What Is a Diversity Recruitment Strategy?

A diversity recruitment strategy defines goals, accountabilities, action items and success measures for attracting, engaging, assessing and hiring diverse talent to drive business success. It is often part of a larger diversity and inclusion strategy, developed to ensure a workforce reflects a company’s customer base and the communities where it operates, and to capitalize on the benefits that can come from a diverse range of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives.

Like business, diversity recruitment strategies are constantly evolving, as leading-edge companies draw correlations between workforce diversity and job satisfaction, culture, community impact, innovation and business results.




87% of participants in the Diversity in the Workplace Job Seeker Survey indicate leaders believe diversity recruiting is important and 81% have a diversity recruiting strategy.




Why Is a Diversity Recruitment Strategy Important?

There are more job openings than people looking for work, companies are facing the tightest labor market in almost 50 years, and workforce demographics are changing fast. Employers are stepping up their game to compete and win valued talent, but it’s a candidate’s market — and their demands are high when it comes to workplace diversity.




“Workplace diversity matters now like never before. With a multigenerational workforce in full swing, candidates proactively seek out companies that allow them to bring their authentic self to the table and celebrate differences. Companies who are intentional about welcoming diversity into the organization understand that it’s a commitment to consistently shifting company behaviors, processes, and policies. The modern-day job seeker can quickly recognize if a company’s D&I efforts are disingenuous.”

Jyl Feliciano, Head of Inclusive and Campus Recruitment Programs, Conagra Brands



Our recent Diversity Recruiting Job Seeker Survey confirms that an employer’s demonstrated workforce diversity and public commitment to diversity initiatives are factors when deciding to accept a new role. On the flip side, our Diversity Recruiting Employer Benchmark Report shows that driving workplace diversity can be a challenge that requires deliberate, measurable actions. A diversity recruitment strategy can help.




83% of participants in the Diversity in the Workplace Job Seeker Survey indicate that an employer’s commitment to diversity is a factor in deciding whether to accept a job.




How to Get Started on Creating or Updating Your Diversity Recruitment Strategy

Diversity recruiting doesn’t happen in a vacuum, so neither should its strategy development. Before creating or updating your strategy, consider how factors outside your company and your recruiting team may impact diversity recruiting efforts:


1. What are your employees and candidates hearing in the news?

The national dialogue about things like the #MeToo movement and pay equity affect employees directly, and are compelling CEOs to drive progress within and beyond the walls of their own organizations.


2. What are other companies doing to drive diversity and inclusion?

Best practices and trends are constantly changing. See how your company’s diversity recruiting initiatives compare to what other employers are doing in this year’s Diversity Recruiting Employer Benchmark Report.


3. What is each demographic group looking for in an employer?

For example, what Gen Zers want in an employer may be different from women, people of color, veterans, and other demographic groups.


4. What are your company’s overall goals and plans?

How can your human resources and diversity recruiting strategies align with business initiatives, priorities and results?


5. What other company initiatives will impact diversity outcomes?

Initiatives related to the future of work, the skills gap, recruitment operations, technology, culture, branding, candidate experience, learning and development, career planning, employee resource groups, pay, benefits and more can have an effect on diversity recruiting and retention.

Once you have answers to these questions, share them with key decision makers like senior leaders, other initiative owners, hiring managers and recruiting staff. Having a common starting point may help when it comes time to obtain support for new diversity recruiting initiatives.


Define Your Diversity Recruitment Strategy Goals

As you’re getting started, record the top three to five things your company would like to accomplish with its diversity recruiting strategy. Put your goals in writing. For example, your goals might look something like this:


  • Increase diversity at every level of our organization to better reflect our customer base and the communities we serve.
  • Drive and measure the impact diversity and inclusion has on business results.
  • Recognize, maximize and reward behaviors that foster a diverse and inclusive culture.

As you’re setting company goals, here are a few things to consider:


  • Which areas of the business need the most attention when it comes to diversity? According to the Diversity Recruiting Employer Benchmark Survey, nearly 70% of employers have specific goals for diversity hiring (i.e., increasing female representation in tech roles by 15%). That’s good, because our employee survey showed diversity representation in management and leadership are the top ways a company can illustrate a commitment to diversity.
  • Are your hiring teams diverse enough? 63% of job seekers indicate that they would be reluctant to accept a job if they didn’t meet a diverse range of employees during the interview process.
  • Is your candidate pool diverse enough? Building a diverse workforce can mean different things for different teams. If you’re hiring for a marketing role, think about which perspectives, backgrounds and experiences are lacking from the marketing team specifically, and build a candidate pool that reflects those needs.
  • Can your company do a better job communicating its commitment to diversity? Based on Yello survey results, most job seekers believe companies that say they’re committed to diversity. In fact, most employees indicate that stating a commitment to diversity and inclusion in company communications is one of the top three things employers can do to drive recruiting diversity.
  • When was the last time you updated your employer brand? Have you evaluated whether it accurately reflects how diversity and inclusion play into your employee value proposition?

While you’re writing goals, make sure you have data on company and job seeker expectations when it comes to diversity. Why? Results show a gap between what’s important to employees and employers, and there’s a lot companies can do to better meet employee needs.


Pop Quiz!

Which demographic group feels most strongly about having diverse representation in leadership?


B. Gen Zers

C. Veterans

Identify Who Is Accountable for Diversity Recruitment Results

Once you’ve set diversity recruiting goals, define who will be responsible for delivering results. Leading-edge employers insist diversity is everyone’s responsibility, not just HR’s. Everyone from the CEO to hiring managers to project leads and individual contributors are accountable for driving progress.

Offer formal diversity training for hiring teams. This may include unconscious bias workshops, training on interview best practices, or other tactics that help employees expand their mindset and understand different perspectives.




A number of CEOs are leading by example, making public commitments to diversity-related goals and initiatives, and providing periodic progress reports (see CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion and Employers for Pay Equity).




Seek Leadership Buy-In for Diversity Recruiting Efforts

Most leaders believe that diversity is important and should be a priority. And most companies have plans in place to drive progress. So, getting leadership buy-in for new diversity recruiting strategies should be easy, right? Well…

According to the Diversity Recruiting Employer Benchmark Survey, leaders buy into the value of diversity recruiting in concept. In reality, there are some disconnects – like leaders not being willing to try new approaches or invest in new diversity recruiting initiatives. Getting their input, buy-in and support up front can help set the stage for changes and investments.


Create & Execute Your Diversity Recruiting Action Plan

You know your goals. You have leadership support. Now, it’s time to create and execute your plan. Opportunities exist at every step of your recruitment process checklist. Pay attention to policies, processes and programs throughout your hiring cycle, and map your diversity recruiting efforts to those that are most valued by job seekers.




Hiring phase

Action items to consider



  • When was the last time your company looked at how it defines diversity? Is it time to refresh your definition to address job seeker expectations? (For example, Gen Z candidates ranked personality higher than age, race or gender when it comes to desired workplace diversity.)
  • Does your organization clearly communicate its commitment to diversity in company communications and marketing materials? Do company leaders talk about diversity in public forums?
  • Does your employer brand reflect a commitment to diversity?
  • Would a marketing approach to diversity recruiting increase your talent pipeline?
  • Are you considering non-traditional candidates?



  • Are your recruitment communications as diverse as your candidates? Target different demographics with unique messaging. Use talent communities and share employee success stories.
  • Are you using the right communication channels to reach a diverse range of talent?
  • Are you taking advantage of opportunities to build brand awareness before attending diversity career fairs?



  • Are you using the same sources you’ve always used because “that’s the way we’ve always done it?”
  • Are you sourcing candidates where they’re most likely looking for jobs? (For example, veterans give greater weight to job boards and hiring events than women.)
  • Are you recruiting at colleges with diverse student bodies? Partnering with diversity organizations? Using specialized job boards? Maximizing employee referrals?



  • Are your job descriptions and postings written in a way that attracts the broadest pool of diverse candidates?
  • Should you consider changing job requirements to attract those with nontraditional backgrounds (for example, accepting candidates without a college degree)?
  • Should you consider taking new approaches to eliminate unconscious bias in screening, like using blind resumes or adopting technology to do initial screenings?
  • Is your talent pipeline diverse enough?



  • Is your hiring team diverse? Are they trained to properly interview a diverse range of candidates?
  • Are your interview questions standardized to eliminate bias?
  • Can interview scheduling technology help free up recruiting staff to focus on more strategic priorities, like building relationships?




Offer & Hire

  • Does your offer include employee benefits that are attractive to diverse candidates? (Do you know which demographic group claims maternity/paternity benefits are almost as important as pay equity? Which group ranks pay equity as most important by far? And which demographic group identifies workplace accommodations for differently abled people as most important?
  • What special programs or opportunities will be available to help your new hire acclimate and succeed (for example, mentoring and employee resource groups)?



This is just a sampling of possible action items. Research what other companies are doing, especially your top competitors. And remember, a diversity recruiting strategy only covers the first step — getting employees in the door.  Comprehensive retention strategies are also needed to support and promote diversity and inclusion throughout the employment life cycle.


Measure & Report Progress

How will you know if your company is making progress in diversity recruiting? One way is to define and monitor KPIs. Report progress each month or each quarter alongside business results. You may start to see a correlation between company-wide KPI progress and diversity metrics!

Common success measures include:


  • Change in diversity representation in senior leadership, management and across the company
  • Change in talent pipeline diversity
  • Employee retention
  • Employee satisfaction with diversity and inclusion
  • Employee performance
  • Manager satisfaction with new hires

This is just a sampling. There are other measures that can provide deeper insights into what’s working and where there are opportunities to improve.


Identify and Overcome Diversity Recruiting Barriers

The Diversity Recruiting Employer Benchmark Survey shows that 70% of talent acquisition experts believe increasing workplace diversity is a challenge because leaders aren’t willing to try new approaches. Recruiting staff don’t have the time or resources, and there’s a lack of funding for new diversity recruiting initiatives.

Here are a few resources that can help: