Many organizations make the same comment: they have Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs in the workplace, but their hiring isn’t diverse because “Qualified diverse candidates don’t apply.”

If DEI programs in the workplace are important to your organization (and they should be), these strategies can go a long way towards building a world-class organization with a diverse workforce.

Strategy 1: Remove Geographical Barriers

If your organization is in a geographic area that lacks diversity, the local candidate pool will reflect that.

Consider these strategies to increase the diversity of your candidate pool:

  • Recruit from diverse areas and consider 1) offering relocation to new hires outside of your geographical location or 2) making the position remote
  • Leverage the location of a satellite office or subsidiary in other areas, enabling a more diverse talent pool to apply

Strategy 2: Rethink Job Descriptions

For most employers, job descriptions are a wish list, filled with both must-have and nice-to-have experience and skills. For diverse candidates, that wish list can be a barrier.

Understand that underrepresented candidates may not have had the same educational opportunities but could have the right skills. Think about whether the position really requires a college degree, graduate degree, or a certain number of years of experience. A focus on skills and competence, rather than education and experience, can broaden the candidate pool.

Strategy 3: Focus on Your Own Diversity

When potential employees visit your website or see mentions of you in the news or social media, what do they see? Do they see people who look like them? If a 50-year-old or a person of color sees a startup of white 20-somethings, are they going to apply? What do the images you display on social media and your website say about your organization? Your diversity (or lack of it) is an integral part of your brand.

Look at the messages on your website as well. Do they communicate diversity? Do they show that DEI is important to your organization?

Strategy 4: Recruit with Diversity in Mind

Many job fairs, job boards, and other events can broaden your candidate pool. If you’re hiring for specific roles, such as engineers, partner with organizations comprised of women engineers, for instance. Get a booth at job fairs on the campuses of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Go beyond the usual mass-market online job boards, and also post on those that target a more diverse workforce.

Or start an internship program in conjunction with an HBCU. Set up a mentoring program for women reentering the workforce or veterans returning to civilian life. Some of those participants may be your future employees.

Strategy 5: Build a Strong Diversity Program

Diversity training should not only help individuals understand their biases, but also illustrate why diversity is important to the organization and to their own performance as well. Uncovering personal biases enables organizations to conduct a deep dive into the messages they send. If the goal is to promote diversity, do the organization’s actions reflect that? Do managers unconsciously hire people who look like them? Are managers rewarded or praised for promoting diversity? Are women and minority employees mentored to help them succeed?

Strategy 6: Build Diversity Metrics into your Hiring Practices

An important part of DEI programs in the workplace or any initiative is establishing goals and metrics in the beginning. How will you measure your DEI initiatives? Will you have goals for and track the diversity of new hires? Will you commit to increasing the diversity of your candidate pool by establishing diversity metrics, such as requiring at least one person of color and one woman as part of your qualified candidate pool? Will you insist that interview panels include diverse hiring managers who all have an equal “vote”? Will you ask all candidates the same questions to ensure they each have an equal opportunity to impress?

Whatever your guidelines are, establish them in the beginning.

Recruiting a more diverse workforce and promoting diversity internally isn’t difficult. But it requires a commitment from every level to succeed.

The Lindenberger Group can help organizations build and manage a robust diversity program, from recruiting and training to supporting and messaging. For more information or to discuss your HR needs, please contact us at 609-730-1049 or send us an email.