Dramatically Increasing Diverse Applicant Flow and Hiring Results

Let me begin with how companies benefit from having a diverse employee base. In a superb white paper* prepared by leaders at Cisco, they credibility assert (supported by metrics) that:

  • Diverse teams exhibited a higher level of creativity and a broader thought process in solving complex problems
  • Diverse perspectives lead to innovation
  • Diverse work teams properly managed and trained produced results that are six times higher than homogenous teams
  • Companies that embrace diversity and are competent at inclusion enhance customer loyalty
  • And greater diversity leads to financial growth

So with the workplace, customer markets, and our country becoming more diverse every day, firms should firmly and immediately embrace the talent inherent in a diverse workforce.

In this article I will offer some ideas for recruiting more diverse talent--some are immediate and tactical while others are strategic and long range. However, I’d like to offer a word of caution at the start: before you start creating a full blown diversity recruiting strategy, you need to assess how "Diversity Friendly" your firm actually is. Ask yourself the following:

  • Is your firm a "Diversity Champion?"
  • Has your firm created a work experience for employees revolving around diversity and its concepts?
  • Does your firm have a set of messages and actions which convey a set of behavior patterns to employees and applicants on diversity?
  • Are your diverse employees enthusiastic about recommending your firm as a "great place to work" for all?
  • Are you sending a consistent picture of your firm as a diversity-driven place to work?
  • Is your employer brand communicating everything you want it to around diversity?

Also, is Diversity mentioned in your firm’s "EVP"? If not, you should mention how your firm values diversity and people of difference in your EVP. You see, I contend that you should also incorporate siversity into youremployment brand strategy, please see my previous article entitled "Diversity as a driver of your Employment Brand"©.

I firmly contend that if you are not managing a part of your employment brand through diversity, then you will be at a disadvantage in the war for talent! When expertly managed, your "Diversity Employment Brand" (a phrase I have coined) will give you the tools to communicate with diverse employees and diverse applicants at every turn.

Let’s now also take a minute to define what we mean by "Diversity". In my diversity training and facilitator work at Monsanto**, diversity was defined along various dimensions.

  • Primary Dimension: Age, Race, Gender, Ethnicity, Physical Ability & Sexual Orientation
  • Secondary: Geographic Location, Income, Personal Habits, Recreational Habits, Religion, Educational Background, Work Experience, Appearance, Parental Status, Marital Status
  • Organizational Dimensions: Management Status, Functional Level/Classification, Work Content Field, Divisional/Dept Unit/Group, Seniority, Work Location, Union Affiliation, Management Status

A good place to start your diverse recruiting efforts could be with training; have your Recruiters trained by "AIRS" to become Certified Diversity Recruiters. I organized such an event for our Global Staffing Team at Monsanto in St. Louis (and our diversity numbers soared when coupled with some of the strategies explained herein). This training is critical to establishing diversity recruitment as a full team approach and effort. This training leverages and maximizes the diversity effect across all Recruiters and aids in building a recruitment culture permeated with a diversity approach. In addition, these learned skills ensure that diversity is not an "add-on" but rather an important and integral part of your overall recruiting strategy. I organized a training event for our entire Global Staffing Team at Monsanto in St. Louis (and our diversity numbers soared when coupled with some of the strategies I explain here) - People of Color (POC) Hires reached 36% of US professional hires and Diverse Applicant increased by 79%. Some of the things Recruiters will learn include: Steps to source diverse candidate, or "How to Build a Case for Diversity with your Hiring Managers", etc.

Below, I have created a detailed list of specific action items which you could immediately put in place to ramp up your campaign, namely:

  • Seek volunteers from line areas to serve as "Diversity Recruiting Champions" or "Diversity Brand Ambassadors"
  • Create a Web page with the unique title of "Minorities in Your Industry", with a unique URL. For example, if the industry were Aerospace, you could create a web page titled "Minorities in Aerospace". When this phrase is typed in to Google for a search (by a minority job seeker), up pops a page with this title and information about career opportunities at your firm. It would then have an embedded link back to your main career page.
  • Create partnerships with Community Organizations, Trade Associations and diversity-related Groups
  • Run specific commercial spots on minority radio stations with high ethnic demographics (African-American, Hispanic and Asian). I did this on a local St. Louis FM Jazz Radio station with a high African-American demographic and a local Southern Illinois AM Radio station with a high Hispanic demographic –both Radio campaigns led to some diverse hires at a surprisingly cost-effective rate.
  • Post testimonials on the career website from Minority & Women Employees, Interns, etc., from all levels
  • Use new employee orientation as a recruiting mechanism:

Ask all new hires (minority and non-minority) for referrals of top performers at their former companies.

  • Conduct an open house and target specific minority organizations for attendees
  • Build a robust University Relations Program with a significant number of HBCUs and HSIs as core schools
  • Build a talent database for Diverse candidates:

Recruiters could create a database of Diverse candidates at every opportunity (for example, Diverse candidates who Recruiters: meet at conferences; meet at networking events, or read about in the Industry press; or hear about via word-of-mouth, etc.)

  • Create a Professional Recruiting Event:

(e.g., a 1/2 day Conference --panel presentations, breakout sessions, seminars, etc. --activity on a Saturday morning for Minority Professionals interested in your Industry). Invite Senior Executives to "kick-off" the Event. Have Recruiters present to conduct on-the-spot interviews.

  • More use of Diverse images on your Facebook & Career Pages
  • Leverage the In-house Employee Affinity/Network Groups for Minority/Women Professional and College recruiting purposes:

Conduct a Summit with the Leaders of these Employee Groups

  • Develop (shared) recruitment goals/targets for Minority Hires
  • Conduct a Training session for members of the Network on "How to sell to Minority/Women candidates" on your firm.
  • If there are no Employee internal networks, create a Minority/Women "Recruiting Council" of volunteers. This Council could be composed of Minority/Women employees who have at least 5 years service.

The Council would recommend recruiting tactics for targeting diverse groups of people as well as act as a "clearing house for resume dissemination" and "the selling of your Company", once an offer was made. This resume dissemination & "selling" would have to be completely coordinated with the Staffing organization.

  • Conduct feedback sessions/focus group with Minority and Women Employees in order to learn more about: "How to Attract more Minority and Women Employees". Focus groups to be held periodically to generate new ideas for contests and promotions and to gather feedback on our current process.
  • Develop a special referral program for Minority/Women candidates who are hired (this would be an increased amount more than the normal employee referral award).
  • Consider "revising" how your job offer is "sold" to Diverse candidates

Namely, research from the Recruiting Roundtable suggests that minorities placed more importance on the company’s brand, work-life balance, and commitment to diversity when mulling over a job offer. These highlighted items must be stressed by all Recruiters to successfully close the Minority candidate

  • Build an Alumni page on your website

And track high performers (in general) who have left and for tracking high performing Minority/Women alumni as well

  • Reach out to these individuals and try to recruit them back
  • Making the Great Place to Work Institute®/Fortune Magazine 100 Best Companies to Work for Award®.
  • Making the "Diversity Inc‘s Top 50 Companies for Diversity"
  • Placement of the Award logo (if won) on the main Career website page
  • Making Black Enterprise’s list of: "40 Best Companies for Diversity"
  • Making Diversity Inc’s Top Ten Companies for Asian Americans to Work for list
  • Making the Professional Woman's magazine Award as one of the "Top Diversity Employers for Women"
  • Making some of the Top Employer Awards for Female and Minority College Students, for example: the Black Collegian Magazine’s Top 100 Employers for College Students

Lastly, when a firm begins a diversity recruiting effort, it will need some metrics. These metrics should be used to evaluate how well the organization is doing on their diversity and inclusion program. These proposed metrics are for the US only. Keep in mind, rolling out a Global metrics program is challenging-- given regional variations in the demographics of the populace in other countries. For example, metrics typically around race and ethnicity tend to be much used in the US. Here are some metrics supplied by Marc Brenman, Diversity Metrics, Measurement, and Evaluation, Workforce Diversity Network:

  • Percentage of minorities, EEO targets
  • Increase in minority representation overall
  • Increased representation of minorities at different levels of firm
  • Employee satisfaction surveys
  • Better relationships among diverse staff members
  • Fewer discrimination grievances and complaints
  • Fewer findings of discrimination by adjudicators and government agencies
  • More career development over time for underrepresented group members
  • Better retention of underrepresented staff
  • Decrease in pay disparities
  • More positive responses on exit interviews from diverse employees
  • Higher ranking of the organization in terms of best places to work
  • Awards from Diversity special interest and advocacy groups
  • Inclusion of diversity in corporate social responsibility efforts
  • Independence and professionalism of the diversity officer
  • Savings in recruitment costs from achieving higher retention rates for 'minority' employees through building a more inclusive culture
  • Reductions in absenteeism for underrepresented affinity groups when effort is put into fostering an inclusive culture for everyone
  • Engagement ratings for employees from different affinity groups in annual engagement surveys
  • Fulfillment of an affirmative action plan, if any

Qualitative measures

  • Employee climate surveys with questions about perceptions of diversity

In closing, leading edge companies can have a competitive advantage in the marketplace by recruiting a diverse staff and creating a strong diversity brand and a diversity-focused EVP that welcomes all. In order to significantly impact your firm’s diversity recruiting results, all of the strategies and action items I have recommended need to be fully undertaken—they are cost effective, impactful and fun to implement!


*Source: White paper from Cisco "Measurement: Proving the ROI of Global Diversity and Inclusion Efforts" By Sandy Hoffman, Sr. Director, Operations, Processes, and Systems Inclusion & Diversity, Randall Lane, Manager, Global Inclusion & Diversity, and David Posner, Manager, Global Inclusion & Diversity of Cisco Systems, Inc., and Marilyn Nagel, CEO, Watermark

** Source: (#Source: Scendis & Monsanto: Diversity and High Performance Relationships Workshops Module 8: Diversity Layers)