Five Ways to Match Your Hiring Practices to Your DEI Goals

Hiring employees isn’t everything when it comes to DEI efforts, but it can be an important step when hitting your broader goals. Here are some strategies to keep in mind as you consider inclusion through the lens of recruiting.

Is your association encouraging a broad range of employees to join the organization—or is it trying to, and finding that the recruiting process is leaving people out?

The discussion of DEI isn’t limited to hiring, but if you’re looking to meet broader initiatives, your recruiting practices are a great place to start. Read on for a few ideas.

1. Make Sure New Hires Embrace Your Cultural Goals

“Culture fit” is not an unheard-of concept in hiring, but it’s especially important when expanding your DEI ambitions.

In a 2021 interview with Associations Now, Alexander Alonso, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, the chief knowledge officer of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), explained that hiring people who are already aligned with your broader DEI work can simplify the discussion down the road—and can help shape the conversation in ways that a leader alone cannot.

“It’s not dependent upon a leader; the leader is just one contributor,” Alonso said. “The second piece—and this is really important for people managers in particular, for hiring managers—is to hire people that we know will be culturally aligned. In other words, people who will fit the culture we need to be successful as an organization.”

2. Reconsider Your Requirements

Are your hiring requirements holding back talented potential recruits? If so, how can you shift that approach?

There are two areas to consider on this front: first, the need for a bachelor’s degree. While seen as a traditional bar for many potential employees to hit, it can exclude talented people from traditionally underrepresented and underpaid groups.

Second, there is an increasing perception in the business world that excluding ex-convicts from the recruiting process sets a damaging precedent in the long term. While traditionally seen as a red flag, it could be a barrier to inclusion that limits your talent pool.

3. Write Inclusive Job Descriptions

If you have exclusionary requirements in your job listings, your descriptions may need a bit of a rethink in general.

The message you send with your job descriptions can be a potential deterrent to hiring people who can expand your DEI approach. The website InclusionHub recommends taking a look at the language in your job listings to mitigate issues such as gender coding, age and experience bias, racial and cultural bias, and whether the listing discourages candidates with disabilities.

“For most organizations, the journey to writing more inclusive job descriptions begins with understanding which of the ‘everyday’ language choices (the ones many of us take for granted) can leave others feeling excluded or discriminated against,” the website’s Melissa DellaBartolomea wrote.

4. Expand Your Recruiting Reach

If your goal is to reach diverse new hires, it’s important to ensure that you’re actually recruiting in places where diverse talent is likely to be.

That might mean reconsidering where you put your job listings (the American Association of University Women has a great starter list of diverse job boards), but it might also mean reconsidering the job fairs you attend.

Fortune suggests one way to increase your recruiting is to target historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), which tend to have a diverse student base and can help uncover opportunities to improve DEI in your staffing strategy.

“Diversity in representation brings diversity of thought, and that in turn drives innovation,” wrote Barbara L. Adams, the business school dean at South Carolina State University.

Adams also recommended building faculty relationships with HBCUs.

5. Lean Into Diverse Referrals, Thoughtfully

If you’ve had some success in attracting new employees through other DEI recruiting initiatives, don’t be afraid to see if they’re willing to lean on their connections. Ongig noted that companies such as Pinterest, Accenture, and Intel are leveraging a referral strategy to help build diversity within their ranks.

“As the need for a diverse and inclusive workforce grows, companies are turning to employee referral programs emphasizing diverse referrals to broaden their talent pool and gain new insights to help the company grow,” Ongig’s Alexandra Carter explained.

But be careful—there is a risk that referral programs actually set back DEI initiatives if they’re not managed carefully or targeted with diversity in mind. SHRM recommends conducting an annual analysis to ensure the program is meeting your DEI goals.

(tadamichi/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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