Hire Diverse Candidates: 11 Ways To Improve Diversity At Work


Your company is ready to hire, and it’s time to release the job announcement. As someone who’s in a position to sign on new employees, there are probably many things going on in your mind during this important stage in the process. However, one thing you might not have thought about is how to hire diverse candidates for your position.

Hiring a diverse range of employees is important. Perspectives from different backgrounds encourage a new way of thinking in the workplace. Diversity often inspires smart policy changes and routines. It allows employee morale to flourish. Investing in inclusion gives individuals new opportunities they may not have received due to bias at other organizations. Before you can go through the employee onboarding process with diverse employees, you need to hire them.

It’s crucial to encourage diversity across your potential new hires to ensure you’re getting the best person for the job. But how do you do that before you even talk to them? Here are 11 ways to recruit and hire diverse candidates.

1. Get Company Buy-In

Ensure that your entire organization understands the direction you are going by investing time and resources to hire diverse candidates and employees.

Leaders and managers make a huge difference on employees. There is a popular saying that people don’t leave their jobs; they leave their managers. If your employees are dealing with bad managers, this can make even the most loyal employee leave your company.

We spend another large portion of our time at work with our colleagues. Often leaders and managers aren’t even around when we chat with co-workers. It’s just as important that lower-level employees understand the importance of diversity at work.

Before you take the time to hire more diverse candidates, make sure that your team is on the same page.

Share Statistics About The Importance Of Diversity

The stats about the importance of diversity are well-reported. Here are just a few statistics to help you on your journey to getting company buy-in:

  • Racial and ethnic diversity on teams makes companies 35% more likely to perform better. (Source: McKinsey & Company)
  • Companies with diverse management teams report 19% more revenue than those that don’t. (Source: BCG Henderson Institute)
  • Diverse teams are better at making decisions. In fact, they make better decisions 87% of the time. (Source: People Management)

Brainstorm Ways To Make Each Department More Diverse

If you want to make a huge difference, encourage all managers to have a brainstorming session with their employees. How can they make their department more diverse? Once everyone has successfully brainstormed, ensure that they follow through with their ideas with their next hire. Here are some ideas of what to brainstorm:

  • Are there any organizations in our field that help women, people of color, or other minorities find jobs in our field?
  • Where do we typically recruit? What does the diversity look like with those sources?
  • Which companies in our field value diversity? What can we learn from their recruiting best practices?

2. Utilize Job Boards

A job board is a website used by companies to advertise their current available positions. There are general job boards, such as Monster or Indeed, but there are also boards for niche audiences.

Depending on your company culture, you might consider using a more diverse job board, such as Hire Autism, Diversity Working, or 70 Million Jobs.

  • Hire Autism is a platform that connects job-seekers who are on the autism spectrum, providing access to available jobs local to them.
  • Diversity Working’s mission is to help companies promote their jobs, build their brand, and send targeted and qualified diversity candidates directly to the best jobs possible.
  • 70 Million Jobs is a job board that provides access to job opportunities available to those with prior felonies or criminal backgrounds.

3. Train Recruiters Or Hiring Managers To Avoid Biases

Bias is impacting the day-to-day lives of your colleagues.

According to research done by Coqual:

  • 33% of employees who perceive bias feel alienated at work.
  • 34% of employees who feel bias have held back their ideas at work in the last six months.
  • 75% of those feeling the weight of bias say that they are not proud of their organizations.

Bias also leads to employees looking for work or planning to leave their companies.

Much of the population is unlearning biases they were exposed to early on in life. While many people try to recognize their biases and do their best, it’s important to instill training in your hiring managers to show them how to avoid bias when hiring.

There are many tests and websites dedicated to helping your team deal with implicit bias. One free resource we’ve used at WorkBright is Harvard’s Project Implicit tests. These tests, along with more knowledge and reading, can help your employees understand more about themselves and uncover any biases they might hold. It’s important to note that tests like these are a simulation, and they don’t necessarily mirror real-world scenarios. It’s important to mix tests like these with other training to give a fuller picture of bias at work.

Hiring managers are often gatekeepers for the workplace. Ensure that your recruiters are looking at a wide array of applicants to pick the best ones for the job.

4. Showcase Your Company’s Diversity Policy On Your Website

Potential employees have options when it comes to jobs in today’s market. Many candidates will research employers offering positions to ensure that their values align.

Showcasing your company’s diversity policy shows that you value different voices and what they can bring to your organization. If you want to go above and beyond, showcase that working for your organization will go beyond a cookie-cutter policy. Don’t be afraid to mix it up and showcase what diversity brings to your organization.

Besides a policy, you could also have a section on your website that shows different volunteering projects your company has done, including photos from an outreach event, or starting a blog for your company’s response to recent news.

5. Honor And Acknowledge Multiple Cultural Practices

Introduce a policy for honoring various cultural and religious practices to ensure inclusivity and tolerance for all employees.

You can do this by focusing on holidays and celebrations. Make sure that holiday parties feel inclusive. Practice acceptance when employees need to take off holidays that are different than your own cultural practices.

When employees feel satisfied with and supported in their work environment, the company benefits from higher employee retention and a greater yield in applications when hiring time comes. In turn, this produces success in the workplace and more revenue.


6. Encourage Referrals From A Wide Array Of Employees

Do you want to hire diverse candidates? Try a referral program.

Referral programs can provide several amazing applicants for your organization. But is your entire company taking advantage of your referral program? If not, it’s time to create a campaign to increase referral program usage.

Remember, referrals will come naturally when your workplace has a genuine and accepting atmosphere. This is something that has to be curated and cannot be changed overnight. Be mindful if diversity and inclusivity are new to your company. You shouldn’t push anyone to recommend your organization if they aren’t comfortable doing so.

7. Review Your Current Job Posting’s Verbiage

Writing job summaries can be tough. Job descriptions can often be the first piece of communication that someone has with your company. You want to make a great first impression on potential employees. Your goal when writing copy for job descriptions is to invite more candidates to apply.

One aspect of the job posting that many organizations get wrong is having too many requirements. You must strip down what you require so that more people apply. Did you know that most women skip job applications if they don’t meet 100% of the qualifications outlined in the job description? Often companies pad job descriptions with unnecessary skills that can be taught on the job. Consider what you need employees to know vs. what you can teach them at work when crafting job postings.

Make sure to review your current copy you have for your job posting and ensure it’s up-to-date and still accurate. Also, it’s important to make sure you’re following best practices when it comes to job descriptions.

If you’re unsure if yours is up-to-par, look at an article we wrote about what well-written job descriptions have in common.

8. Partner With Multicultural Professional Associations And Student Groups

There are hundreds of national and regional diversity professional associations and student groups. You can use these well-known and established organizations to aid your company in its employee search. Networking in these diverse communities through strategic sponsorships, thought leadership, and events can be a great way to meet potential hires. This will help your organization cast a broad net to find diverse candidates and ensure that your talent pipeline is always full.

If you need to review or start your strategic partnerships with minority student professional organizations, you can start by reviewing this list of Multicultural Professional Organizations.

9. Use Social Media To Hire Diverse Candidates

Social media helps you build your employer brand and allows you to identify and target particular candidates. For example, LinkedIn is widely considered to be the most effective diversity recruitment and sourcing tool. There are hundreds of groups on LinkedIn for almost every profession you could think of.

Beyond LinkedIn, other smaller networking platforms encourage minorities to review their experiences at companies. These platforms could also be used to the employer’s benefit. By monitoring these sites, such as Spotlight Beta, you can make sure that your company’s online presence is reputable. If you have a negative rating on these sites, consider taking this valuable feedback and improving your workplace for everyone at your organization.

10. Offer (Paid) Internships

Many young people and new college graduates get access to internships due to connections, either through family or school. These internships give them a foot in the door at companies that might otherwise be out of their reach, given their current skillset. As a large majority of these internships are unpaid or offer meager pay, they tend to disproportionately go to those from privileged backgrounds and socioeconomic groups whose family can support them financially.

Consider offering internships to underrepresented young people who have just graduated or are in their final year of college. Ensure that your internship or entry-level job pays a living wage. By proactively reaching out to diverse groups, you demonstrate that you want them as part of your organization, and you value them for considering employment with your company.

Having an internship program will open your eyes to new potential hires you never thought of before. Many interns are hired full-time after they complete a successful semester or year. It can be a great way to get to know a wide array of people before they work at your organization full-time.

11. Review The Factors That Your Company Screens For On Resumes

An important part of diversity recruiting is always questioning what traits you value most in candidates, why, and whether that’s based on your own bias.

Take the time to look at how you’re screening potential candidates. Earnestly ask yourself if you’re steering the results towards specific types of people. If you are, change your testing methods immediately. If you’re not sure, ask some of your colleagues to get a wide range of opinions.

Recruiting and screening methods change all the time. Using rubrics to grade candidates can help reduce bias, but only if the rubric isn’t biased. You should revisit your rubric before every hiring session (or at least once a year) to ensure that it helps you hire diverse candidates.

Conclusion: Hiring Diverse Candidates Is Easier Than You Think

Together, we’ve learned that not only is diversity recruitment the right thing to do, but it is also the intelligent thing to do for your company. Having a diverse roster of employees enables you to anticipate and meet the needs of people from diverse perspectives. It creates an atmosphere that supports positive relationships and communication in the workplace.

Perspectives from different backgrounds lead to a variety of ideas, knowledge, and ways of doing things. Ensuring that your team includes staff from various social and cultural backgrounds will widen the range of knowledge and approaches from which decisions are made.

By building a reputation for valuing diversity, we can attract talented employees who know that we will appreciate and utilize the skills, backgrounds, perceptions, and knowledge they bring to the table. This leads to greater commitment and higher productivity, which inevitably leads to higher company morale, success, and profits.