biases such as ageism, racism, and sexism for example.

Technology can help with this by utilizing data aggregators to compile the most relevant details from across the web into a database, creating candidate profiles with each search. AI sourcing tools create increasingly more intelligent sourcing that helps recruiters and hiring managers find talent faster, find triggers that indicate a candidate's interest, personalize the recruitment process, and capitalize on creating a unique candidate experience that keeps the passive candidate engaged or nurtured. AI Sourcing tools increase team productivity by automating part of the recruiting process.

AI innovation powered psychological assessments can be

used to measure leadership aptitude as well as other desired business, technical, and soft skills that the job requires.

Savvy organizations leverage hiring automation tools that can assist with eliminating human biases to make purely data-driven decisions. A great example of this is how KPMG increased female hires by 44% using AI. However, while deploying this type of technology innovation, it is important to remember it too may still be prone to human error. Success with workforce initiatives and technology go hand in hand, and regular reviews of the tools, data, and strategy are still needed to finetune such tools for greater efficiency.

4. Redefining job requirements

Companies are taking a hard look at how they word job requirements for filling open positions. An internal study at Hewlett Packard revealed that women don’t apply for jobs where they feel they don’t meet 100% of the application criteria while men, on the other hand, would not hesitate to apply even if they met only 60% of the criteria.

So, it’s necessary for the company hiring team to be careful on how the job advertisement is worded to avoid unknowingly alienating diverse job seekers.

For example, if the job advert says the position requires seven (7) years of experience, you want to be sure you can’t hire candidates with six (6) years of experience. It may be better to provide wording such as 6+ years or a statement language showing preferred years of experience - 7 years highly preferred, 6+ years required - to ensure you are casting a wide enough net to attract the desired candidates in the recruitment process.

5. Assembling a diverse team to create a diverse workplace

Managers play a significant role in the hiring process. It is important that interview recruiting teams also reflect the company’s DEI efforts, even in the interview with candidates. A recent Workplace Diversity report found that most hiring managers’ hiring decisions reflect their ethnicity. Outside research data tells us that the lack of diversity in the recruiting process would further increase ‘similar as me’ company hires regardless of whether such biases are based on ethnicity or gender.

Companies can use structured interview questions with data driven questioning and a rating scale assessment in the form of a candidate scorecard to assess against predefined benchmarks. For example, in the executive search process, research from Harvard Business Review and previous studies from the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business, although not conclusive, suggests that the key is to make your short list longer and/or ensure 2 or even 3 female candidates (or other underrepresented groups) on the short list to level the odds.

As a company becomes flatter and teams across the organization become more cross functional, creating initiatives to expand employees’ opportunities to refer, engage, and work with great talent across varied backgrounds to build inclusive diverse efforts to recruit and establish team and leadership opportunities that advance workplace equity and the diversity and inclusion strategy of the company. This will further propel diversity recruitment practices to a more practical employee strategy as everyone looks for something different in candidates and some can see potential where others cannot.

6. Getting serious with your employee referral programs

Employee referral programs are a cost-effective way for an organization to fill open positions and expand their diversity recruiting efforts. According to the Talent Acquisition Report by the Aberdeen Group, companies cite referral programs as their “Most Effective Source of Hire" compared to other efforts in the business.

Diverse employees likely know other diverse people who might fit the skill and education requirements for a particular position. To better leverage your employee network, it makes sense to communicate your goals of building a more diverse workforce with your current employees to cast a wider net to attract diverse candidates.

An example of a brilliant employee referral program that doesn't waste time and cuts right to the point when an employee joins a company’s team within the first weeks is Pure, an American property insurance business. They ask if the employee knows anyone else that would be a good fit for the company. This strategy has been successful in engaging the employee in the referral program, resulting in between 40% and 60% of its employees having been sourced from referrals.

Salesforce, a United States cloud computing giant, has paid its employees a total of no less than $5.5 million worth of referral bounties. How does Salesforce deploy such a successful referral program?

The company has developed resources to promote career events via organized Recruitment Happy Hours. These are informal gatherings where employees can invite the people they want to refer. A team or department may have their leadership, in addition to the recruiters, get acquainted with potential candidates and have resources on the business to share with them as well as the advantages of having a career within the organization. Just like in networking events, Salesforce has been able to maximize informal company-sponsored career events to make it fun for both the employees and referrals since they both can enjoy a few beverages together and strengthen their business connections.

7. Organizing events that create opportunities for underrepresented groups

Companies like Accenture, PwC, and EY, among others, have developed several programs and events for underrepresented groups in the workforce. PwC’s Start program is aimed at campus internship and recruiting for ethnically diverse students while Accenture’s Student Empowerment Program is targeted at female and minority students. Programs like these, including organizing or participating in virtual career fairs targeted at underrepresented student groups, women and other backgrounds, can help recruiting teams land more candidates whose experience, skillset, and education align with their company’s hiring needs and diversity recruitment strategy that reflect a diverse workforce.


The process of diversifying your workforce is not always going to be easy. However, having a strategy to deploy practical applications on why diversity and inclusion is important can be seen to be key in having a diversity recruiting cadence that engages diverse talent to attract candidates, manage, and retain employees. Consequently, it makes sense to base your diversity recruiting strategies on tactics and practices that have been proven to yield results.

Along with reaching wider and more diverse talent during recruiting, as a beginning strategy, the talent acquisition team can target specific underrepresented groups for hiring opportunities, develop and launch internal company workforce programs and involve more diverse employees in the recruiting decisions.

It is then that an organization will begin to move the needle forward in creating a sustainable diversity, inclusion, and equity strategy tied to diversity recruiting that yields not only increased diversity within their workforce and workplace, but competitive advantages within the company.

Organizations should be aware that creating an inclusive environment where diverse talent can thrive is part of the key to having a supportive and positive work environment. The best diversity practices that support their workforce may include an employee resource such as company affinity groups. Affinity groups area typically initiated by employees that bring employees across various backgrounds and locations together in an employee resources groups (ERGs) to promote diversity, inclusiveness, openness, and understanding in the business.

Finally, what good is having a diversity recruitment strategy if there is no measurement? Real accountability starts when companies are able to have the right metrics to measure their progress and success. In a 2018 white paper from the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals (ATAP), a committee recommended using four criteria to assess various metrics:

  1. Does the metric have a clearly articulated purpose?

  2. Does the metric pass the SMART (specific, measurable, action-oriented, relevant, timely) test?

  3. Can the metric be treated as a standard for future benchmarking purposes?

  4. Can the metric be categorized as either functional (providing insights on operations) or individual (providing feedback for coaching and performance)?

These four points give context for determining the metrics needed and emphasized when understanding and improving your organizations diversity and recruiting efforts, because having greater diversity, not only helps the bottom line, but also improves an organization’s ability to solve problems and devise creative solutions.

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