Perhaps you’ve heard about how important it is for businesses to address issues with diversity within their workforce, but you might be thinking why hire for diversity?

What makes it so important? 

Hiring for diversity has been shown to help businesses not only compete in a global marketplace but to thrive. 

Benefits of a diverse talent pool 

Specifically, businesses that seek to diversify their workforce benefit in the following ways: 

It can lead to new…and better…business results 

When your workforce is a reflection of society at large, you gain insights that will inform the offerings you provide to your customers or clients. 

Cultures are not homogenous. A diverse workforce allows your business to reach a broad spectrum of individuals. Your employees not only bring their perspectives, talents, and skills to the workplace, but they also bring their culture. 

When you take opportunities to open up a dialogue surrounding the diverse cultures that your employees are part of you may discover new markets and/or learn how to better connect with the customers you serve. 

Improves employee retention 

Make no mistake…diversity within the workplace is not only something that businesses need to do to compete, but it’s also a key factor in reducing employee turnover. 

And as our workforce demographics shift towards more and more millennials entering the workforce, the importance of diversity in retaining employees will become even more clear than it is today. 

Deloitte University did a study titled The Radical Transformation of Diversity and Inclusion: The Millenial Influence. In their survey of nearly 3,800 individuals representing a cross-section of ages, genders, races/ethnicities, and orientations, the researchers found that “83% of millennials are actively engaged when they believe their organization fosters an inclusive culture.” 

Strengthens your customer service 

A diverse workforce can help to improve your customer service. 

How?  

By helping to build trust and confidence between your organization and the customers you serve.  

One way is through understanding cultural norms in terms of your communications. This helps you to serve your customers in the manner they expect and understand. 

In short, employees who share the same culture as your target market can provide insight into how best to communicate the benefits your company offers. 

Recruiting tactics to attract diverse talent 

  1. Start with a diverse management team

If you don’t already have a diverse management team in place you’re missing out on an easy way to not only attract diverse candidates but to retain them. 

A management team made up of diverse individuals clearly shows potential diversity candidates that you’re not just giving lip service to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace environment…you’re living it. 

  1. Be specific in job postings

Attracting diverse talent to your business begins with something as simple as not keeping your search for diverse talent a secret. 

When diverse candidates are considering your job posting they’re taking a chance on a new workplace dynamic so let them know up front that you’re actively seeking to diversify your workforce. 

  1. Word choice and outreach

Your job advertisements should state clearly the desire of the company for diverse individuals to apply. Don’t rely on standard equal opportunity statements to bring in diverse candidates. 

In other words, boilerplate language such as the EEO (equal employment opportunity) is not enough. 

Pay attention to the respondents for the jobs you’re advertising. If you don’t see a diverse pool responding to your posting, it’s time to do a few things: 

  • Reach out directly to possible diversity candidates you discover in a search rather than wait for someone to reply to your ad. 
  • Review the ad again, looking for any word choices that might cause good candidates to self opt-out. 
  • If necessary, revise your ad before continuing to run it. 
  • For example, some studies have shown that using the word “hacker” in a job posting can lead some women to opt-out of applying for it. 

Word choice is important, so if you’re not getting the diverse candidates you’re looking for this could be an issue. 

  1. Change your channels

As they say, “more of the same” leads to “more of the same”. 

Widen your talent pool by using other sources for finding diverse talent, such as: 

  • Professional organizations focused on serving diverse populations 
  • Alumni associations 
  • Networking groups 
  • Traditionally black colleges and universities 
  • Women’s colleges and universities 

When doing outreach, consider advertising in publications that cater to diverse populations to improve your chances of finding top diverse talent. 

  1. Turn a blind eye to names

Avoid any chance at unconscious bias and ask your recruiting company to blot out the names on each resume’ they provide to you. 

  1. Use a diverse interview panel

To prevent any chance of unconscious biases, ensure that your interviewing panel is made up of a diverse selection of your staff. 

  1. Tap into your employee’s networks

Let your team know what’s going on. Ask them for referrals and suggestions on getting the best results from your search for new team members. 

  1. Get creative with candidate evaluations

Have applicants write out a solution to a diversity challenge in the workplace. Not only will you get fresh ideas and perspectives on common workplace issues, but you’ll gain insight into how well a prospective employee might work with other diverse individuals. 

  1. Set specific diversity hiring goals

If a particular people group is either absent from or sorely underrepresented in your organization set specific goals to address this issue. 

This can be done by building a pipeline of individuals within the same demographic to resolve this issue. 

  1. Don’t go for the “quick hire”

Often, companies who want to fill a position quickly will simply reach out to their network. 

However, unless you and/or your team have a very diverse network of former colleagues, friends or employees, avoid tapping into these resources for new hires. 

  1. Partner with schools

Partner with educational institutions whose focus is on serving underrepresented groups.  

Work with the schools to build skills and generate interest in your industry to help create a pipeline of job candidates where none may have existed before. 

For example, if you have no female welders on your team, work with your local community college or trade school to see how they can help. 

  1. Provide targeted scholarships and internships

Offer internships and scholarships to underrepresented people groups. Partner with universities and colleges, asking them to assist you in getting the word out about your programs. 

  1. Check your brand marketing

Every piece of marketing, whether it’s your website, job advertisements, brochures, etc. should clearly convey that your company is seeking diverse candidates. 

Your marketing should also speak to potential candidates. 

It should clearly broadcast your commitment to creating an inclusive environment for all of your employees, where every viewpoint is equal in value and every individual is appreciated for who they are and what they bring to the table. 

  1. Beyond branding

Of course, your branding should always match your company’s true culture. 

Factors such as paid parental leave and/or paid holidays for diverse religions spotlight your efforts towards creating an environment where everyone can feel free to be themselves. 

Ask employees for their input and you’d be surprised what you can learn. 

In short, always be on the lookout for areas that are antithetical to diversity and strive to resolve them.  

  1. Use diverse niche job boards

Finally, in addition to your current resources, use job boards that focus on a particular demographic