Diversity recruiting

DiversityInc’s Recruitment and Hiring Playbook: 4 Strategies to Effectively Source Diverse Candidates and Build an Inclusive Pipeline

DiversityInc Best Practice’s “Recruitment and Hiring Playbook” is an insider’s guide for talent acquisition teams that provides insights on fair hiring practices, as well as tips on organizational support and accountability. Read part one here and check back soon for more insights on these essential concepts in diverse and inclusive recruiting.

Ask any talent acquisition professionals, and they’ll tell you the same thing: sourcing diverse candidates to fill an open position is always a challenge. The ability to hire talent at scale, on time and within budget requires proactively and strategically building a diverse talent pipeline. It’s not easy, but as with any challenge in the corporate world, it can be achieved with hard work and dedication.

For starters, always remember that sourcing quality candidates takes time. It’s a process that builds on itself and grows over months and years. The sooner you start identifying the necessary talent and making those connections, the easier it will be to bring them on board when the time is right. Although nobody can predict the future, there is great value in proactively building a pipeline of candidates who have the potential to join your organization when the right opportunity is available. This strategy will help when positions become available because the talent acquisition team will have candidates on standby with whom they have built relationships.

Additionally, remember that just like diversity branding, sourcing strategically should never solely be the job of a recruiter or even a dedicated “Diversity Sourcing Recruiter”. It can take the efforts and energies of numerous employees and can sometimes involve your entire leadership team.

But that effort always pays off. While the job market in 2021 may be challenging, there are many great candidates out there. Finding them just requires time, support, a bit of creativity and an overall positive mindset.

Here’s how to get started:

Step 1: Utilize advocacy associations and partner with community groups

Having an effective sourcing strategy requires knowing who it is you are trying to target. If the hiring goal is to hire more veterans, develop a sourcing strategy that will help increase visibility within the veteran community.

Widen your talent pool by using other sources for finding diverse talent. Consider advertising and investing with organizations that cater to diverse populations to meet the candidates where they are at (i.e., HBCUs, Veteran’s Affair, etc.).

Attend job fairs and sponsor events with these diverse partners. This strategy will allow you to get in front of these diverse candidates and show your organization as an ally. If there are speaking opportunities, ask how you can be a part of them. Networking opportunities can provide you with a stage and an audience of ample candidates while also enhancing your employer brand at the same time.

Consider also partnering with Minority-Serving Institutions that focus on underrepresented groups you want to target. Work with schools that build skills and generate interest in your industry to help create a pipeline of job candidates where none may have existed before. For example, if you need to hire more females in the tech industry or need more for your tech department, partner with the career centers at local technology schools to get viable candidates.

If it’s possible for your organization to do so, provide opportunities for internships or scholarships to these underrepresented demographics. In April 2021, Toyota (No. 7 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021) invested $1.7 million to help diversify the engineering workforce. As part of that effort, 35 female and minority students will be selected to receive full-tuition scholarships along with mentorship by Toyota engineers and participation in a paid co-op opportunity.

Since 2016, Wells Fargo (No. 25 in 2021) has also held an annual scholarship and emergency grant program providing funding to veterans and spouses of veterans with disabilities to get the education they need for the careers of their choice. In 2020, Southern Company (No. 20 in 2021) announced a $50 million multi-year initiative to provide students who attend HBCUs with scholarships, internships, leadership development opportunities and access to technology to support career readiness.

The impact of such efforts is astronomical and will have a profound role in your sourcing efforts as a result. Even for those students who may not receive the scholarship funds, the relationship and reputation built from these programs will provide a return on investment for a company’s candidate pipeline.

Finally, utilize your organization’s ERGs to create relationships supporting nonprofit organizations that work with the segment you are trying to attract. For example, If you want to hire more people with disabilities, encourage your ERGs and employees to support nonprofits that develop and support people with disabilities as part of their philanthropic efforts. The ROI on these efforts builds a strong foundation for both the current employees and the potential candidates. Current employees learn how they can better support people with disabilities or veterans by partaking in such endeavors and will, in turn, be seen as allies and partners to the community they serve.

Step 2: Use diverse niche job boards to attract and discover diverse new talent.

Gone are the days of relying on large job boards, especially if you are trying to develop a diverse network of candidates for your pipeline. Utilizing diverse niche job boards to search for and attract diverse talent will be a helpful strategy that can produce promising results. This strategy unites employers who are dedicated to diversity with candidates who identify in an underrepresented community. There are a plethora of job boards that cater to specific people groups, and more than likely, those who identify with that segment know about it and are sending their résumés there.

READ: 10 Tips for Using Social Media for Diversity Recruiting

DiversityInc has a job board that reaches 43% African Americans, 24% LGBTQ, 19% Latinos, 7% Asian Americans and 6% Native Americans. Candidates use DiversityInc’s job board to search for positions in IT, healthcare, accounting and sales. Every month, our job board has 1.2 million unique job searches, 5.5 million unique job page views and over 10,000 job openings.

Niche job boards such as this can provide a platform to reach the direct audience you want to attract and are also often seen as a diversity partner that advocates for diverse candidates. If you are trying to get in front of more diverse candidates, meet them where they frequently search for open positions to drive impact.

Step 3: Consider the role and value of referrals and diversity referral bonuses — but tread carefully.

It’s impossible to talk about sourcing strategies without also talking about referrals. Referrals are typically the number one source of quality new talent for most organizations. Referrals are also the biggest compliments a company can receive from their employees because it proves that your employees enjoy working there and want their friends to work there. Utilizing referrals to meet your diversity hiring goals is possible, but it’s important to avoid pitfalls.

The crucial aspect to keep in mind when it comes to referrals is that people know people, so reputation significantly impacts your referrals. Even if the person you are talking to is not the right fit for the role, their experience as a candidate can and will affect your future referrals. That person may know someone who would be an excellent fit for the role, but if they were treated poorly throughout the recruitment process with your organization, they might be hesitant to say anything to that person about the vacancy. They may even tell the person who would be a good fit for a role about their experience as a warning to steer clear of your organization. Candidate experience through every single interaction is vital to successful referrals.

To counter this, some organizations have created diversity referral bonuses to help increase their diverse candidate pool. Although usually done with good intentions, diversity referral bonuses encourage the exact behavior you are trying to eliminate. Diversity referral bonuses pay employees for referring someone to the company based on race, creed, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age or veteran status. One could easily argue that a candidate was selected over another to meet their diversity goals. It’s best to avoid this altogether by not providing diversity referral bonuses for designated referrals. If you have extra funds to put into referral bonuses, use that budget equitably by offering bonuses for every referral.

One final thought to consider: It’s essential to track the source of your candidates through the entire lifecycle to help identify how many new hires were referrals and track where you may be losing referrals in the process. It’s also crucial to track it quarter over quarter so you can stay ahead of any trends. (In the upcoming third part of this Playbook, we will highlight tracking candidates through the lifecycle as part of the “Fair Hiring Practices” section.)

Step 4: Search for competencies.

All your overall hiring and recruiting efforts are meaningless without an effective approach to building relationships with the diverse network you worked so hard to find. The common theme for effectively sourcing strategies comes down to the relationships you create through these efforts.

Every candidate that has expressed interest in your organization by applying is an opportunity for you to build your pipeline and source diverse candidates. Whether you hire them or not, the relationship you build with that applicant can help your sourcing strategy if their experience is ultimately positive. Those diverse candidates may have a resource they recommend utilizing, or they may know someone who would be a great fit for your organization.

READ: Insights Into Effective Diverse Candidate Slates and Goal Setting

Consider the long-term effect for your organization by looking for innovators who have the potential to help evolve your organization over time. Evaluate the experience of those already on staff to see if any trends in their background could lead you to another sourcing opportunity.

Think outside the job description and develop a strategy that will allow you to search for competencies and transferrable skills. It’s another way to build long-term employees who are as committed to you and your organization as you are to them. However, it starts by having a conversation with those viable candidates to learn more about their skills and potential.

Sourcing diverse candidates is a challenge, to say the least, especially in challenging job markets. Like most things in life, if a method works, it’s hard to take a different approach. When you add those diversity hiring goals that are always lingering in everyone’s minds, it’s easier to stick to the tried-and-true methods.

However, the outcome and the long-term benefits of these strategies will pay out tenfold. It will support your employer brand equity and have astronomical effects on your DE&I initiatives because you are exhibiting to your workforce and customers that diversity, equity and inclusion are critical in every business area — including where you source for candidates.

About the author

Dana Noweder, M.Ed., SHRM-CP joined DiversityInc as senior manager of client fulfillment in November 2020. She serves as an advisor on diversity and inclusion data, programs, initiatives and best practices. Noweder’s extensive experience in Talent Acquisition has allowed her to develop recruiting and onboarding strategies that enhanced the employee and candidate experience while creating dynamic, inclusive workplace cultures from the ground up.

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