Diversity has long been a topic of ‘how to be better.’ Yet, one of the biggest challenges is getting the whole team on board with what diversity challenges the company faces when looking to hire talent from differing backgrounds.
When it comes to your diversity strategy, it’s essential to understand the challenges you are up against internally, so you can effectively prepare for the best and the worst.
We asked seven experts to share the most significant challenges they’ve faced with getting their team on board with diverse hiring. Here’s how they overcame those unique obstacles:
Make sure everyone buys into your mission
“I think transparency about diversity within the hiring process is the first step of strengthening an organization’s commitment to a diverse and inclusive culture. Make sure to vocalize to the hiring team how important diversity is to the company culture. Set up systems to educate employees about the benefits of diversity and promoting inclusivity. “
Jonathan Bass, CEO & Founder at Whom Home
Before you get started in your diverse hiring goals, you must ensure your entire organization is on board. Share messaging with all teams, from HR to hiring managers, so everyone understands any changes you may implement to improve your process.
Train your team to recognize unconscious bias
“People are quick to get defensive and claim they aren’t sexist, racist, or otherwise bigoted, but we’re all capable of unconscious bias. For us, these biases meant that qualified people weren’t making it through the hiring process for reasons outside their control. We went through extensive team workshops and exercises to help everyone understand these biases and how they affect our decision-making. Since investing in training, we’ve been able to restructure our hiring process to help increase diversity. This has included broadening the number of people looking over applications, making sure job postings aren’t signaling to a specific demographic, and being mindful of the ways we’re communicating.”
Jake Hill, CEO of DebtHammer
Unconscious biases can occur at many stages in the hiring process. From resume reviews to your interview questions to the hiring manager reviews, standardize all of these places to avoid bias.
Adjust the language in your job postings
“I was unaware just how loaded and biased traditional job postings could be. This ranges from the language used, such as gender-biased words like ‘guru,’ ‘rockstar,’ or ‘ninja,’ to using cultural idioms, which can alienate certain demographics who view a job listing. Now, to address this diverse-hiring challenge, I use plain worded, gender-neutral, non-cultural references to ensure my job postings are as inclusive as possible.”
Vinay Amin, Health Expert & CEO at Eu Natural
There are lots of tools that can help you eliminate biased language in your job descriptions. Language can alienate, not just genders, but also people with disabilities and other cultural identities. Evaluate the language throughout your recruitment process, including your sourcing emails, job advertisements, and more.
Be open to candidates who don’t fit a picture in your head
“The No. 1 challenge the hiring team faces is convincing managers and hiring executives to consider candidates who have a non-traditional career path. Hiring managers may have it in their head that they want to hire someone with a degree or a career path similar to their own. Diverse candidates often come through the pipeline with exactly the right skills and abilities but without the traditional career track or educational experiences. As an HR professional, it’s my job to help the hiring manager focus on the job requirements and showing them how the candidate has the skills and knowledge to do the job, even if they learned those skills and developed that experience in a way that differs from the hiring manager’s expectations.”
Laura Handrick, contributing HR Professional at Choosing Therapy
Recruiters and hiring managers alike can fall into biased patterns. Ensure your entire hiring team understands the importance of remaining open-minded with candidates who may not have the same background as the rest of the team. Educate your leaders on the benefits of transferable skills and diverse backgrounds.
Address gender biases
“The top diversity issue we faced was gender-based. As two male co-founders, we weren’t sure how we might attract women to our company and give them an inclusive experience. We created our board of advisors and were lucky enough to have female representation on it due to a warm introduction. As we brought on our first female intern, we leaned on our female mentors to help make sure we approached conversations with our new team-member in a meaningful and relevant way. It turned out to be an incredibly successful internship experience for both of us.”
Rishav Khanal, CEO at inPerson
To continue to overcome gender bias, be sure to retain and promote women in your organization. The gender gap happens because many women get stuck at the entry-level with nowhere to move up. Create pathways in your company to bring more women into leadership to eliminate future gender bias.
Address generational biases
“We all want our workplaces to be a diverse mix of people from all walks of life. But the biggest hurdle that our company faced pertaining to diversity hiring is the generation gaps. Some of my colleagues are not keen on hiring people with age or are keen to hire people of a certain generation or a certain age bracket. But since we work in a multigenerational digital company, we discussed the pros of hiring candidates of different generations. I think with this mix of young and old, we get different perspectives and ideas where it makes our brand better at tackling and solving day to day tasks that we work on.”
Scot J Chrisman, founder and CEO at THE MEDIA HOUSE
In addition to eliminating generational discrimination, it’s also essential for your hiring team to understand the differences between the generations. What attracts them to a job or a company? What do they want out of their career? Do your research, and create hiring strategies that keep all generations in mind.
Take it a step beyond diverse hiring
“Ensure your culture is not just diverse, but equitable and promotes belonging. Diverse talent won’t want to stay (and get promoted) if the culture doesn’t support them as their most authentic self.”
Jes Osrow, Co-Founder & DEIBA Specialist at The Rise Journey
It is critical that your diverse hiring leads to a workplace where everyone has a sense of belonging. Don’t invite candidates into your organization with false ideas of what it will be like to work in your company. Once you begin to expand your teams’ diversity, make sure everyone continues to feel valued and included.