Delivering a Successful Diversity Recruiting Program

Roopesh Nair
May 10 ․ 13 min read

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Diversity has been a hot topic in the corporate world for years now. It seems every other organization has been scrambling to prove their commitment to diversifying their workplace cultures—issuing new policies, PR announcements, and mission statements at a breakneck pace.

That’s all well and good, but companies that are truly serious about diversity know they need to start at the source: diversity recruiting. Why all this hullabaloo about diversity in recruiting? And—just as importantly—how do you ensure your own diversity recruiting efforts deliver? Let’s explore:

Why Is Diversity Recruiting Important?

When we say “diversity recruiting,” we’re talking about a concerted effort to recruit from underrepresented minority groups at a company. Commonly, that means women, ethnic and racial minorities, and persons with disabilities. But diversity recruiting will differ depending on your organization’s current makeup.

Diversity hiring is important to your business for one big reason: It helps your bottom line. Contrary to the popular notion that hiring “for fit” leads to more cohesive, high-performance workplace cultures, a diverse workforce has been linked to everything from more innovative workplace cultures to higher profits. For example, a study by Catalyst found that financial performance is higher for companies with more women in senior positions. In fact, the group of companies with the highest proportion of women in senior positions had a 35 percent higher return on equity.  

One reason workplace diversity may be linked to better performance is because, with an abundance of diverse voices in the boardroom, you avoid the dreaded groupthink effect. People who come from diverse backgrounds often have different viewpoints on business decisions—and that can certainly help your bottom line. Writing at The Guardian, Fiona Smith gives an example from the financial industry: “If employers take a cookie cutter approach to hiring, deliberately bringing in people who are similar, they can risk the kind of groupthink that contributed to the global financial crisis and financial industry scandals. ... Some commercial decisions, clearly bad ideas in hindsight, may have been avoided had there been enough people to argue a different point of view.”

5 Steps to a Successful Diversity Recruiting Program

Diversity recruiting can create a more welcoming workplace culture, fuel innovation, and fatten the bottom line. Sounds good, right? If you’ve answered that with a resounding “yes!” then here are five steps you can take to get your own diversity recruiting program off the ground:

1. Develop a Business Case:

To get executive buy-in for your diversity recruiting program, focus on how the program will align with business goals. As we’ve outlined above, there’s quite a bit of research focused on how hiring for diversity—both diversity of thought and demographic diversity (which often go hand in hand)—improves workplace performance.

2. Pick the Right Tools:

Once you get the okay from leadership, it’s time to figure out how exactly you’ll hire for diversity. The trick? Seek out a recruiting software solution that allows you to get granular with who you recruit and understand what engagement methods work best for your candidates. With the help of analytics and artificial intelligence, today’s sophisticated software can make sure you’re getting in front of the right candidates. This will help you spend your diversity recruiting budget wisely by allowing you to channel spending to the social media platforms your best candidates frequent. Remember: For diversity recruiting to be effective, you can’t treat all diverse candidates the same. You must tailor your talent acquisition approach to each diverse segment—which is why using software fueled by analytics and attuned to candidate behavior is so important, since it can provide a tailored marketing experience to candidates.

Hiring organizations are continuing to ‘peel the onion’ of AI and are beginning to understand its critical role in recruitment. This intel is helping companies stay informed about what content engages candidates, the communication that is most effective, and the likelihood of someone applying for a position. While there is known fear around AI in the talent arena, ie: Will AI replace recruiters? It’s critical to understand that AI is the new ally to recruitment—empowering recruiters and candidates to make better decisions around the right fit for their organization—while optimizing cost and results.

3. Invest in Your Data:

Picking the right tools to execute your diversity recruiting initiative also means investing in software that revolves around data—you must be able to target the right audience and deliver brand relevance. To do that, you must leverage programmatic media technology that takes the inefficiencies and guesswork out of your recruitment advertising and spends your dollars on the channels that perform best for your brand. When it comes to diversity recruitment, calibrating media spend to sites that provide you with the top candidates will lend to smarter hiring. To turbo-charge your diversity recruitment efforts, seek out data-fueled software that allows you to make real-time changes to your recruitment efforts based on the data being reported. If you’re running a diversity recruitment effort for the first time, you need to be nimble—which means data-driven software that lets you make changes on the fly will be a godsend. Investing in your data will also help you show leadership the impact of your diversity recruiting efforts.

4. Fuel Referrals:

Your current employees can and should play a huge role in your diversity recruiting efforts. How? With a formal referral program that rewards employees financially when they refer diverse recruits (ah, money—the universal language!). Offering a referral bonus for diverse hires has another benefit, too: It shows your employees that you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is when it comes to diversity.

As John Sullivan and Kimberly Do explain in ERE Media, “The diversity referral bonus has such a significant impact because it sends an unambiguous message about the importance of diversity recruiting. Corporations are constantly sending out messages to [their]employees about the value of diversity. Unfortunately, many employees and managers don’t take those messages seriously because they often view them as ‘just talk.’ However, when you put your money where your mouth is by doubling the referral bonus, most will finally realize that corporate leadership is finally serious about diversity recruiting. So it’s not just the money, but it’s the public doubling of the amount that instantly lets your employees and managers unambiguously know how important diversity referrals have become.”

5. Activate employees into advocates:

There’s another huge way you can leverage your current employees when it comes to diversity recruiting: employee advocacy. Employee advocacy expands your recruiting reach by turning your employees into your best recruiters who share brand messaging with their own social followings. Make sure you get your employees from diverse backgrounds involved with your employee advocacy program. Our social networks, both online and offline, tend to reflect our own demographic backgrounds. That means that your diverse employees can disseminate your employer brand message even further, by getting your messaging in front of a wider range of diverse candidates.

Next Steps

Diversity recruiting comes with a big payoff—but it takes a pretty big investment to get started, too. How do you execute on all of the above … without losing your mind? Look to omnichannel recruiting solutions that will help you tie all of the threads of diversity recruiting together. In omnichannel recruiting, your different recruitment marketing channels are fully integrated and “talk” to one another, delivering a holistic, personalized experience to the candidate.

In today’s expectation economy, candidates expect more out of their interactions with employers—and omnichannel helps you deliver. With omnichannel recruiting, you’re able to be where your best candidates are—which becomes even more important as you start recruiting for diversity. An omnichannel approach can help you determine which marketing channels attract your best diverse candidates and then personalize the rest of their recruitment journey based on their interests and backgrounds. Instead of perceiving a ho-hum effort to recruit for diversity, diverse candidates will feel like you really want them—and they’ll want to work for you in return.  

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