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Helpful diversity recruiting strategies you need to know.


Helpful diversity recruiting strategies you need to know. Helpful diversity recruiting strategies you need to know.

Today, the advantages of a diverse workforce are clearer than ever. Many companies have come to realize that diversifying their workforce is not just the right thing but also the smart thing. This introductory guide to diversity recruiting strategies is for anyone who wants to improve the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) of their workplace. We hope you find the strategies, tools, and tactics in this guide useful in helping you reach your DEI goals.

1. What is diversity recruiting?  

Diversity recruiting focuses on being inclusive of all competitively qualified candidates, with special care taken to attract and expand job access to underrepresented groups. There are multiple dimensions of diversity, including race, gender identity, ability / disability, veteran status, age, neurodiversity, and more. 

It's important to note a few things about the word “diverse.” It is not a euphemism for “women” or “people of color”—diversity encapsulates so much more than that. And because the word “diverse” describes a group, individual people should not be labeled as “diverse.”

Diversity recruiting is not about filling quotas. Hiring solely based on protected characteristics is illegal and can lead to many negative consequences. Instead, hire candidates based on their unique perspectives, lived experience, and skill sets (i.e., their LEQ). This will help expand the pool of qualified talent for your open roles.

Beyond being the right thing to do, why is diversity recruiting important? What's the value of incorporating diversity recruitment strategies into your hiring process? Diversity recruiting enhances your company culture, and more diverse companies are more innovative and, ultimately, more profitable.

Benefits of a diverse workplace include: 

  • Increased productivity.
  • Improved creativity and innovation. 
  • Greater appeal for qualified talent. 
  • Higher employee engagement and reduced turnover.
  • Enriched customer experiences driven by cultural awareness.

Studies show that a more diverse workforce makes for a stronger team. Here are a few studies that point to evidence that a more diverse workforce is a powerful tool: 

2. What is my role in diversity recruiting?

Diversity recruiting can feel intimidating at first. Are you a team leader responsible for hiring and retaining talent? An HR or talent acquisition leader who needs to use specific diversity recruiting strategies to improve how you hire? An individual contributor helping your organization reach its diversity goals? Each role has an important part to play.

Team leaders

Team leaders may find it daunting to be responsible for not only hiring and retaining talent, but also supporting DEI in the hiring process.

To recruit diverse pools of talent, you must recognize and address potential barriers. One significant barrier is unconscious bias. Diversity Resources defines unconscious bias as “social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside of their own conscious awareness.”

You may be ready to create a more inclusive hiring process, but your company or coworkers may not be due to unconscious bias, lack of resources, or company culture. Research points to the fact that the hiring process is oftentimes biased and unfair.

Increasing diversity is everyone's responsibility, but hiring managers play the most central role and must be aware of their own biases

HR and Talent Acquisition leaders

HR and Talent Acquisition leaders play a key role in diversity recruiting. These leaders need to create pipelines of talent from underrepresented groups, source talent for specific roles for hiring managers to consider, and establish hiring best practices.

As a people leader, it's also important to understand how employees feel about the workplace. Some of the approaches to help assess this include:

You can use this data to better understand how your employees feel and assess room for improvement in your diversity recruiting strategies.

Individual contributors

Increasing diversity is often thought of as a manager's responsibility, but it is actually everyone's responsibility. Whether that's pointing out a biased statement or making sure you allow others an opportunity to speak, each individual can take steps to make their work environment more inclusive and welcoming.

Another way individual contributors can help? You can refer candidates from underrepresented groups for open positions at your company. According to Apollo Technical, referrals account for 30 to 50 percent of all new employees in the U.S. Think about people you know in your network from underrepresented groups and refer them for relevant roles and opportunities. The more diverse your referral stream, the more diverse your workplace can become.

3. Diversity recruiting strategies to attract the right talent

There are many diversity recruiting strategies to attract candidates from underrepresented groups. Here are some examples:

  • Add inclusive images to your main website, career page, and media pages.
  • Show the diversity of your team and reflect your desired state. Job seekers need to see how your company promotes diversity and inclusion.
  • Reach out to untapped populations, for example, through Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), women in STEM professional organizations, or organizations focused on placing veterans in the private sector—and let them know you are looking for them. Encourage conversations on social media, in keynote speeches, in company newsletters, etc., and always ask for referrals.
  • Make sure that leaders talk about their plans to increase diversity. It is okay for leaders to talk about how some groups are underrepresented in their workplace and what steps the company is taking to make it more diverse. People pay attention to what leaders say. 
  • Create an Ambassador Program and work with employee resource groups (ERGs) to bring in people from different backgrounds. ERGs are a great resource, but keep in mind that organizing an ERG takes time and energy. This extra time is in addition to the time employees spend managing their day-to-day tasks.

More diversity recruiting strategies:

  • Write inclusive job ads.
  • Expand your sourcing channels.
  • Crowdsource for new talent with employee referrals.
  • Create partnerships with historically underrepresented groups.
  • Embrace digital accessibility.

4. Diversity recruiting tools

There are many different kinds of diversity recruiting tools that can help you find, connect with, and hire talent from underrepresented groups. They range from DIY resources you can incorporate into your existing hiring tools and strategies to full-service offerings that support you through the end-to-end hiring process.

Some examples include:

  • Aquent's Diversity Toolkit.
  • Aquent's Diversity+ Recruiting Solution.
  • College and University Partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs).
  • Diversity Hiring Events.
  • Diversity Recruiting Software.
  • Employee Resource Groups. 
  • Equity Audits. 
  • Social Media Networking Groups.
  • Specialized Job Boards.
  • Working with a Certified Diversity and Inclusion Recruiter. 

It's important to keep in mind that there is no magic bullet diversity recruiting tool. You might consider adding a few different tools to your arsenal that make sense for your process and goals.

5. How to mitigate unconscious bias in your hiring process

Unconscious bias in the hiring process can appear in many forms. Job descriptions can discourage underrepresented populations from applying. Interview processes can prevent candidates from reaching the final hiring stage. Both can unintentionally work to perpetuate bias and limit workplace diversity. One way to mitigate unconscious bias and these pitfalls is by implementing the use of an equity audit

Here are three things you can do to ensure a fair hiring process:

  • Be aware of potential biases within your organization. 
  • Standardize candidate assessments with structured interviews.
  • Start using panel interviews instead of one-on-one interviews.

6. How to retain a diverse workforce

if your organization wants to be diverse, part of your strategy must be to hire people from all backgrounds, and another part must be to keep your best employees from leaving.

Here are a few key questions when considering diversity and inclusion onboarding best practices: 

  • Do your employees feel like they can bring their whole selves to work? 
  • Do they feel like they have to assimilate to fit in?
  • Do they feel included on the team and among their peers?
  • Do they see people like themselves in leadership roles?
  • Does everyone get fair access to internal opportunities (promotions, projects, etc.)?
  • Does everyone receive mentoring and / or sponsorship?
  • Is everyone invited into exclusive networks?
  • Are all voices heard? 

After you've answered these questions, the following steps can help address retention issues within your workforce:

Make internal hiring processes fair
Access to internal work opportunities can sometimes be hard to find. Because of this, employees may have no clear path to advance their careers. Post all jobs, include clear hiring instructions, and consider all qualified applicants. 

Provide the resources employees need
Ensure that employees have access to the people, places, and things they need to perform their duties.

Offer a seat at the table
Important voices are often left out of meetings, especially when they're held behind closed doors. Rather than sending calendar invites based on a person's role, think about gathering a wide range of perspectives instead so that your workforce is fairly represented.

Create a culture where people feel safe
Encourage employees to talk about their jobs without fear of judgment. This creates a culture of belonging and inclusion. In effect, your employees can be themselves at work.

Consider current hiring practices before making changes 
Companies are making strides in hiring more diverse groups into entry-level positions, but in many organizations, upper-level management and the C-suite are still disproportionately white and male. Create a supportive, safe internal operation for the folks already there. To make your company's strategic decision-making process more inclusive, you should promote from within when possible and make sure that decisions about promotions are not biased against underrepresented groups.

7. Conclusion

When it comes to building a diverse workforce, it's never too soon or too late to get started. In this guide, we've shared key insights that have helped improve diversity at our client companies and likewise here at Aquent. We hope it helps your team do the same. Connect with our diversity recruiting experts to learn more.

Image of Carole Smith
Carole Smith

Carole Smith is a tech-savvy business leader, and certified project manager (PMP), with B2B and B2C experience in marketing, sales, and finance at large global brands and national nonprofits. As Director of Marketing at Aquent, she has responsibility for corporate branding and marketing initiatives including demand generation, account-based marketing, and social media.


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Image of Den ​​Mondejar
Den ​​Mondejar

Den ​​Mondejar is a marketing professional and change leader passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I).  For over 15 years, he has worked on developing​ ​teams, improving experiences, and increasing employer brand value.  At Aquent, he leads our Diversity+ recruiting solution, helping small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and Fortune 100 companies achieve their workforce diversity goals in a meaningful way.  Den also sits on Aquent's Diversity Council, is the BIPOC Employee Resource Group Co-Chair, and has completed Cornell University's Diversity and Inclusion certification program.  


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