As recruiters, we have an unprecedented opportunity to impact a company’s diversity and equity efforts. We’re on the front lines for hiring, conducting initial candidate screenings and deciding who does – and who doesn’t – get recommended for a role. This is a position of tremendous power, and it’s one we need to use with thoughtfulness and intentionality, in close partnership with client diversity and equity hiring goals.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: What Do These Mean for Hiring and Promotion?
Diversity is the representation of all our varied identities and differences, including – but not limited to – race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity. Equity seeks to ensure fair treatment through access to opportunity and equality in opportunity. Here’s another way to consider this: Diversity asks, “Who’s in the room?” and Equity responds, “Who’s trying to get in the room but can’t?” As recruiters, we can only help our clients achieve their diversity goals if we proactively strive for equity in our recruitment efforts– ensuring all qualified candidates can get fair access for consideration.
There’s a third piece to this: inclusion. Inclusion is building a culture of belonging by actively inviting the contribution and participation of all employees. Inclusion is what happens once a candidate is hired. In the conversation with Diversity and Equity, Inclusion asks, “Have everyone’s ideas been heard?” Inclusion initiatives are essential to ensuring all talented professionals have a fair opportunity to contribute and drive business success.
Diversity & Equity in Hiring: 2 Questions Companies Must Ask
The approach I’ve been taking with diversity hiring conversations comes from conversations with various contacts and colleagues. One in particular, Emma Nwokonko, made a great recommendation, and it involves asking a client two key questions. These questions are vital to moving beyond “diversity for diversity’s sake,” where a focus on appearing diverse takes priority to true inclusion.
What does diversity mean to my company and why is this important?
If you go to any HR department in the country, they’ll say they’re pro-diversity hiring, and they may even have a current diversity initiative. This is an important first step, but we can do better by asking what and why. When the answers to these questions tie back to your company’s mission and vision, diversity goes from being an ad-hoc hiring initiative to a deeply ingrained goal in your company’s culture.
For example, one client told me their goal in diversity hiring was to make their boardrooms look more like the communities they serve. That’s a powerful purpose. This client felt like they misrepresented their local community from a diversity standpoint. Their most senior employees tended to be white males, which didn’t reflect the makeup of the communities they served. A more diverse senior staff wasn’t just the “right thing to do”– it was also essential to the company being a more effective business.
The point of business is to be competitive. We can’t do that if we’re not getting the most out of everyone’s backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints. Diverse teams not only provide a broader perspective but they also improve productivity, innovation and engagement. The more diverse we are, the more effective we are.
How can we assess diversity hiring initiatives and use feedback to improve?
Diversity hiring policies should be treated like any business need: set a goal, determine benchmarks, and create a feedback loop for improvement. A good starting point is assessing your company’s current hiring process. This is also where a recruiter can help. If your company historically fills mission-critical positions through employee referrals, for example, you’re limited by the breadth and depth of your employees’ networks. A recruiter can thoughtfully and deliberately expand your talent pool.
If your diversity initiatives primarily focus on entry or mid-level positions, consider opportunities for bringing greater diversity to senior management. In tech, for example, women are historically underrepresented in senior positions. Only 12% of all computing jobs are held by women, according to the 2020 State of Women in Tech Report. Turnover rates are twice as high for women as for men, 41% versus 17%. Women hold just 5% of tech leadership positions. Until recently, major tech companies did not historically report stats on the intersection of race and gender. Slack’s 2016 diversity report was one of the first, and we have a long way to go towards better representation as an industry.
Recruiters can help improve gender inclusion by proactively considering female candidates for mid-level and senior-level positions. Your company may wish to set candidate gender goals, such as asking for a 50-50 split on a candidate list. These diversity hiring initiatives are just the first step. Consider how current company culture may create barriers to advancement and how efforts like mentorship and paid parental leave can help close these gaps.
At Lucas Group, we’re working to build a proactive and purposeful approach toward diversity. We’re continuing to listen, educate, and amplify diverse voices. We serve as an ally for our Associates, candidates and clients.
How is your business assessing its D&I policies or evolving hiring approaches? I invite you to share your perspective in the comments below.