Building Diversity

If you checked in with us last month, you discovered a lot about diversity, what it is, and how it benefits your company. Diverse hiring isn’t something that comes naturally — simply because it’s human nature to be drawn to the familiar.

But since building a diversified company is essential, today we move on to lessons in how to build a diverse work team. We’ll share some tried and true tips to making diversity an objective of your hiring process.

From top to entry-level: True diversity weaves its way through your entire organization.

Take a careful look at your leadership and upper management. Are you genuinely diverse – both inherently diverse, as well as acquired traits?

Internships: Many people get their first on-the-job experience through internships while in education or as an entry-level position.  Offer some internships specifically to those in groups underrepresented groups at your company and build up a diverse team.

Change-up job descriptions: Create inclusive job descriptions.

Focus more on experience (a powerful and effective teacher) than on education.

Use gender-neutral words like steady, reliable, energetic. (Unfortunately, words like strong, proven, and ambitious have taken on a subtle indication of masculinity).

Don’t Put Recruitment in a Box: While referral programs help build talent pools and potential candidates, don’t fish from only one pond.

If you hire based mostly on referrals from your current staff, you run the risk of hiring people just like your existing staff. There’s nothing wrong with your employees referring their job-seeking friends to you, but people’s social networks tend to run towards the similar. Typically, people hang out with people like them.

Instead, use online job boards, or diversity-oriented, people-focused staffing firms (that’s us!) to advertise, and post your job listings.

Go beyond the status quo: Questions on the usual recruitment stuff — their connections, their education, the companies they worked at previously can be helpful, but they have a place, they may hamper your efforts to build a diverse company.

Perhaps begin with a personality test. Are you looking for a marketing/networking representative who should possess certain positive interpersonal traits? Those scores bleed the same results, no matter ethnicity, background, or gender.

Train your hiring managers to recognize hidden bias. Set up a diverse interview panel — one that understands and can discern among the different peoples represented.

Strategize with “two in the pool.”  Statistics show that if you have only one minority candidate in the interview pool, they have zero chance of being hired. If you include at least two minority members in your pool, it increases their chance by 194x.  Having at least two women in the pool increases their chance of being hired 79x

Watch yourself for “illegal questions.” Though they may vary from state to state, there are questions illegal to ask a candidate. Some are merely invasive of privacy, some hint at discrimination. On the other hand, the information gained in the answer could be important. For example, while “Where do you live?”  is illegal because of privacy and potential discrimination of candidates in low-income neighborhoods, you can ask, “Will commuting to work each day be a problem for you?”

These tips will get you started, but don’t stop there – educate your HR. There are multitudes of articles, webinars, etc. to help you understand and hire for diversity. Connect with a reliable, top-of-the-line staffing company, such as Hamilton Connections. We are a people-focused company. We’re here to help you grow. Contact us today.