10 tips to kickoff your diversity recruitment strategy

Group of diverse co-workers

6 mins, 53 secs read time

Greenhouse and General Assembly recently hosted a workshop and lively discussion focused on diversity and inclusion with talent leaders from Culture Amp, Oscar Health, and Greenhouse. These pros gave insight into how to launch a diversity recruitment initiative and shared their own experiences and challenges in this important area. Here are the top actionable tips for you to make the case for and launch a diversity hiring initiative at your own organization.

Four speakers from the Launching a Diversity Recruiting Initiative panel

Rethink the way you think about diversity

1. Become comfortable with the ‘uncomfortable’ topics

Greenhouse Senior Recruiter, Katie DiCioccio kicked off the start of the workshop with a quote that left a lasting impression. Before we begin to think about making a change within our organizations, “we need to become comfortable with the ‘uncomfortable’ topics.” When addressing diversity and inclusion, we’re going to face issues that are often difficult and nuanced. We need to approach things with an open mind, and that includes rethinking our strategies and even our verbiage. “Using a term like ‘diverse person’ can make the topic alienating, as if it’s ‘us VS them.’” Katie recommended using the term “underrepresented candidate” and thinking about how these candidates will bring together unique and productive perspectives.

Create actionable steps to begin your diversity hiring initiative

2. Start by assessing what doesn’t work

It’s important to start at a place of reevaluation. Lauren Guilbeaux, People Geek at Culture Amp claimed that traditional key metrics don’t work when we’re thinking about diversity. She referenced the unholistic labeling and numbering each “type” of person. When you put people into traditional boxes, you’re not able to focus on the unique traits that bring together a blend of different perspectives. She added, “Work on defining your own key metrics specific to D&I; in your organization, and start trying new ways of assessment.”

3. Adjust your outward facing employer branding

Think about the way you’re portraying the company, from the website, to brand messaging, to pictures on Glassdoor. How are you making an impression on people? When actively sourcing, think about your messaging on your job boards. When thinking about partnerships, align with different organizations that are key to building pools of diverse talent. “We also need to diversify where we’re posting jobs listings,” Greenhouse Senior Recruiter, Ariana Moon said. She also added, “We saw a huge impact on our pipeline once we began listing jobs on diversity recruiting sites such as NAACP and Ebony.”

Marcus Cooper, Manager of Diversity and Inclusion at Oscar Health, outlined the importance of focusing on how you want people to feel when they’re interacting with your brand.

At every touch point,” Marcus added, “from the job description to the interview process, a candidate should be able to say, ‘This is a place where I can thrive.’

5. Proactively reach out to underrepresented candidates

This is one of the most important things you can do. When it comes to diversity hiring, much of the implementation exists in the first stages of the recruiting process. To make the most impact, Ariana recommended proactively reaching out to a diverse pool of applicants.

She also recommended coming up with a diversity sourcing strategy for every role. Focus less on the holistic company numbers and more on the makeup of the team you’re recruiting for. Ask what diversity looks like on that team and go after profiles that are underrepresented - the most prevalent demographics currently on that team might differ than across the company or even your industry. From there, engage with prospects and bring them into the interview process and evaluate everyone as fairly as possible.

6. Work on reducing bias in the recruiting and interview processes

We can’t fully escape our biases, but we can actively work to reduce them. When it comes to reducing bias around social class or income level, Marcus provided insight and said that “we need to invest in communities and partner with organizations that help lift those underrepresented communities. These groups can help provide a pathway into our organizations.”

It’s important to also create a recruiting experience that’s comfortable and accessible to all. We need to find ways to set all people up for success. We should standardize interview questions ahead of time for each role, as well as do our best to “be as accommodating as possible when it comes to scheduling interviews to account for those who may be working several jobs or supporting their families,” Ariana added. Fairness is key.

Don’t forget about the “I” in DE&I – Be inclusive

7. Create a “safe space” culture where vulnerability is honored and celebrated

When vulnerability is not only accepted, but celebrated, people will feel that they can be their authentic selves. When people feel they can be their true selves, they thrive and they stay. Lauren stated, “build a workspace like the one you want to live in - One that’s inclusive, intersectional and where people have a sense of belonging.” If we approach diversity and inclusion with a sense of compassion and curiosity, growth is inevitable.

Ariana claimed that “when we hire open minded people that align with our mission and values, great D&I; initiatives and groups have the chance to grow organically.” Move away from trying to find individuals who “fit” exactly into your culture. “Culture add” interviews allow us to get a sense of a person’s values. This way, you’re able to hire people that resonate with your mission who will have a desire to get the ball rolling on inclusion initiatives.

8. Tailor your messaging by audience when getting company buy-in for ERGs

Employee Resource Groups, or ERGs, are crucial to an inclusive culture. When speaking to executives about supporting ERGs, it can be helpful to tie it back to business objectives. “This doesn’t necessarily have to mean ROI,” Marcus said, “It’s a business imperative to take care of your people.” Happiness and belonging are things that make a huge difference in a person’s work life. He jokes, “even though Finance teams might see things differently.” You may have to get a bit more granular with data for your research when presenting to finance teams, but you’ll be able to display the effect that these groups have on employee satisfaction and retention.

Measure the success of your initiatives

9. Define success by creating diversity recruiting KPIs

It’s incredibly important to create diversity recruiting KPIs so that you’re able to measure success. “At Greenhouse, we look at a diversity sourcing percentage. We look at the number of hires for which we implemented a diversity sourcing tactic and divide that by overall hires per quarter,” Ariana explained, “This helps us assess our success in diversity hiring. We commit to implementing one diversity sourcing strategy in every role that we release.”

It’s crucial to utilize your resources such as Glassdoor reviews or company wide surveys. “Data can be hard to assess,” Marcus claimed, “but when you gauge someone's feelings in the process, you can’t deny it. It all means something, you just need to find the best way to process it.”

10. Be mindful when presenting D&I data and findings

You can leverage people data as a way to tell your D&I; story. “Looking at inclusion data can be emotional, so you’ll need to prepare everyone involved,” Lauren added. People will be shocked when seeing the numbers, as they can be very telling of the harsh realities of inequality or unhappiness within an organization. It’s important to present these findings in a safe space and prepare your audience for those emotions. It is going to make some people feel awkward or uncomfortable. “However,” Lauren added, “that’s ok, because uncomfort drives us to change.”

When we make an effort within our organizations to prioritize diversity and inclusion, these initiatives are able to be successful. Talking about diversity and inclusion can be a difficult thing, but the above tips from the workshop can bring you one step closer to establishing your own initiatives.

As Marcus stated before the workshop came to a close, “It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress.”

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Micah Gebreyes

Micah Gebreyes

is a Senior Manager of Content Marketing at Greenhouse where she develops and leads the content strategy for Greenhouse blogs, social media and thought leadership newsletter, Modern Recruiter. When she's not working to bring the brand story to life, she enjoys spending time with her Pomeranian, Cashew. Keep the conversation growing with Micah on LinkedIn or through the Greenhouse LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.