As the economics of business changes, corporations need to reevaluate their talent strategy to compete globally. Diversity is a business imperative and not just “the right thing to do.” Building a more inclusive workforce offers different perspectives and provides the innovation, creativity, and acceleration of positive change that companies need to ensure long-term success.
McKinsey’s latest research report, Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters links organizational diversity (mainly racial/ethnic and gender) to greater profitability. Its findings reaffirm diversity should not be an HR deliverable; it must be connected to leadership accountability.
When it comes to building a diverse talent strategy, a business must consciously build diversity at the core of everything they do, starting with inclusive hiring. Start by conducting equity audits of your talent processes, including talent acquisition, growth, and pay to unearth disparities and inequities.
Another critical component for hiring is adding behavioral interview questions to support an equitable, inclusive process. The STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method is designed to gather relevant information about job candidates to better predict future performance based on past behavior. Prospective candidates are asked to provide concrete examples of their competencies, skills, and values. Below are examples of questions that focus on culture add and working in diverse teams.
- Tell us about a difficult situation you have faced working cooperatively with someone who did not share your ideas, values, or beliefs?
- As a manager, how do you encourage your team to honor colleagues, clients, and/or vendors’ uniqueness?
Despite personally liking the STAR method, I have found there are some restrictions if misapplied. For instance, if the questions are not customized to the role and business needs, it’s difficult to hone in or dig deeper due to time constraints.
Additionally, communicate that interview training is a business-critical skill that all company members must learn. Hiring managers know how to discern skills, but when it comes to understanding past behavior or combating biases, they often lack the experience. For example, the hiring manager’s notion of “culture fit,” often creates bias toward homogeneity i.e. “Paul is someone I can have a beer with.” By making the shift from “culture fit” to “culture add” you can engage candidates from a variety of different backgrounds and demographics. Therefore, if you’re interested in adding behavioral and value-based questions, it’s essential to invest in training to limit bias.
While there’s no quick fix when it comes to diversity, here are seven ways to build a more inclusive pipeline and workforce:
1. It’s critical that your team’s behaviors are aligned with your values. Regularly revisit your values to ensure they reflect the current state of your culture. Share specific actions or strides your company has made (i.e., “walk the talk”).
2. Set specific diversity interviewing and hiring target per department. Ensure that your intended outcomes are narrow in focus and realistic. While having D&I targets is great, incorporating your journey through employer branding materials (website, blog, social media channels) with accomplishments and employee testimonials will likely resonate more with diverse audiences.
3. Explore recruits outside of your employees’ networks and target niche communities, specialist networks, websites, and job boards to attract diverse candidates.
4. Proactively source talent from marginalized or underrepresented communities. You can support these groups by attending career fairs at historically black colleges and universities, professional groups like Women in Tech, and forging strategic partnerships with associations like the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
5. Remove or reduce unconscious bias by doubling down on interview training and enlisting a diverse group of employees to participate in the decision-making committee. Leverage your employee resource groups (ERGs) to support the interview process or assist with training. For external help partner with firms specialized in training managers on unconscious bias like Perception Institute and the Anti-Defamation League.
6. Source at scale by creating diversity focused events and webinars with networking content. Candidates can learn about your company, what you stand for (values) and network with like-minded professionals.
7. Use data to help make smart decisions by measuring and revisiting goals and KPIs. Collecting data on candidates, optimize in real-time, and sharing the success with executives.
While these ideas will help businesses make inroads into diverse communities, determining what partnerships yield the best results requires understanding your specific diversity gaps and recruitment needs. Partner with staffing agencies that specialize in recruiting various professionals if you lack underrepresented groups in your talent pipeline. You can also leverage diverse job boards like diversity.com or PDN Recruit.
Diverse hiring done right takes time; there is no “quick fix.” A comprehensive strategy includes evaluating your organization’s recruitment process, implementing behavioral interview questions, and training hiring managers to showcase just how much you truly value diversity. My final piece of advice is to leverage your diverse employees and develop authentic connections with underrepresented communities. Diverse employees attract diverse candidates. Creating an inclusive work environment starts by valuing your diverse employee’s presence, experiences, and contributions to increases overall team morale and culture.