Many companies – whether they’re tiny startups or well-established enterprises – are looking for real, effective ways to diversify their teams. And workplace diversity isn’t just about race or gender. A truly diverse workplace includes people of all ages, races, ethnicities, genders, religions, abilities, sexual orientations, and ways of thinking.
There are many reasons to encourage workplace diversity, including increased productivity. Think of it this way: if all the employees at your company have had similar upbringings and parallel life experiences, then they are very likely to approach and solve problems in the same way. And that one way is not always the best way! A diverse team will often generate multiple solutions to a given challenge, leading to more refined problem solving.
Diversity also boosts a business’s bottom line. Research shows companies with more diverse teams tend to also have higher employee engagement and increased creativity, driving more innovation. The Boston Consulting Group estimates that diverse companies enjoy 19% higher revenue as a result of this diversity-rooted increase in innovation compared to their competitors.
A diverse workplace is also good for a company’s language skills, community relations, and global reach. After all, businesses that wish to be seen as modern and international can’t get very far if all of their employees are cut from the same, homogenous fabric.
Finally, a diverse workplace helps foster a positive, modern, and open company culture where people from all walks of life can come together, coexist, and cocreate. In an era where social responsibility is becoming more and more meaningful to businesses, this trend alone is reason enough for many companies to enthusiastically prioritize an inclusive, culturally rich workplace. It’s become an important factor for candidates when determining places they want to work: 76% of job seekers take a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion into account when considering job offers.
If you’re an employer interested in diversifying your company’s workforce, these five tips can help you get there.
1. Consider Scrapping Certain Requirements
College degrees. Years of experience. Glamorous internships. These achievements stand out on resumes, and for good reason. But an MBA from Harvard Business School – or even an unpaid summer spent reading scripts – isn’t an option for everyone.
When screening resumes, don’t be afraid to call in some candidates whose resumes aren’t quite as shiny as your traditional candidates’. Not everyone can afford to take on debt to attend college or graduate school, especially at brand-name, private universities. Same with un- and underpaid internships, which are a luxury many young applicants cannot afford.
Our advice: be flexible. Prerequisites should be guidelines, not rules.
2. Use Pre-Employment Testing
While some employers may view pre-employment tests as a filter that might decrease the diversity of your applicant pool, the opposite is the case. Scientifically validated pre-employment testing actually helps organizations reduce some of the subjectivity and unconscious bias in their hiring process. As a result, organizations get a more diverse candidate pool they can source from.
In fact, pre-employment assessments have been shown to be significantly less biased than more traditional screening tools like resumes and interviews. That’s because assessments measure applicants based on objective measures, whereas resumes and interviews typically require a judgment call made by a hiring manager. Using this additional objective data point can help highlight diamonds in the rough who you may have overlooked based on traditional qualifications.
Look for a pre-employment testing provider that offers aptitude, personality, and skills assessments. This information will help you predict something a resume or an internship cannot: a candidate’s future job performance. Properly identifying high-potential candidates will help you create a diverse workplace that’s also a better-performing business. Talk about a win-win!
3. Write More Inclusive Job Descriptions
Did you know that many job listings are inherently sexist? Many job descriptions are unintentionally loaded with language that carries hidden connotation, and this can easily be construed as masculine or feminine. When you write job descriptions, vigilantly work to axe any exclusionary language before posting or advertising. Examples of such words can be quite obvious, like “manpower” or “middleman.”
But other times, it’s not so clear-cut. Be on the lookout for quietly gender-charged job descriptions that mention after-hours drinking, company sports, a “work-hard-play-hard” mentality and so on. These types of terms can push excellent candidates away, especially those who are female, have children, or do not drink for health, personal, or religious reasons.
On the flipside, job descriptions that ask for “sweet, charming, polite, and fresh communicators” might signal that older or male applicants need not apply. Your business could be missing out on an excellent employee by unintentionally suggesting a certain job is only meant for young women.
To remove gender bias from your job descriptions, write neutrally and accurately. Take extra care with your job titles, which are the first thing a potential applicant sees. You don’t need an IT ninja; you need an information technology associate. You can use a tool like this free Gender Decoder to help uncover any inadvertently “gender-coded” language in your current job postings. Or check out our blog post, 6 Simple Steps to Reduce Gender Bias in Your Job Descriptions.
Finally, many businesses choose to include a statement about their commitment to inclusivity in all their job descriptions. Messages like these can go a long way in encouraging marginalized candidates to apply for your job, but they won’t work if your job descriptions are still loaded with exclusionary language.
4. Minimize Bias with Objective Processes
Bias is an ever-present obstacle to fair hiring. If you want to create an objective recruitment process that champions diversity, it’s critical to scrutinize the practices in your hiring process that may be contributing to unintentional bias.
You can work to ensure your hiring process is more fair by focusing on evidence-based candidate evaluation. This means that you work to make sure that the core criteria used to make your hiring decisions are all job-relevant and actively work to mitigate human bias.
Applications, resumes, and conversational interviews are incredible subjective ways to evaluate candidates. Focus on more objective and evidence-based methods of applicant review. This can include things like science-backed assessments to give you more data-driven information when making your hiring decision. But it can also mean leveling the playing field for your candidates by using blind hiring tools.
Blind hiring tools can help you to mitigate unconscious bias by removing information like a candidate’s name (which can suggest gender or race), location (which can imply socio-economic background), and more. For example, Criteria’s video interviewing platform has options to disguise a candidate’s voice and appearance so your evaluators can focus on the content of what the candidate is saying, instead of making unintentional assumptions about who is saying it.
5. Focus on Structured Interviewing Practices
Interviewing is inherently flawed. Why? Because it’s essentially speed dating, where chemistry and common ground mean everything. Research has shown that the most personable, charming interviewee does not always make the best hire.
That being said, most hiring managers aren’t ready to part ways with interviews, and that’s okay. You can make your interviewing process more fair and inclusive by switching from unstructured interviews to structured ones. Unstructured interviews are glorified conversations, and they are incredibly subjective. Structured interviews work to minimize bias by requiring all interviewees to answer a specific set of job-related questions. Structured interviews make it easier to compare candidates along job-relevant criteria. Research also shows that highly structured interviews are the strongest predictor of future job success, making them an invaluable tool to making informed hiring decisions.
Keep in mind that even the most structured of interviews will always leave some room for subjectivity – but by adding additional objective criteria, like pre-employment assessments, can help temper any inadvertent bias.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are a necessity for any business looking to effectively solve problems and stay ahead of the curve. To create a more modern, inclusive workplace, try reading resumes with an open mind, utilizing pre-employment testing, writing inclusive job descriptions, conducting structured interviews and making sure you focus on objective hiring criteria above all else.