Recruiting Habits the Will Improve Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Tech
Almost seven years ago, Silicon Valley’s biggest names—Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon, and others—published the demographics of their workforces and committed to improving representation in their companies. At the time, it felt like a big step forward in accountability and transparency, and many hoped tracking and publishing the data would lead to more inclusive decisions in the future. But in 2021, tech and other industries still have ground to cover when it comes to making their employee communities and their executive leadership more diverse.
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) have always been important in the workspace, but last summer, stories of racial inequality made big headlines and opened a new dialogue about inclusion and parity in the United States. And this heightened focus on DE&I shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, employees, leaders and consumers alike are hungry to see more diversity in the future. The significance of DE&I can’t be understated. From the impact DE&I can bring to your employee culture to the competitive edge it brings your company, there seems to be universal agreement that improved DE&I will benefit industries and communities.
But how do you build a recruiting strategy that encourages DE&I at all levels? How do you find the talent you need? In tech, in particular, some positions are so specialized, the talent margins so thin that diversity in a candidate pool can be hard to find. What then? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Know what you’re missing
A clear understanding of where you are is most always the first step toward meaningful change. If you don’t have a good view of representation in your company, it will be difficult to create a strategy for where to start. What does your employee data tell you about your current employee demographics? Some companies are lacking representation in areas where others are not. Maybe you have rich diversity among your individual contributors, but your leaders higher up the ladder lack representation. Maybe you have racial diversity but not diverse perspectives from the LGBTQ+ space. Maybe you lack representation of people from different socioeconomic backgrounds—whatever the gaps, measure and understand them. If you know what you’re missing, then you can work with a Recruiter to reach untapped talent pools.
Get comfortable with asking for a diverse candidate pool
Once you know what you’re looking for to round out your employee community, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Recruiters are used to getting a “wish list” of things that hiring managers would like to see in a candidate, so don’t be shy about asking them to search diverse candidate pools. Let them know where you see gaps in your current company demographics and tell them you expect to improve. Ask their strategies for tapping into HBCU networks, for example. Explore how they vet candidates to ensure they’re not all from the same talent pipelines. And then hold them accountable for bringing you candidates that represent a wide, diverse pool of talent.
Hire leaders that prioritize DE&I, especially those that can roll up their sleeves and train the next wave of talent
Truth be told, the diverse pool of talent that you want today might not exist yet. Sometimes you can turn over every rock, and still not find that combination of diverse representation and required training or background. You’ve heard about the recruiting strategies of borrow or buying talent, but don’t forget about building it. If you can’t buy or borrow the diverse talent you’re looking for, it is in your best interest to find a way to grow that talent.
How? Hire leaders who are committed to DE&I long term. Find or hire leaders across your organization that are passionate about identifying and nurturing your next wave of diverse talent. Bring in diverse candidates who are open to learning and eager to develop, and create a talent development strategy to chart a course to realize the representation you’d like to see over time. The long-term benefits of growing talent within your company could be game changing. Home-grown talent tends to be more engaged and stay longer.
Regardless of how you tackle your gaps in representation, it’s important that you create a strategy to do so. Your employees are going to notice the talent you seek out and bring onboard. And the pressure employers are getting from their workforces to embrace and enhance representation at every level is not going to change. Employees may choose to leave companies that lack diversity. In short, those companies that don’t prioritize DE&I could be left behind before too long.