How to Start (and Sustain) Conversations with Diverse Candidates
Top talent finds diverse workplaces attractive. In fact, eighty-two percent consider diversity a part of the ideal workplace. Nobody wants to go to work in a sea of sameness, and the organizations that can recruit, acquire and retain quality employees from a variety of different backgrounds and perspectives will enjoy the fruit that diversity brings—increased innovation, performance and a swelled-to-nearly-bursting pool of talent.
If you want to increase your diversity recruitment efforts, here are four important steps to take:
Step 1: Listen and Observe
If you’re building a diversity recruitment strategy from scratch, you’ll want to find some smart individuals and organizations to help you learn. Your goal at this point is to listen and observe. You want to know what makes top talent tick. What are their personal drivers? Who are their advocates? What can employers do to meet their needs?
Begin with Not-for-Profits
The website of a well-run not-for-profit (Out in Tech, Girls Who Code, and the National Organization on Disability happen to come to mind) can be invaluable. You can review past speakers and events to understand the needs of the community better, identify relevant thought leaders or strategic partners and observe employer best practices.
Expand to Individuals on Social Media
The not-for-profits you researched should help you zero in on influential individuals with active social media activity. You’ll want to do your homework here—everyone they follow, everyone who follows them, every list they make, every mention they receive, and every hashtag they promote represents a deep well of valuable information.
Keep an Eye on Innovative Employers
Since you’re listening and observing at this stage, keep an eye on the employers who are being recognized for their commitment to diversity issues. There’s no shame in stealing great ideas, so don’t be shy about borrowing liberally from employers whom you want to emulate.
Step 2: Move to Action
Once you’ve had a chance to listen and observe, it’s time to put what you’ve learned into action. Your goal at this point is to promote your commitment to diversity in a real and conspicuous way.
Support Current Employees
The best way to make yourself attractive to diverse candidates is to provide resources and support to your current employees. What kind of form and informal mentorship and professional development programs do you have in place? How does your executive leadership team get involved? What kind of clues can your candidates pick up on from your physical environment when they visit (accessible workplace, dedicated-purpose lactation rooms, visual emergency notifications for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, etc.)? Diversity researcher and consultant Paulo Gaudiano says the actions you take to support diversity are critical. “What you say when someone asks you about D&I is not nearly as impactful as the words you speak and the actions you take.”
Get Involved with the Community
Amplify the impact of your diversity program by sharing your knowledge and resources with the community. Starting small is OK. Try to host a virtual event like a Google Hangout or Twitter Chat. You might also reach out to a local diversity group through something like Meetup (Queer Tech NYC, for example, is a New York Meetup for LGBTQ people in tech). You could offer to host or sponsor one of the group’s events or provide a speaker for an upcoming topic. When you’re ready to get involved on a deeper level, you can work with local or national groups to contribute to scholarship funds and internship opportunities for promising young people or provide support at a more formal, corporate sponsor level.
Expand Your Recruiting Efforts
Step 3: Share Your Stories
Sharing your stories is the obvious follow-up to taking action. Your goal here is to create content that promotes the activities, causes, and conversations in which you’ve invested so you can attract the attention of possible candidates and pull them into your talent pipeline. Also, it’s important to remember that just about anything counts as content, so you don’t have to plan a series of lengthy, heavily researched whitepapers. Research finds that nearly a quarter of employees value social media posts from employees as a top way for organizations to show a commitment to diversity, so share a story in a tweet, short blog post, or employee testimonial on your careers page. .
Step 4: Encourage One-on-One Conversations
The last step in your efforts is to use a robust candidate relationship management tool (CRM) to refine your diversity recruitment communication and funnel amazing candidates into your talent pipeline. A CRM will help you showcase your commitment to diversity hiring initiatives in every candidate touchpoint, including targeted email and text campaigns.