How to Build a Candidate Pipeline that Supports Diversity and Inclusion

Get tips for recruiting for a diverse workplace — and learn about the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion for today’s candidates.

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How to Build a Candidate Pipeline that Supports Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) matters to your employees and also for your business results. A diverse workplace supports innovation; it makes workers feel represented and valued, and can help you attract more candidates and customers.

DEI efforts start with recruiting. There are ways to position your company as one that’s focused on DEI. These include everything from adapting job description best practices to building a diverse candidate pipeline. Learn about the importance of diversity for today’s leading companies and how you can build a candidate pipeline that supports your DEI strategies.

What is diversity in the workplace?

Diversity in the workplace means employing individuals from a wide range of cultural, racial, gender, and ability backgrounds. This includes hiring team members who represent different:

  • Gender identities
  • Ages
  • Abilities
  • Races
  • Cultural backgrounds
  • Religious beliefs
  • Sexual orientations
  • Socioeconomic classes

In addition to diversity, equitable and inclusive practices ensure a workplace operates to its full potential. Equity gives every individual equal opportunity for professional advancement. Inclusion supports the creation of policies and procedures that ensure all professionals feel supported and recognized.

Why is a diverse workplace important?

First off, it’s against the law for businesses to discriminate against candidates on the basis of factors like race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information. That’s according to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which forbids discrimination in all aspects of employment, including:

  • Job descriptions
  • Recruitment
  • Application
  • Hiring

In addition to avoiding lawsuits, there are also both personal and business cases for the importance of diversity in the workplace.

First, let’s look at candidates. A 2020 survey of 2,664 adults found that 79% of job seekers said it was important they “work for a place that hires people from diverse backgrounds”. According to LinkedIn research, 75% of job seekers research a company’s brand before they apply for a job. Many job seekers look up company websites, social media channels, and reputations on sites like Glassdoor to evaluate factors like diversity.

Diversity means even more to those who are in minority categories. For example, a 2020 report by Glassdoor found the following groups report a diverse workforce matters when evaluating companies and job offers:

  • 80% of Black jobseekers
  • 80% of Hispanic jobseekers
  • 79% of LGBTQ jobseekers

Tales of discrimination at work can turn off candidates and cause current employees to quit. According to the Glassdoor survey, nearly half (49%) of Hispanic employees, 47% of Black employees, and 38% of White employees have quit a job after seeing or experiencing discrimination at work. With social media and the ability to talk about companies online, diversity problems can really hurt a brand’s reputation.

nearly half (49%) of Hispanic employees, 47% of Black employees, and 38% of White employees have quit a job after seeing or experiencing discrimination at work.

Diversity improves retention and boosts business success

For companies, diversity can improve retention, as well as business results. McKinsey & Company researched DEI efforts at more than 1,000 large companies in 15 countries. The firm found:

  • Businesses in the top 25% for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profits than businesses in the bottom 25%.
  • Businesses in the top 25% for diverse ethnicities on executive teams were 36% more likely to have above-average profits than businesses in the bottom 25%.
  • Many employees thought their companies could be doing a better job. The report found that 31% of employees had a negative sentiment about the level of diversity. For inclusion, there was a 61% negative sentiment.

It’s clear that more diversity can accelerate business results. It can also prevent your best employees from leaving your company.

How to support diversity in the candidate pipeline

Begin improving diversity efforts in recruitment and hiring processes. This will help you hire a greater number of qualified, diverse candidates. It can also help improve sentiment from your brand among applicants and help you attract better talent.

1. Make your recruitment team diverse

A diverse recruitment team can help ensure your recruitment efforts support diversity, too. Your recruiters could go beyond your HR team. You might create a referral bonus program. When you have open positions, spread the word to all your employees to encourage them to make referrals.

2. Create inclusive job postings

One of the most important job description best practices is to avoid language that candidates may view as discriminatory or that could have discriminatory effects. To create inclusive job descriptions:

  • Focus on necessities. An internal report by Hewlett Packard found while men will apply for a job if they meet at least 60% of the qualifications, women avoid applying unless they meet 100% of the criteria. For skills that the job trains on, like software mastery, skip adding them in the job description unless the skill is absolutely necessary. Focus on transferable skills instead.
  • Be careful with language. Avoid words that relate to race, language, national origin, age, and gender. For example, “fearless” or “aggressive” may seem more geared towards males, while some may view “nurturing” or “sensitive” as female-coded. “Young and energetic” discriminates against older candidates.
  • Avoid appearance-focused copy. Job descriptions that have requirements like “clean-shaven” or “professional dress” may turn off female candidates, candidates whose faith requires facial hair, or candidates with lower socioeconomic status.

Before you post a job description, have a diverse group of stakeholders review it. Ask for honest and open feedback so you can get them right.

3. Source from diverse channels

Post jobs on diverse job boards, including those targeted to women, military veterans, and racial minorities — is a great place to post.

Make sure your job openings are accessible to a diverse pool of candidates. You can take proactive steps to do this, including:

  • Partner with minority-focused colleges, like historically Black universities, to advertise your job openings
  • Post jobs on diverse job boards, including those targeted to women, military veterans, and racial minorities — is a great place to post
  • Reach out to minority organizations (a females in technology group, for example) and share your job openings with them

Also, be sure to ask all applicants you interview how they heard about the job. You may find surprising new ways to reach more diverse candidates.

4. Represent diversity in company marketing

Recruitment’s happening constantly — on your business website, on your social media channels, and in your marketing materials. How you portray your company culture to the public can make or break your recruitment efforts.

Make sure to:

  • Represent diversity in imagery and copy on your company’s About Us page, in your social media content, in marketing materials like flyers, and in advertising campaigns like billboards
  • Celebrate diversity in your content, including announcing diverse new hires and promotions, community volunteer efforts, and any awards or recognition for your DEI efforts
  • State that you’re committed to DEI, on your website, under each job description, in your social media profile bios, and in other places where your company has a presence

Your employees also market your company as representatives of your business culture. Encourage your leadership team and employees to participate in networking events, conferences, and community volunteer opportunities. Communicate your DEI mission to your staff so they can promote it to those they meet.

Diversity matters in business

The United States population is more ethnically and racially diverse than ever before. Make sure your workforce also represents more diverse individuals. Start with your recruitment efforts to build a more diverse candidate pipeline. Ensure your business:

  • Has equitable and inclusive policies within the workplace to support your current diversity efforts
  • Represents diversity in marketing and advertising materials
  • Creates inclusive job descriptions and teams to hire more diverse candidates
  • Reaches out to diverse organizations to support recruitment efforts

When you increase the diversity on your team, you show that you support your staff. You can also improve your innovation and business results for your company.

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