Diversity Recruiting: 4 Critical Steps to Attract More Diverse Candidates

It’s been one year since the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, which sparked a social justice awakening and inspired many organizations to strengthen their focus on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I). On the one-year anniversary of this horrific event, it’s a great reminder for organizations to revisit their diversity goals, check in on what progress has been made and build an action plan to ensure continued momentum.

We frequently hear the following question from our clients: How can we attract more diverse candidates to come work for us?

In this blog, we’ll explore our approach to Diversity Recruiting and what you can do to immediately increase the diversity of your applicant pool.

But first, what is diversity in the workplace? This is when an organization employs a diverse team of people that is reflective of the community in which it operates. It’s important to note that diversity is more than race or gender – it is inclusive of age, race, education, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, socio-economic status and nationality.

So, what is diversity recruiting? This is a targeted approach to developing a recruiting strategy designed to attract a highly qualified and diverse candidate pool aligned with the your diversity goals.

While the focus on DE&I in the workplace has increased over this past year, there are still significant gaps between what employees and job seekers are looking for and what workplaces are delivering. The Glassdoor D&I workplace study from Fall 2020 highlights:

  • 63% of employees say their company could be doing more to increase the diversity of its workforce.
  • 76% of job seekers ranked workforce diversity as paramount to their job search.

Applicants and employees want to work for organizations who value diversity. Further, research proves that diverse teams enable richer creativity, innovation and decision-making practices throughout the organization. Whereas homogeneous teams are more likely to get stuck in “groupthink,” which in the long term, can make the organization decreasingly relevant and less viable.  

We know Diversity Recruiting can be daunting for hiring managers because they may be afraid to say and do the wrong thing. Having a structured and objective process provides them with the necessary guidance to navigate the gray areas and implement new practices.   

Below we share our approach to Diversity Recruiting and actionable tips you can implement immediately.

Step 1: Diversity Readiness & Preparation

Start by ensuring you have a solid understanding your current workforce and how it compares to your community. First, assess the makeup of your workforce, identify where you have underrepresented groups and then align your DE&I goals and objectives with the specific recruitment need. For example, if you have a position open on the Accounting team, and that team is primarily made up of white males today, focus your recruitment effort on attracting female and minority applicants to help balance the makeup of that team.

Second, in support of these goals, take a hard look at how ready the organization is to embrace hires who come from different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives.  Will they feel comfortable? Does the organization need to make some adjustments to ensure everyone thrives?

What’s involved:

  • Determine the overall DE&I goals and objectives for the organization.
  • Identify where there is underrepresentation in your workforce and design a diversity recruitment campaign to focus on those gaps.
  • Evaluate the organization’s culture, policies and processes to ensure there is a strong foundation to support a diverse workforce. This includes an honest assessment of how committed and prepared key leaders are, since they set the tone.
  • Create an action plan to address the gaps uncovered in the readiness assessment.

Step 2: Sourcing Strategy and Planning

The goal is to attract a wider, more diverse pool of applicants. To accomplish this, you need a purposeful sourcing strategy specific to the diversity goals identified in Step 1. Once you know “who” you are looking for, then you can figure out where and how to connect with them.

Many employers use online job boards to reach a broad pool of candidates. To compliment this, use other sources specific to your target candidates. For example, if an engineering firm has a goal to increase representation of females in their organization, they should consider promoting their openings with the Society of Women Engineers, a professional association for women in the engineering industry. Broad-based methods, complimented by targeted outreach, take the candidate sourcing strategy to a deeper level resulting in the ability to reach a broader pool of potential applicants.

Further, employers should have a strong “value proposition” for potential candidates and a clear diversity statement, which shows the organization is committed to diversity. Make sure the job ad and careers page highlights your position on diversity and why it is important to your organization.

What’s Involved:

  • Articulate the organization’s DE&I value proposition.
  • Update the job ad template and careers page accordingly. Candidates are particularly interested to understand the company’s position on diversity and what they can expect as an employee at the organization.
  • Build a targeted outreach strategy to support diversity goals.

Step 3: Interview and Selection

At this point in the process, you’ve ideally sourced several qualified candidates who also contribute to the company’s diversity goals. To ensure a fair, equitable and defensible hiring process, employers should develop a structured, objective interview and selection process.

Start by evaluating the tools used to interview and select candidates. Each position should have a unique set of interview questions designed to assess the candidate’s competencies against the desired duties and qualifications for the role. Each interview guide should have an objective scoring method to rate the applicant. (Important Note: This doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to ask relevant follow up questions in an interview; building rapport and active listening are important. Rather, this approach keeps people focused, which helps ensure the candidates’ experiences and evaluations are consistent.)

To prepare hiring managers and interview teams, employers should conduct a two-part training: 1) bias training to create a greater awareness of implicit biases and 2) process training on the interview guide, illegal interview questions and how to use the objective scoring method.

What’s involved:

  • Build an interview team that includes diverse representation in order to include multiple perspectives in the interview process.
  • Train all hiring managers and interview team members on implicit bias and DE&I language so that the team can be as inclusive and objective as possible.
  • Prepare a standard interview guide for each position and use an objective scoring method to avoid bias.

Step 4: New Hire Onboarding

Get ready to onboard your new employee! Research suggests that structured onboarding processes accelerate employee contribution and create higher levels of engagement and retention in the long-term.

Additionally, employers need to live up to the value proposition they touted in the hiring process! Make sure your organization is ready to welcome your new hire by completing the corrective actions identified in the readiness assessment. Consider conducting a training for all employees on how to be welcoming and create an inclusive work environment with a focus on building trust, open communication and respect.

What’s involved:

  • Develop a detailed 90-day onboarding plan.
  • Complete the corrective actions identified in the DE&I readiness assessment.
  • Deliver a DE&I focused training to all employees on how to create an inclusive work environment.

Quick Tips: what you can do immediately to increase the diversity of your candidate pool

  • Remove bias language in job postings: without realizing it, we often use language in job postings that is subtly “gender coded.” Use a gender decoder to test the language in your job ads, found here.
  • Skills Based Hiring: structure the hiring process around the competencies needed for the position vs. credentials (such as education, certifications, etc.). Re-evaluate the qualifications necessary to be successful in the position to base it off the experience and skills needed and remove credential requirements when possible.

In closing, Diversity Recruiting provides a structured approach for organizations to increase the diversity of their workforce. Since the process works one hire at a time, remember that change will take time. Maintain a long-term focus to keep the momentum. Start small by understanding your current practices and implementing one tactic to make progress increasing the diversity of your workforce.


Solvere HR Consulting provides practical HR solutions that optimize your organizational capability and profitability through your most valuable asset — your employees. Learn more about us at www.solverehr.com.