From the Ground Up: 5 intentional recruiting practices for building diverse and inclusive organizations

White, Male… We can’t deny that those are still the primary descriptors that come to mind as we move towards the capstone of the corporate pyramid. How can we progress towards a leadership team reflective of the ethno cultural and gender diversity embodied by our population? To increase the number of women at the top and create more diverse and inclusive organizations, we need to consider our recruiting practices.


We asked our panelists--Ashley Babinecz, Director of Talent Acquisition at AppNexus; Kamilah Mitchell-Thomas, SVP Human Resources and Global People Management at A+E; Stephanie Sandberg, Director of Out Leadership and President of Sandberg Consulting; and Diane Herz, Chief Diversity Officer at Mathematica Policy Research--for our upcoming Changing the Conversation event (April 26th at AppNexus!) for some tips on intentional diversity recruiting, and they offered a wealth of wisdom. Here are the highlights:


Be intentional and transparent about Diversity Recruiting. Set clear goals and track progress. Establish diversity incentives at the pipeline level and aim for a diverse set of qualified candidates (a good rule of thumb: include two diversity candidates in every hiring slate). It’s critical that you not only advocate to ensure Diversity and Inclusion initiatives are part of your company’s strategic plan but that, in conversation with decision-makers and colleagues, you refer back to these initiatives often and drive home why they’re important to the success of your teams and broader organization. Everyone has a role to play in building inclusive teams, so make this work central and imperative to everything you do, and make it visible so the accountability is shared and owned by your entire organization.


Proactively reach out to diverse sources of talent. It’s hard to find a vegan at a butcher shop… let us explain: in order to attract the candidates you’re seeking, you have to reach them where they are. At the very least, promote job openings on job sites, professional organizations and colleges where there is a greater percentage of women and minorities underrepresented in your organization. Forge alliances with individuals and organizations who can assist with that outreach and help you garner a stronger presence in those communities.


CFW ProTip: Consider Cultivating a Talent Pipeline: Some organizations like Jun Group are reaching as far back as high school to cultivate that future pipeline of talent.


Write job descriptions that attract diverse applicants. Think tabula rasa—your job description should be a blank slate that any candidate can see themself in. Be attuned to the way you describe the role and the qualifications you’re seeking that will attract or dissuade women and other under-represented candidates. There are tools like Textio, Unitive, and Gender Decoder that are designed to help you write job descriptions to attract diverse talent.


Hiring diverse talent means you also have to acknowledge differences in opportunity afforded to underrepresented populations and how they feed into a candidate’s experience. A willingness to offer wiggle room within certain requirements will take you far. Consider how you can open the qualifications to embrace diversity. IBM, for example, stopped requiring 4-year degrees for many programming positions once they realized they weren’t necessary in order for an otherwise qualified candidate to excel.


The interview process is key. In addition to building pipeline through all sources, your interview panel needs to reflect the diversity you're looking to hire. Your panel, just as your candidate pool, should take into account multiple perspectives and personalities. A diverse panel will help enrich the interview process as these members will be able to formulate questions that probe more broadly and deeply into what the candidate brings to the table, and the value the candidate brings to the organization. That can make all the difference.


Think of your interview panelists as your company ambassadors; If candidates are able to identify in some way with their interviewers it makes an astronomical difference in terms of how they see themselves fitting into your team. Don’t forget that candidates are assessing how they fit into the puzzle as much, if not more, than you are throughout their interview process.


Take a look at your Employer Brand. Who is, literally, the face of your firm and what do potential employees see when they visit your website and view your marketing materials? If your organization presents cookie-cutter it will be less appealing to candidates who break the mold. If you find that your employee population is predominantly white male, you can still begin to message your aspiration to become more diverse and inclusive—sponsor events like Changing the Conversation, openly support organizations working to close the pay gap, send your executives to speak at events on/about diversity as a key organizational goal, use social media to show a commitment to diversity.


One more thing: When was your last checkup? To successfully execute the above, dig deep into your own cultural expectations and unconscious biases; awareness is half the battle (intentional execution is the other half). Try this exercise: draw the ideal individual for the job you're filling. Include attributes and competencies. Then read this piece from The New York Times. Ask yourself: Are all of your figures also male? Did you think about not only gender but other aspects of diversity, and did that go into your drawing? Is there an arrow that indicates difference? Free-form sketching tends to bring out your real thinking.


Add these diversity dimensions to your next sketch, and hold onto it as a reminder that diversity is in fact a core competency that you need to solve for in the hiring process. Come join us on Thursday, April 26th to learn more about successful D&I initiatives from the experts themselves.