Five Tips for Building a Diverse Workforce

It is generally believed that diverse teams make better decisions, because they are more likely to bring in multiple perspectives – and therefore, better represent customers and clients.  In addition, when organizations work to improve diversity, it can also lead to broader applicant pools for new jobs – increasing the possibility that the right person will be found for the right job at the right time.

So, what are some practical steps workplaces can take to increase workforce diversity?

  1. Relook at common candidate sources. Do you generally post job announcements in the same places, or reach out to the same schools or alumni networks? Consider other venues for posting jobs, or for placing articles about your organization that could generate interest for future announcements.  This could include minority-focused professional organizations, Veteran groups, career transition groups or different types of schools.
  2. Diversify interviewer pools and train them on implicit bias. There have been some fascinating studies about how interviewers subconsciously evaluate candidates. Training interviewers about implicit bias can help and using a diverse interview team can help broaden perspectives on who would be a “good hire” for the organization.
  3. Consider job flexibility options. Reconsidering basic job parameters may open the door to more applicants. Could a job that was originally intended for the office be completed remotely? Could a full-time position be transitioned to two part-time roles or a job-sharing situation? Being creative with a job may yield more applicants for that job.
  4. Review compensation and awards programs. There’s no sense in diversifying the organization if diverse candidates are not treated fairly once they walk in the door. Critically review how awards have been distributed in the organization – can you detect any sources of unacknowledged bias that could be corrected?
  5. Use exit interviews strategically. One of the best ways to learn about an organization’s blind spots is to try to get honest feedback from people who choose to leave. While there is always a risk that employees will opt out of this process or will give positive answers to not “burn bridges,” when conducted by a third-party, these interviews can provide valuable insights about needed changes.

We work with an organization that regularly has a gay, male, Jewish, Republican lawyer sit on an interview team with a white, disabled, married, Episcopalian female. They are not only the best of friends – they also have made some of the best hiring choices for the organization.  Diversity delivers.