How to promote inclusion and belonging from the start

Portarit of a smiling happy talent maker

4 mins, 58 secs read time

Inclusion in the workplace starts with real life. “You can’t talk about diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) without touching on what’s happening in the world,” Jamie Adasi, Head of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Allyship (IDEA) at Greenhouse said at From Day One Boston. In her “Inclusive from the start: How great hiring builds cultures of belonging” presentation, Jamie started by acknowledging this fact. Whether it’s the Supreme Court’s decisions to roll back Roe v. Wade or affirmative action, book bans or the erosion of LGBTQ+ rights, Jamie said, “We’re going through a lot right now.”

Jamie also called attention to the fact that we’re seeing a smaller share of individuals and organizations working on DEIB than we did previously. When layoffs, restructuring and hiring freezes become more commonplace, DEIB roles are often the first to be impacted. Jamie said she wanted to bring these topics to light, to recognize the environment DEIB professionals are currently facing and provide some actionable steps for attendees.

Wish you’d had the chance to attend this session live? Don’t worry – we’ll share the highlights and key takeaways here.

The good, the bad and the ghosting of it all

To set the stage, Jamie shared some recent research from Greenhouse: 78% of underrepresented candidates say they’ve been ghosted after interviews. This number is even more eye-opening when compared to the (significantly smaller) number of white candidates who have had the same experience – 62%.

If your company is committing to DEIB, it’s critical to ensure that you’re doing your best to keep candidates informed of their application status and create an equitable experience for candidates from all backgrounds.

Jamie called attention to some of the other best practices for prioritizing DEIB, including:

  • Having conversations internally and consulting with experts about what diversity means at your company. Keep in mind that there’s no single template – diversity will look different at a US office compared to one in EMEA, for example.
  • Setting benchmarks and workplace representation goals so you have something to measure against.
  • Ensuring you have diverse hiring and interview teams. This is an area where you can turn to your employee resource groups (ERGs) for more support.

Being realistic about the role of ERGs

Speaking of ERGs, make sure to be realistic about what you’re asking these groups to do. While they can absolutely be tapped to help make your hiring process more inclusive, be careful not to assume that they can do it all, warned Jamie. “Think of them as co-partners; not drivers.”

Here are a few of the tips Jamie shared for ERG success.

Set concrete goals for your ERGs

At Greenhouse, ERGs are referred to as “Arbors” and each Arbor has business imperatives, objectives and key performance indicators attached to initiatives.

Connecting the Arbors to real business results is one way of ensuring they maintain momentum and support and aren’t just considered a 'nice to have.'
– Jamie Adasi, Greenhouse Head of IDEA

Involve ERG leaders in hiring

Greenhouse Arbor leaders help with employee referrals and talent making activities like speaking at conferences or meetups. Not only are they strengthening their own networks, but they’re helping build Greenhouse’s employer brand at the same time. Jamie emphasized the fact that at Greenhouse we believe everyone can be a Talent Maker – whether you’re a hiring manager or not.

Incentivize ERG participation

Don’t simply expect people to participate in ERGs because they identify with a specific community. Being involved is extra work and should be treated as such. Jamie shared that Greenhouse offers equity for Arbor leaders (in addition to other benefits like close partnership with executives, company-wide visibility and professional development opportunities).

If you’d like to learn more about ERGs and how your company can set them up for success, check out this blog post on building an ERG that supports your people and your business.

Mini case study: How Greenhouse prioritizes DEIB

Every touchpoint you have with a candidate is a chance to promote inclusion in the workplace. At Greenhouse, we believe structured interviewing is the foundation of being inclusive throughout the hiring process. By defining the qualities that lead to success and assessing candidates for those qualities, you level the playing field for candidates from different backgrounds.

But our DEIB journey is far from complete. Jamie shared an example from when she first arrived at Greenhouse. At that time, the company was struggling to attract diverse inbound applicants and the company’s executive leadership team was 95% white.

Jamie worked closely with the Talent Planning & Acquisition team to diversify the candidate pool. One of the most successful initiatives involved moving away from relying on inbound candidates and switching to more proactive sourcing with a DEIB focus.

Jamie added that a commitment to DEIB starts at the top. Companies wondering how to promote inclusion in the workplace must commit to hiring leaders from diverse backgrounds. Setting DEIB goals for executives and other leaders is one effective way to influence the rest of the organization.

Keep the conversation going

As Jamie mentioned at the beginning of her talk, it’s not an easy time to be a DEIB professional. But there is some good news: The majority of US workers say focusing on DEIB at work is a good thing. If you’re in that majority, consider how you might take some of the steps Jamie outlined here to support your company’s DEIB initiatives. We all have a part to play, whether as recruiters, hiring managers and especially as leaders.

Looking for additional support to help you prioritize DEIB (or maybe just looking to enjoy a recruiting-themed cocktail)? Come chat with Greenhouse at HR Tech and join our happy hour to learn how we can help you create a more equitable hiring and onboarding experience.

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Ben McNelly

Ben McNelly

is a Product Marketing Manager at Greenhouse, where he works closely with our partnerships and product teams to deliver new features to customers. Prior to Greenhouse, Ben worked in K-12 education technology and nonprofit serving educators and students. He lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, and can probably be found in the kitchen trying a new recipe when he’s not working. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.