You’ve heard it before: Diverse teams are more creative, productive, and successful. And yet, even after decades of diversity initiatives and training, many companies still struggle to hire and retain a diverse workforce.
When you hire a diverse workforce, you break down stereotypes and encourage people to be themselves. A diverse workforce helps your company develop innovative solutions to complex problems.
Diversity also helps you avoid groupthink and other problems that can occur when everyone on your team comes from the same background, experiences, and perspective.
What is your company doing to hire the best, most diverse candidates? And once you’ve hired them, what are you doing to ensure open communication and collaboration among your employees?
In this guide, we reveal our top diversity recruiting strategies, so you can hire a well-diversified team of employees. We also discuss ways to improve workplace diversity and encourage retention among newly onboarded team members.
The first step in building a diverse and inclusive workforce is to develop an organizational culture that values different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. In other words, you need to be proactive about hiring a diverse workforce.
If your company is dedicated to attracting candidates from various backgrounds, you can start by researching what groups or organizations they belong to.
For example, let’s assume a company is looking to hire a team of engineers. The Society of Women Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers are two national engineering organizations that hold annual conferences, making them excellent events for recruitment.
To be proactive about hiring a diverse workforce, you need to make it a top priority for your company.
To make diversity a priority in your company, try implementing these guidelines:
If you’re going to have a successful diversity initiative, everyone needs to be on board. It should be part of your company’s core values statement, and it should be something that every employee knows about and understands.
You need to hold your organization’s leaders accountable for meeting diversity goals, and employees should go through sensitivity training to reinforce the level of respect your organization expects from its team members. It shouldn’t be a “check the box” exercise limited to HR—it’s something everyone needs to work toward.
Are you screening applicants for skills before you consider their demographic information? If not, that could be leading to an unconscious bias in your selection process.
Unconscious bias refers to the preferences we have for people who are similar to us. In an interview setting, this means that we tend to hire people who are like ourselves. This can limit diversity in the workplace and stifle innovation.
After all, an organization benefits from having multiple perspectives and diverse experiences represented among its employees.
For example, you might be more likely to hire someone who went to the same college as you, even if they aren’t as qualified as another candidate who went to a school you’re less familiar with. And if you’re only looking at recent graduates, you might be missing out on some great candidates with more experience or advanced degrees.
Double-checking your job descriptions for potential latent biases is another great way to be proactive about hiring a diverse workforce.
For example, you may prefer someone to have a bachelor’s degree for the role you’re trying to fill, but consider how much formal education is truly necessary to do the job at hand. College degrees are a financial barrier for many, and those without degrees do not necessarily offer less talent or work ethic than those who attended a university.
If you want to attract and retain diverse candidates, you need to create an inclusive workplace atmosphere.
An inclusive workplace is one where all employees are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of personal characteristics such as ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation, or age.
In an inclusive environment, people feel like they can be themselves at work. They feel comfortable sharing their ideas, and they aren’t afraid of being judged by others.
If you want a diverse workplace, you have to create an atmosphere where people of color, women, LGBTQ, and differently abled individuals feel like they can thrive alongside everyone else.
This means making sure that these groups are represented in leadership positions and visible throughout the company. It also means ensuring that the office is physically accessible for all employees.
Make training your management team in the art of inclusion a priority, because respect flows from the top down.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re the owner of a small business or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. If you hire and retain a diverse workforce, you’ll have a more innovative, successful organization.
It’s not just about diversity for the sake of diversity. It’s about opening yourself up to receiving new ideas and experiences. And that, in turn, helps you grow as a leader, improve your bottom line, and boost employee retention at the same time. In other words, hiring and retaining a diverse workforce is good business practice.
The best way to hire diverse employees is to consider a broad range of job candidates. That way, you’ll be able to find the best qualified people for each position—and reduce hiring bias along the way.
The best people don’t always come from the same background as you do, so never use your own background as the basis of what makes a good hire. Instead, hire employees based on their merits, and give each individual a fair chance to display their value as a team member every step of the way.
Our hands-on diversity recruiters have deep experience working with private, public, pre-IPO, and non-profit organizations. Clients are typically $50 million in revenue to Fortune 1000’s or have assets between $500 million to $15 billion. Successful placements span the entire C-Suite – CEO, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and include vice president, general counsel, and other director-level leadership roles.
Discover more about executive diversity search — and find out why Cowen Partners is a leader among the nation’s best diversity and inclusion executive search firms in New York City, Denver, Chicago, Austin, Seattle, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Diego, and beyond: