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. Check back soon for more insights on these essential concepts in diverse and inclusive recruiting.
Let’s face it, talent acquisition teams carry the weight of the company on their shoulders. After all, who they decide to bring into the organization sets the tone for everything else. When you add diversity recruitment and hiring into the mix, the challenges involved in doing your job — and doing it well — become even greater. It becomes so much more than simply hitting a hiring goal for the sake of diversity.
Diversity recruiting is a long game, and there are consequences around every corner. It is also everyone’s responsibility within the organization — not just talent acquisition, HR or the DEI team. In order for that team to successfully meet the diversity hiring initiatives, everyone needs to stand true to the company’s core values, its genuine intentions, as well as its diversity goals. Diversity recruiting and hiring is about doing the right thing by all people by removing the biases as best we can to find the right person for the job.
Understanding “diversity brand equity”
Maintaining and promoting your company’s brand is mission-critical when it comes to almost all recruitment efforts. Without a strong employer brand, candidates won’t truly know who they are going to work for and are left to hope for the best. Even worse yet, they’re left to guess, a scenario no one wants to encourage.
While the company’s brand is an essential consideration for anybody working in talent acquisition, an even more important concept to always keep in mind is “diversity brand equity,” or how potential employees (and consumers alike) see a company when they think of it from a diversity perspective. When a company has a high level of diversity brand equity, it ensures that underrepresented candidates can see themselves working for your organization. It also provides them with that sense that they would belong as part of a company’s workforce, building excitement to hit that apply button.
Why it matters
It’s one thing to publicly state your commitment to diversity; it’s another thing to act upon that statement. Diversity brand equity allows you to show anyone outside of your workforce that your organization is serious about its commitment to diversity in every area of business. This is an opportunity to walk the talk and showcase to candidates, prospective customers, and even current employees that diversity, equity and inclusion truly matters to your organization. Highlighting your authentic intention to promote diversity and inclusion – and showing that it’s not something you are doing because it’s trendy right now or because you are motivated by how it could ultimately impact your bottom line – will help to create a more favorable opinion with anyone who might be learning about your organization. It will also dramatically help with new hires and talent acquisition as many potentials applicants want to see DEI at the core of any organization. In other words, it’s a win-win on almost every level.
How to achieve better diversity brand equity within your organization:
Refresh and revamp your job descriptions.
For many potential workforce candidates, open job descriptions are the first window into the organization. For that reason, you should think of the job openings as more than just a career checklist that a good candidate needs to hit. Instead, think of them as mini advertisements and promotional commercials for your company.
Use your available job openings to market your organization to the candidates you are trying to attract. Include details in your job advertisements about the company culture, the team atmosphere, how your organization supports work-life balance (i.e., for working parents), and so on.
Make sure job ads are accurate and inclusive. Don’t assume candidates will go to the company website to learn more about the organization. If a job ad is done effectively, the candidates should be saying yes to all of the responsibilities and requirements listed, which means you will have their attention on what the organization does and what is at the core of the business.
Use this as a space to tell them why they should work for you and what the company is doing to create the most inclusive work environment possible. Be as accurate as possible with everything you say and paint a clear picture of the “what, why and how” so the candidates can accurately envision themselves as a part of your workforce.
Although you can always refer individuals to your careers site, neglecting to include important details in your job description wastes what may be your only chance to interact with a potential candidate.
Use neutral and unbiased language everywhere!
One common way organizations are ensuring brand equity is utilizing neutral and unbiased language in every area of the business — not only with job descriptions but also with careers pages, social media channels and even company blog posts. Anywhere externally and internally that represents your organization should be audited for gender-neutral and unbiased language.
However, it’s important not to sacrifice accuracy in an attempt to soften the language. Use inclusive, balanced language while avoiding overly specific personality language like “killing the competition.” Carefully review the job ads for the pronouns used, removing adjectives closely associated with a particular gender. When describing the tasks of the ideal candidate, use “s/he,” or better yet, “you” to allow the candidate to see themselves in the role. Many companies leverage their ERGs for assistance to review job ads and provide feedback. This strategy provides the TA team with a neutral, outsider’s perspective regarding the content in their job ads, which can, in turn, provide instrumental and invaluable feedback.
Sharpen and perfect your application process.
You can have awards and accolades listed all over your website, but if an individual has trouble applying for a job they are interested in, what’s the point? Oftentimes, organizations don’t consider important details like how someone who is sight-impaired or lacks certain technical skills can easily and efficiently apply. What accommodations are you communicating to someone who is having a hard time sending in their resume and needs assistance? Are those candidates just getting frustrated and not applying? What if someone doesn’t have access to a computer but is interested in working for your organization? Are those applications reaching your desk?
Simply having a badge on your website showcasing that you are an inclusive employer just isn’t enough. You need to think about your entire hiring process and everything it entails and make sure that is inclusive as well. For example, are you requiring people to put in the year they graduated from college? For a company claiming to be inclusive and unbiased, this kind of potential age-based discrimination doesn’t just create confusion, it can also lead to a bias with those potentially looking to work with your organization.
In turn, these types of seemingly minor issues hint to candidates that you don’t actually mean what you say about having an inclusive culture. For candidates who are sincerely looking for an organization where DE&I is a priority, you are sending the wrong message and likely losing your ideal candidates in the application process as a result. Eliminating these types of application snafus will ultimately bolster your diversity brand because it shows you have taken the time to consider every single person who might be applying to work for your company. It also shows that you are providing them with any possible accommodations. After all, actions do truly speak louder than words.
Audit your pictures, videos and images online.
Companies that are serious about improving their diversity brand should consider improving every area of the business, including the images and videos on the website, social media channels, client presentations and recruitment advertisements. Are the images in all these digital assets representative of the talent you are trying to attract?
Any image you choose to use should help potential job candidates feel like they belong. Promotional images should be natural and organic, showcasing the day-to-day of a company. Testimonial videos should come from people in various roles at all levels within the organization discussing what they like about working within your company. Keeping all these materials diverse and inclusive creates an additional level of attachment to your company with potential recruits and enhances their existing enthusiasm for securing a new position with your company.
Whatever you do, don’t use clip art or staged photos. Make sure you are being authentic because, without authenticity, your efforts are meaningless.
As you start this process, remember that it’s vital to take the time to audit every single image and video attached to the organization — and do it often. From the careers page to your blog posts, the images you display are going to impact your brand. Include details that set you apart from other companies, such as required anti-racist training for all employees; incentives like executive compensation based on D&I goals; and the company’s philanthropic efforts. These details further support your company’s diversity brand and will have an impact on your recruitment goals.
Keep in mind that candidates who truly desire diversity and inclusion in the workplace will examine your company’s entire website and all social outlets for consistency with that core value. More and more consumers are also considering diversity and inclusion when researching companies they do business with, so making sure images and videos accurately reflect a company is more important than ever and can even affect a business’ bottom line.
Be Open to Feedback
Diversity, equity and inclusion is not solely the responsibility of the talent acquisition and/or HR teams — it’s the responsibility of every single employee at all levels. If you have a diversity initiative and your employees are brought into it, provide them with an opportunity to bring their ideas and/or concerns to the forefront if they see something that contradicts the company’s intentions. They can and will provide valuable feedback on your employer brand and help further your diversity brand equity. Being open to constant feedback shows employees that they work for a sincerely inclusive employer. Diversity brand equity isn’t just a “one and done” task. It’s a cycle that needs to be consistently evaluated and audited as the business continues to cultivate and develop.
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.