Many companies’ efforts to improve diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) took a hit throughout the pandemic. Now let’s make a new push for DEI.
Unfortunately, COVID-19’s effects on the workplace worsened many of the inequities that HR pros and organizational leadership had worked to lessen.
For instance, people of color were less likely to be in roles that were remote-friendly. Women with childcare duties who couldn’t take on remote roles were likely to leave work. And employees with disabilities such as hearing loss found it more difficult to work remotely, making them more likely to resign.
Losing good employees at any time is difficult. It’s even more difficult if you lose good employees who bolstered your DEI efforts.
But there are ways to get rolling again. In fact, many organizations already have boosted efforts. In the past year, hiring searches for diverse talent increased by 250%, according to a report from Hiretual.
Now’s your chance. Here are five strategies to improve DEI through recruiting and hiring in your organization now.
Broaden your view of DEI
Just 7% of employers focus DEI hiring strategies on people with disabilities (PWD), according to Monster’s Future of Work survey.
“This is a segment of the workforce that is highly skilled but is left behind,” said Monster’s Chief Human Capital Officer, Claire Barnes.
With the increasing number of remote and hybrid roles available, accessibility to work is better than ever for some people with disabilities. You can hire beyond traditional geographies and can open the virtual door to candidates who might not have been able to work in your facility.
Start with a better hiring approach.
“Ensure your career site and application process are accessible, using appropriate language in job postings, and extending remote and flexible working options beyond the pandemic,” Barnes said. “Tell all applicants in advance what the hiring process involves – for example, an interview, timed written test, or job demonstration.”
And look at what you can remove or accommodate in your process. For instance, is a written or cognitive test necessary if it eliminates a candidate with dyslexia, who could be an asset to the company?
Look to veterans
People transitioning out of the military and into civilian life and careers are an underrepresented population. They can bring diverse skills and insight to the workforce.
“Most veterans get impressive amounts of advanced training in their area of focus, and are known to be quick learners and disciplined, dedicated team players,” said Sarah Peiker, CEO of Orion Talent. “They’re used to working autonomously in stressful environments, and know how to stay focused on deadlines and the mission even in the most high stakes situations.”
That’s quite a desirable candidate. Problem is, many organizations don’t make special efforts to find military veteran candidates.
Fortunately, Peiker offered several resources to help HR pros find and recruit military veterans.
- Some colleges have Student Veterans of America chapters you can work with in your college hiring programs
- Connect with prospective hires still on active duty today through Military Transition Centers, or
- Check out Diversity in Action and US Veterans Magazine for veteran profiles and the types of roles they can fill.
Stretch your search
Almost 45% of HR pros have a difficult time reaching and finding a diverse applicant pool, according to research from Lever. So if they don’t come to you, you’ll want to increase your search to reach more or different populations.
Some ways to stretch the search in your new push for DEI:
- Get involved in more career fairs, job boards, media outlets, networking events, and affinity groups. Target those that have diverse candidates by design because of their following or geographic location.
- Tap your team’s network. If you don’t already encourage employee referrals, start to do it. And don’t be afraid to make a push for diversity. One study found that when employees recruit from their personal networks, their employers’ workplace diversity improves.
- Modernize your approach. You might attract a different pool of job candidates if you promote your jobs in video. Then share those through Instagram or Snapchat.
- Find new communities. You might work with community groups, churches, staffing firms and adult education centers to find and reach a growing population – refugees and immigrants.
Partner with marketing
Some HR leaders have created a unique partnership in recent years to improve DEI in their recruiting and hiring process. They’ve worked with Marketing to build and promote their culture so it can be marketed and sold.
You might set up regular meetings to establish and promote initiatives around the new push for DEI. Start by making sure you’re aligned on the image and brand you want to promote. It may be built from the ground-up or you might work on what’s already solid.
Rethink, redo requirements
In the new push for DEI, many companies have shifted from applicant expectations based on education to core competencies. And it’s working to attract a more diverse and talented workforce.
For one reason, employees might see themselves as candidates for jobs they would’ve never considered because they don’t have degrees. On the other side, employers get a look at candidates whose broader experience might bring something new to a role.
Companies and their leaders differ in how they present core competencies and how candidates meet those. A few approaches:
- Focus on goals. In your job description, you might focus on the goals you expect employees to reach within a certain amount of time rather than years of experience requirements. Then candidates can identify if it’s a realistic position for them.
- Loosen education expectations. Instead of requiring a diploma or degree, give more credit for years of experience. For example, if you traditionally required a college degree for a role, change it to a high school degree and five years of work experience in the related work.
- Zero in on experience. You might also increase the importance of certifications or job-related experience – a particularly helpful strategy in recruiting military veterans – and lessen the focus on role-specific degrees.
- Avoid broad requirements. Narrow in on skills that are often stated broadly in job requirements. For instance, instead of requiring good “communication skills,” make it clear you want candidates who must collaborate with teammates daily, talk to customers hourly, respond to email with proper grammar and spelling, and change assignments seamlessly. Another example: Instead of advertising a need for “technical skills,” explain the technology candidates must use, how quickly they’ll be required to master it and the expectations for using it.