You recognize the many advantages of having a more diverse workforce at your company or on your team. It’s a noble goal that many employers share. The real challenge is in figuring out how to achieve that goal.
Here are four good starting points to get your efforts off the ground. But let’s start by answering a very basic question.
What Does It Mean to Have a More Inclusive Work Team?
Inclusiveness can be defined differently for every organization. It’s a matter of creating a blend of workforce personalities and demographics to better reflect the outside world. Inclusive hiring is a way of expanding the look and the outlook of your team in numerous ways. That includes broadening it in terms of age, sex and sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, ability, and other factors that mirror life around us.
One key reason for this push is that it’s simply the right thing to do. It provides more opportunities for all workers. And it strengthens organizations by expanding viewpoints and perspectives. Your efforts can enrich the company culture, boost morale and broaden the customer base. In short, there’s no reason not to make greater inclusivity a company goal.
Here are four (4) ways to accomplish inclusivity.
1. Set a SMART Goal
Stating inclusiveness as a goal is a good start, but it means nothing without concrete plans to make it a reality. Employ strategies you use to achieve goals to increase productivity, improve training, or pump up sales. You focus on specifics when you want to hit those targets. You either use SMART goals or the thinking behind them. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a SMART goal is one that is:
Let’s start with specific. No organization lacks a diverse workforce in exactly the same way as others. For instance, if yours is a female-owned business in a traditionally female-dominated market category, you’ve probably already done a good job of hiring women. And if you’re located in a region of the country with a large Hispanic or Asian-American population, you might have a team that’s strong in hiring from those groups.
But are there other areas involved in measuring inclusivity that aren’t as well represented in your workforce?
Do the same deep thinking when it comes to measuring results, figuring out how to achieve a positive outcome, making your goals realistic, and setting deadlines for achieving the results you’re after.
2. Solicit Referrals from a More Diverse Employee Base
Hiring referrals from team members is an incredibly valuable policy, as long as you trust the input of your employees.
The downside for inclusivity is that most people gravitate toward similar people. Your team’s friends, family, and former co-workers who they’d refer for hiring are probably similarly educated and come from similar backgrounds.
So, you’re likely to hire more of the same unless you include a more diverse group of referrers. That’s not easy at first if you don’t have a very diverse workforce right now. But as your efforts start to pick up and your company gradually gets more diverse, be sure to go out of your way to solicit the referral advice of your new group of workers when looking to recruit. This is a very organic way of adding diverse talent over time.
3. Consider a Wider Range of Backgrounds
The best leadership candidates for your organization come from Ivy League schools. Or they have a military background. Or have only worked in your industry.
It’s comforting to look for people like us. Those whose resumes resemble your own, or the other successful people at your company. But it’s another way of recruiting more of the same.
Take a chance. If you interview someone who didn’t go to a “good” college, but you still feel they possess traits that can make them valuable to your organization, make the offer. Same if their lifestyles vary quite a bit from your team or they have a track record in industries other than your own.
The idea of inclusivity is to start the hiring process without preconceived notions of the background the job candidate should have. Start with an open mind. You might be pleasantly surprised at where you end up.
4. Watch Your Language
This mostly refers to the way you communicate on job postings. But it can also reflect how you verbally interact while conducting job interviews. Some words, phrases, and even photos or ideas can convey an unintended sense of exclusion.
It’s not like times past when an employer might write an ad in search of a “sharp young man” for their sales department. But if you write that you’re looking for a salesperson who’s a “fighter” or a “warrior,” that could sound exclusionary to women even if you already employ many who reflect those aggressive values to the same degree as your male team members.
If you post jobs in your IT department for a “white hat hacker,” that reads like it’s a job reserved for young men. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a “maestro” in customer service, the slightly stodgy slang might sound like your company is looking for more “mature” candidates.
Even the images on your Careers website can deliver the unintended wrong message. Let’s say you want to show your company culture in the way you have off-hours fun together. You do it with photos of your hard-muscled young men kayaking across a whitewater river or climbing ropes as part of a team-building exercise. But what’s the message unintentionally delivered to women, older workers, and the athletically-challenged or differently-abled job candidates? It doesn’t look real inviting.
It can be trickier to write a job post that doesn’t inadvertently exclude, but it will be well worth the effort.
Let’s Exchange Ideas about Inclusive Hiring
At Confie, we’ve made it a commitment to recruit a more diverse workforce of our own. And we’ve had success in this ongoing initiative. Let’s exchange winning strategies. Just reach out and drop us a line or call us at 714-252-2500.