As a business owner, an integral part of your growth plans will likely involve adding to your workforce.

But if you fail to maintain a focus on hiring for diversity as part of your overall business growth strategy you’re essentially handing over your business to your competitors.

Why?

Because your business isn’t leveraging the many and varied benefits of increasing diversity within your organization.

Intuitively, people understand the importance of hiring for diversity, but without an understanding of the specific benefits gained, the adoption of diverse hiring practices can be relegated to the column of “nice to have” rather than where it should be – “essential”.

Benefits of Diversity Hiring Practices

Gives you insight into your customers

When your workforce reflects the customers you serve you can gain insight into what your customers need and want from you.

Consider disabled individuals, for example.

The American Institute for Research study A Hidden Market: The Purchasing Power of Working-Age Adults With Disabilities found that as of 2018, this demographic possessed approximately $490 billion dollars in disposable income.

What portion, if any, did your organization receive from this population?

If your workforce includes individuals with a disability not only do you benefit from the work they do, but you gain an insight into the kinds of products and services that benefit both your current and potential customers.

Imagine what this would mean to your company’s bottom line.

Fosters creativity

The more diverse your workforce, the more variety and creativity in solutions that can be brought to your business.

Ask your team to bring their unique perspectives when resolving problems or creating innovative products and services to the table.

When everyone knows that their idea, no matter how “crazy” or unusual, will be considered, it fosters trust, respect, and collaboration among your entire workforce.

Encouraging creative thinking helps your employees fully grasp the bigger picture of what your business is trying to achieve. This helps each person realize the impact of their role in the company, leading to stronger engagement with the organization.

Can lead to financial gains

More creative solutions can lead to better outcomes for companies with diverse leadership.

For example, a McKinsey and Company study of the executive boards for several different companies found that “for companies ranking in the top quartile of executive-board diversity, ROEs (returns on equity) were 53 percent higher, on average, than they were for those in the bottom quartile.”

In a 2013 Center for Talent Innovation Survey, 48% of US companies with senior management level diversity increased their market share from the prior year. The same survey showed that only 33% of companies with less management-level diversity experienced similar growth.

Clearly, then, organizations with diverse hiring practices across the board at all levels benefit financially.

As you can see, there are many benefits to a diverse workforce…we’ve only named a few of them.

If you need or want to establish a more diverse workforce, use the following diversity hiring practices to encourage top diverse talent to become part of your organization.

1. Challenge your mindset

Each of us has a worldview that is a result of many things; our life experiences, our race, gender, ethnicity, etc. combine to create who we are as individuals.

Examine your mindset to see what beliefs may be interfering with your company’s successful search for and engagement with diverse individuals.

2. Address unconscious bias

Unconscious bias can be defined as an implicit preference towards or against groups, things or individuals.

None of us are exempt from unconscious bias.

In fact, neuroscience research reveals that we are “hard-wired” to prefer individuals who are like us.

However, instead of ignoring unconscious bias because we’re “made that way”, companies must acknowledge that it’s normal without neglecting to resolve the negative impacts it can create.

Think about your own biases and think about how they impact your decision-making process and your interactions with others in the workplace.

For example, has your bias ever led you to disregard a current employee for a new role within the organization – only to find out later that they would have been perfect for it?

If you’ve identified – or someone else has pointed out – a negative bias you may have, address it honestly. Ask yourself why a particular individual, group or idea is making you feel uncomfortable.

Perhaps it’s a result of a lack of knowledge or assumptions about differences – or similarities. Whatever the reason, it’s best to deal with your misperceptions head-on.

As noted earlier, every individual is predisposed to bias, however, only those biases which negatively impact others in the workplace need to be addressed.

Discuss the issue of unconscious bias with your team. Awareness and understanding are key to begin changing how we interact with each other.

Have everyone ask themselves – and each other – questions such as:

  • What biases might I have?
  • What impact does this have on individuals within our workplace?
  • What can I do to address this issue?

Unconscious bias can be subtle, so ask any peers (who are unlike you) if they have seen any patterns in how you interact with others that could be considered negative.

3. Put a strategic system into place

A well-planned recruitment strategy using both internal and external resources is key to building a diverse workforce.

Here’s how:

  • Think about how you define diversity
  • Think about your company’s definition of diversity.

While there are external, visible forms of diversity; age, race, ethnicity, etc., don’t forget other, less obvious forms; geography, educational background, family status, economics, neurological (i.e. how we process information) in your recruitment process.

Defining diversity within your organization can provide insights into how to approach finding and connecting with diverse individuals.

4. Use data to eliminate bias

Standardize your evaluation of candidates using facts and data in precisely the same way with each individual.

For example, remove photos and names from the equation to ensure that facts such as race, age and/or gender can’t trigger any unconscious bias. This can prevent a perfectly capable candidate from getting overlooked.

5. Pay close attention to your language choices

You might think that language choices don’t matter that much, however you’d be wrong. Individuals can perceive subtle nuances in word choices that may or may not have been intended by the job ad creator.

For example, word choices such as “competitive” or “dominate” can be seen as desirable traits by men, however, some women may self-select out of applying for the position that uses these words in the descriptor.

If your organization wants to attract more women, avoid these word choices and opt for words such as “passion” or “collaboration”.

Keep in mind, however, that it’s not that you can never use these words, but what matters, essentially, is the tone that your job advert creates.

Note: there are apps available that can help you create job advertisements that will appeal to a wide base of individuals.

6. Revise your interview strategies if needed

Your interviewers should be diverse too.

When candidates can see diversity in action within an organization it has a positive influence on their view of that organization.

For example, experts have noted that a major influence on a woman’s decision to accept a job offer is the presence of a woman on the interview team.

7. Look in diverse places

Your company may have a history of targeting certain schools or job boards to find talent, however, don’t discard looking in other places.

Often, you’ll find some of your best talent outside of traditional “corporate America” channels.

Think about where candidates might be spending their time as part of your outreach. For example, professional women for whom flexibility is paramount might find your job advert at a daycare center.

8. Rethink your criteria

Finally, think about the criteria you’re using to find top talent.

For example, instead of using examples of past success (e.g. working for leading companies, attending an elite school, etc.) consider looking at candidates who may have had a less traditional work history or education.

Often, you’ll find that the journey these individuals have been on points to their tenacity and resiliency…two valuable traits that can benefit both you and them.