Every employer wants a diverse workforce. The problem is, it takes time and effort to build one. There’s more to it than just searching for employees that you consider to be diverse—to really assemble a team of people with unique skills and life experiences, you’ll have to change up the way that your hiring process works.
As someone who has done this and reaped the benefits, I have a few areas that employers looking to create a diverse workforce can focus on. These areas have nothing to do with the candidates and everything to do with how we as hiring professionals seek out talent—and how our search methods might be barring the perfect candidates from even applying!
Many employers—many people, rather—boil diversity down to visible elements, like someone’s gender or skin color. These are by no means superficial, but to limit our definition of diversity down to just the traits that we can see does a disservice to our hiring process and the applicants who present themselves to us.
We need to redefine what we’re looking for when we set out to try and build a diverse workforce. Employees contain multitudes and each multitude can serve to better our workplace. For instance, the income level an employee is at or grew up in will give them a unique perspective. The area they come from will give them a mindset different from many others on your staff. People who are from the LGBT community, immigrants to the United States, or even on the Autism spectrum all have a role to serve in creating a diverse space where everyone can be as fulfilled and productive as possible.
Realize though, that diversity is not just a tool you can utilize. To assemble the diverse workforce you’re aiming for, you need to put the work in and make sure your workplace is a welcoming area where diverse employees will feel comfortable lending their voices to the conversation.
We, unfortunately, do not live in a fair or equitable world—even though many of us are trying actively to correct that. Not everybody will have had the opportunity to acquire the sills you’re looking to see on a resume. But just because they don’t have a degree or prior work experience doesn’t mean they can’t fulfill the job.
Let’s hypothesis that you’re hiring for an IT position—something related to hardware, to be specific. Someone with a lifelong hobby of building custom personal computers (which is becoming increasingly common as the parts become less expensive) likely has more experience than the person with the four-year degree. And yet, only one of these candidates would appear to be qualified if we were basing our judgement strictly off of a resume.
This is why I advocate for excising resumes from the hiring process. They not only limit the available information about the applicant, but they force the applicant oftentimes to sell themselves short and create a narrative in the mind of employers based on incomplete data. Replacing resumes with pre-hire assessments allows the candidate to relay more information about themselves in the application process and gives you a clearer picture of who would be the greatest benefit to your company.
Reword Your Job Posting
Even though you might be hiring with diversity in mind, your job posting might be actively working against you. People are very easily turned away. The thought of rejection or failure keeps many a qualified applicant from even submitting their resume.
Say, for instance, if your job description requires eight years experience but a candidate only has five? The chances are that they just won’t apply. The same goes for if a potential applicant doesn’t have one of the skills you outline in your job description, they simply won’t apply; even if they do fit the bill in all the other areas. This is especially true for women and people of color, who feel extra pressure to be stand out candidates, and often will forgo applying unless they feel absolutely certain they’ll get called in for an interview.
This kind of unintentional gatekeeping harms jobseekers from marginalized communities and it hurts businesses, who will never get the chance to be better for having hired a diverse and multifaceted group of employees. I hope with these three points I’ve demonstrated how improving your hiring process to include more diverse candidates will require a top-down approach. Everything needs to be at least subtly changed. It might not be an easy task, but it will be one that benefits your company in the long run.
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