Numerous studies have shown that diversity and inclusion in the workplace lead to a better bottom line, a happier work environment and stronger business processes.
According to one McKinsey study, companies in the “top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.” Another study, this time from Deloitte, found that diverse companies had more than 2x higher cash flow per employee over a three-year period when compared to those non-diverse companies.
At this point, the value of workplace diversity cannot be understated—it is no longer a “nice to have” but rather a “need to have.”
While there are plenty of things that should be implemented within a business to promote this important value (we’ll get to that later), it all really starts with the hiring process. You can’t lead a successful, diverse company without first employing multicultural, talented and qualified people, right?
To discover the most important actions and processes organizations can implement to increase diversity during the hiring process, we spoke to one of our very own hiring heroes at Yoh, Jameel Rush. As a Human Resources Director, he has developed international experience when it comes to instituting diversity initiatives in the workplace and is constantly identifying where companies can improve their D&I profile.
Here are his top three ways to improve diversity in hiring, and a few useful tips to help your hiring.
3 Ways to Improve Diversity in Hiring
Think Process, Not Just People
Nobody knows the stickiness of personal biases quite like the HR department and hiring managers. They’re natural, and everyone has them. But unfortunately, they’re almost impossible to train away.
Because of this, managers must rely on specific processes and systematic approaches to conducting interviews or candidate screenings, rather than letting each interviewer do their own thing to improve diversity. Conduct unbiased development programs within your organization that all hiring managers attend. Offer mock interviews and sample scenarios. Adopt blind screening techniques throughout the beginning stages of the hiring process. Even stripping out the name, university or year of graduation on an individual’s resume automatically removes any preconceived notions a manager might’ve had, and ensures that everyone has an equal shot to make it to the next step.
Another tip: be cognizant of how your job descriptions are coming across. Before publishing it to your job boards, test it out with a small diverse group of people and get some feedback. However subconscious they may be, certain words can sometimes appeal more towards men versus women. “Dominant,” for example can sometimes come off as a positive trait in males, while “compassionate” might be a term more regularly associated with women.
Metrics are a Must
Just as important as it is to set them when it comes to finances, productivity or new business, goals must also be set for diversity in hiring. Of course, it’s not always realistic to say a company will completely revamp their hiring process by 2020, but instead this should be a goal that can be worked towards slowly over time.
To begin this process, get a pulse check on your current hiring efforts and ask yourself a few questions. Are we getting the right traction of applicants? If that’s not that case, are our jobs being marketed in the right way? If you have a high volume of applicants but it’s not converting to hires, what is it about your hiring process that might be blocking people from getting through the door?
Then comes the goal setting. Depending on the industry, a fair goal could be to increase the hiring of females in the IT department by 10 percent in the next 12 months. Another may be to increase the hiring of minorities in the marketing department by 20 percent in the next 14 months. These types of measurable goals will motivate hiring managers and give them something specific to work towards.
Walk the Walk
This one goes out to all of those leading the diversity charge – it’s one thing for a company to wave a banner shouting their commitment to diversity and inclusion. It’s an entirely different thing for leaders to actually demonstrate it, day in and day out. When the importance and value of diversity is coming from the top down, the likelihood that it resonates with all employees and hiring managers rises exponentially.
However, managers will face tough calls along the way. There may be instances where there are three easy hires that can be made right away without so much as a second thought. While it may be tempting to simply get the hiring process over with, it’s up to the leaders to step in and make sure their organization is actively seeking out diversity within their applicant pool—because not doing so would be a violation of company policy. Having the right leaders making the right sacrifices is key to a successful business.
From Day 1, leaders should be instilling these diversity values across the company and making it part of the everyday conversation. Host events, partner with organizations throughout your city, hang posters throughout the offices, and promote employee resource groups.
Pro tip: you don’t actually have to be the CEO or director of HR in order to kick these initiatives off. Discuss with fellow colleagues, find out what’s possible, and share these ideas with your supervisors – chances are they could see the exact same need as you do.
Having a diverse workforce goes well beyond checking the legal compliance and good-faith box. An environment filled with many different cultures, attitudes, ideas and work styles only widens the possibilities for a successful company. If the hiring managers are prepared and know exactly what to look for, they can become key players in taking a business from good to great.
About the Author: Kevin Yurick is Director of Marketing and Communications at Yoh. He's responsible for developing and managing marketing strategies, policies and initiatives that help extend the value of Yoh’s rich content based marketing strategy more broadly. With more than 15 years of knowledge and experience in both inbound and traditional marketing, communications, and design. Kevin's love of marketing is rooted in his strong design sense and passion for branding.