A wide range of studies has shown that companies with diverse teams—including diverse executive teams—consistently outperform their less-diverse competitors.
Specifically, research has shown that firms in the top quarter of their statistical group in terms of racial, ethnic, culture, age, and gender diversity are the most likely to demonstrate bottom-line growth higher than the average in their industries. Meanwhile, those in the lowest quarter in terms of employee diversity are less likely to display better-than-average financial results.
This correlation shows the greater success, in practical terms, of companies when they align themselves with the value of a truly diverse workforce. Their idea and innovation streams benefit from a broad cross-section of people with different life experiences, perspectives, and insights. Moreover, they are also more likely to continue to attract top-quality emerging talent and earn the loyalty of customers who have come to regard diversity as a deciding factor in their spending decisions.
The conclusion of multiple research projects, including a major 2016 study from the Peterson Institute for International Economics and Ernst & Young, is that every facet of corporate life, from employee satisfaction to the quality of executive decision-making, gains from the development of a diverse workforce.
So how do companies go about making recruiting and hiring for diversity a central part of their human resources development plans? Here are a few guidelines for doing that well:
Establish the goal
Set diversity goals that focus on increasing the quantity of diverse new hires within a continuing framework of recruiting and hiring for excellence. People who know today’s economic landscape point out that there is no shortage of highly qualified candidates across genders and ethnic backgrounds. The challenge is to find them, so fine-tuning a company’s initial HR practices is essential.
Broaden the job description
Create job descriptions that are inclusive, not exclusive. For example, when wording a job description, include both terms that are conventionally viewed as “masculine” (e.g., “competitive” or “driven”) with those conventionally seen as “feminine” (“collaborative” or “empathetic”). Such a balance is more likely to attract larger numbers of qualified candidates of both genders.
Another technique for lessening perceived gender bias in job announcements is to avoid superlative adjectives such as “superior” or “top performer.” Studies indicate that female candidates are less likely to publicly tout their own accomplishments and less likely to think of themselves as competitors.
Communicate the priority
Bring the entire recruiting team together to agree on common definitions, goals, and practices. Communicate the importance of the company’s diversity goals to the recruiters, insisting that they place them front-and-center at every stage of the hiring process, from screening resumes to interviews. This will help to ensure that everyone on the hiring team will take ownership of the goal and consciously work to fulfill it.
Address the bias
While the term unconscious bias may have become somewhat of a cliché, experts like those on a recent Forbes Human Resources Council panel point out that is only too real—and it has practical consequences for today’s corporations.
A lack of recruiter imagination and awareness about the capabilities of diverse job candidates leads to a lower-quality candidate pool, and therefore a perpetuation and reinforcement of unconscious bias throughout the organization. To stop this from happening, companies should address this problem consciously and specifically from the top.
As the Forbes experts pointed out, unconscious bias can begin with a candidate’s name on a resume. Are recruiters giving equal consideration to resumes headed with Latinx, Asian, Arabic, or traditionally African-American sounding names as to those that sound “white”?
Collaborate beyond boundaries
Broadening a firm’s networking universe will go a long way toward achieving a diverse workforce and a diverse C-suite.
Make it a point to partner and collaborate with external organizations that are themselves diverse and promote the value of diversity. For example, bringing in contract trainers and program leaders who exemplify the benefits of a diverse workforce tends to translate into greater acceptance of diversity throughout a company.
One highly successful way to increase a company’s network of diverse contacts is to utilize existing employees’ connections to diverse organizations. Consider starting resource groups of employees who can serve as hiring panelists or advisors or who can serve as entrees to conversations with outside organizations focused on diversity.
Create a diverse recruiting team
The team charged with recruiting and hiring should itself be composed of people from a variety of backgrounds. Such a team is best suited for identifying excellence in a diverse pool of potential new hires. This will also go a long way toward demonstrating to diverse candidates that they will find understanding and acceptance within that company’s culture.
Support new hires
Finally, as part of the onboarding and ongoing employee development process, make sure to champion a corporate culture that provides a support system for new hires from diverse backgrounds. Once these new employees have become part of the organization, it’s important to help them continue to grow, and to tap into their talents and insights to help the company become a truly multicultural and diverse workplace.