The makeup of America is evolving, and so is the way we work. Shifting demographic and immigration patterns have changed the composition of the U.S. population to include a much wider range of ethnicities, cultures, genders, ages, and abilities. In order to keep pace with changing market demands dictated by a diversified consumer base, employers must adopt business practices that acknowledge the value of workers from blended backgrounds when serving the needs of customers with the same interests and experiences.
When we talk about diversity in hiring, it’s important to recognize that diversity in this sense encompasses more than physical differences among workers. Yes, physical attributes such as age, gender, race, and mobility have a major effect on an individual’s cultural identity; but, so do non-visible characteristics like marital status, religion, language, sexual-orientation, and social class. In order to maintain an edge against the competition, organizations have to attract and hire the best talent out there and make sure that every candidate is screened, selected, and welcomed on the basis of merit and fairness to support this initiative.
Hiring for diversity does a lot more than allow employers to claim progressive HR practices; it provides real bottom-line results. When employees feel encouraged to be their whole, genuine selves at work, it helps productivity and creativity while fostering a company culture many quality candidates find attractive. The point of bringing new people into the organization is to introduce new perspectives. What’s interesting is that different types of people don’t necessarily lead directly to the introduction and adoption of different perspectives. Research suggests that the presence of social diversity creates an environment where people are more comfortable both voicing their own points of view and listening to others. Everyone works a little harder to push ideas forward that benefit the entire group, even if those ideas vary from typical consensus. Whether developing a new product, designing a new marketing strategy, or bettering internal processes, diversity challenges coworkers to be more thoughtful and aware of alternate viewpoints.
The development of a company culture that fosters open discussion and collaboration is just one of the business benefits of a diversity-conscious hiring strategy, in addition to increased productivity, innovation, and sales revenue. For example, research has found that every 1% increase in racial diversity correlates with a 9% increase in sales revenue. Service-oriented industries especially benefit from a more culturally varied workforce because customers, who are more representative of the general population, want to relate to brands and feel more comfortable knowing their needs will be understood and addressed appropriately.
Realizing that an assorted employee base gives organizations an edge over the competition, the challenge for employers is to create a strategy that attracts many different kinds of people and sets them up for success after they’re hired. Based on the company’s objectives, any combination of the following methods should help get recruiters on the right path.
• Try a blind hiring method using your applicant tracking system (ATS). The most common aspect of this strategy is the removal of candidates’ names from resumes; but, you can also exclude other personal information in the interest of fairness including graduation years, college names, and addresses.
• Be mindful of the “two in the pool” effect. Research suggests that when the final candidate pool holds only one candidate from a demographic minority group, that candidate has very little chance of getting hired. However, if there are at least two women in the final candidate pool, for example, the odds of hiring a woman are 79 times greater. If there are least two people of color in the final candidate pool, the odds of hiring a person of color are 194 times greater.
• Be culturally sensitive when considering the language and visuals included in job descriptions. According to applicant tracking system consultancy Software Advice, more than half of job seekers are more attracted to companies that include images and videos in their postings and career portals. Whether showcasing your existing workplace diversity or the one you hope to achieve, be sure to choose content carefully to demonstrate teams, leadership, and top performers from different walks of life.
• Although employee referrals are sometimes criticized for homogenizing workers within an organization, referrals encouraged from a more diverse array of employees can actually work to your advantage. Additionally, growing employees internally starting with an assorted internship pool can lead to a better mix of hires at the entry-level.
• Lastly, when measuring diversity initiatives, don’t limit tracking to year-over-year hiring rate comparisons. If you measure the number of candidates per source, you can use that data to make smarter, more effective hiring investments in the future.
Raquel Lawrence is a Content Strategy Associate II at iCIMS, Inc.
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