Workforce diversity, whether it’s gender, ethnic, or age diversity, is often linked to strong organizational performance. Other benefits of workforce diversity are the fact that it drives innovation, creates skill diversity and that it makes your company more appealing to a broader customer and candidate demographic.
But how do you go about actually building a diverse workforce?
That’s what we’ll take a look at in this article that’s based on a recently launched eBook on Diversity Hiring. We’ll give you a practical, 7-step overview of how you can reach your workforce diversity goals.
The workforce diversity plan
Identify the make-up of your organization
Set the right roles and responsibilities
Look for diverse sourcing channels
Partner with different communities for diverse outreach
Implement bias-free recruiting practices
Provide a discrimination-free workplace
Constantly monitor, evaluate and optimize your efforts
The workforce diversity plan
First off, you need an actionable, achievable workforce diversity plan. While this may sound simple, it’s something that tends to go wrong quite often. Common pitfalls include:
- Not correctly identifying the make-up of your organization
- Not having a diverse planning committee
- Not having data on retention
- Not setting practical goals
If we zoom in on the workforce diversity goals companies are setting we see that organizations have a tendency of being too vague. Think for instance of ‘goals’ like this:
- Attract and recruit a diverse workforce
- Develop and retain a diverse workforce
- Provide equal employment opportunities to everyone
A strong workforce diversity plan includes objectives that are practical and have a clearly defined timeline. They should look like this:
- This time next year, we’ve got a 3% representation of people with a disability
- Starting six months from now, we’ll provide half-yearly cultural-awareness training for all leaders
- By next year, we’ve launched a collaboration with at least two Women in Tech organizations
In short, creating an actionable workforce diversity plan requires extensive research, collaboration, and a step-by-step implementation. Let’s take a look at those 10 steps now.
1. Identify the make-up of your organization
First, you need to know the make-up of your organization in terms of race, gender, age, geography, etc. To get a clear overview, answer the following questions (this is not an exhaustive list):
- What is the minority representation (Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, etc.) in every team setup?
- How many women do you have in senior leadership roles?
- Does your management largely consist of employees from a particular community or religion?
Having credible data on the make-up of your organization will help you identify the areas you should focus on and around which your workforce diversity plan can be built. The data can, for instance, reveal that your hiring team finds it hard to find diverse candidates for certain roles or that some of your managers have a record of showing gender-bias.
2. Set the right roles and responsibilities
To ensure that your plan is implemented correctly, it’s important that those involved know what to do. In other words: set up explicit action items for everyone; from the diversity hiring lead, manager, and recruitment team, to all employees, HR & operations.
For a detailed overview of roles and responsibilities, check out the eBook on Diversity Hiring.
3. Look for diverse sourcing channels
This one sounds obvious when you think of it, right? Looking for diverse sourcing channels means:
Using diversity job boards – Think for instance of Women in Tech, IMB Diversity, and the Black Career Network.
Employee referral solutions – Referrals can be a great way to get diverse hires which is why more and more companies use referral program software to attract candidates and diversify their hiring efforts.
Specialized diversity referral platforms prompt candidates to look beyond their traditional networks and drive referrals not just from close friends, but also from other people in their social network, email lists, etc. As these platforms are data-driven they land even more diverse referrals than the traditional employee referral program. Examples of diversity referral platforms are Talentdome, Aevy and Role Point.
Attending diversity job fairs – Examples in the US are Wonder Women Tech, the Bay Area Diversity Job Fair and the New York Diversity Job Fair. It’s also important to attend diversity events because they are a good way to help you build your brand image through strategic partnerships.
Collaborating with state employment agencies and local meet-ups – Partnering with both state employment agencies and local meet-up groups is a great way to expand your diversity hiring efforts. Don’t forget to share your job openings with them.
Connect with local universities and schools – This one is especially interesting for companies looking to hire graduates.
4. Partner with different communities for diverse outreach
If you want your diversity hiring program to be successful, you need to make sure it represents the communities you operate in and that you understand their concerns. How? By partnering with them.
5. Implement bias-free recruiting practices
To achieve your workforce diversity goals it’s important that you implement bias-free recruiting practices using the right technology, language, and communication. A few examples:
- Blind interviewing
- Use diversity-friendly job descriptions (using a tool like Textio for example)
- Use the same interview questions for every candidate
- Use diverse sourcing channels to prepare a robust pipeline
- Have more minority representation in your hiring team
6. Provide a discrimination-free workplace
To retain employees from under-represented communities, it’s essential to provide an inclusive workplace that doesn’t discriminate based on age, race, religion, demography, gender, sex, marriage, etc. A few tips:
- Hold bias-free recruitment sessions for managers and recruiters
- Include a section on your company’s stand on discrimination, harassment, etc. in your employee handbook
- Organize training for employees on respect & inclusion, unconscious bias, anti-discrimination etc.
7. Constantly monitor, evaluate and optimize your efforts
If you want to know if your diversity and inclusion efforts are working, you need to monitor and evaluate your initiatives. You can do so via:
- Quarterly employee satisfaction surveys
- Monthly one-on-ones with hiring managers
- Half-yearly meetings with all the stakeholders
Some of the metrics to keep track of are:
- Increased representation of minorities at different levels of the firm
- Better retention
- A decrease in pay disparities
- Fewer discrimination complaints
- Improved productivity
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