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10 tips to kickoff your diversity recruitment strategy

Integrating DE&I into the fibers of your company can be quite the undertaking, especially if your predecessors did not have it as a key indicator of success. Here are the top actionable tips for you to make the case for and launch a diversity hiring initiative at your own organization.


Rethink the way you think about diversity

1. Become comfortable with the ‘uncomfortable’ topics

Before we begin to think about making a change within our organizations, we need to become comfortable with the ‘uncomfortable’ topics. When addressing diversity and inclusion, we’re going to face issues that are often difficult and nuanced. We need to approach things with an open mind, and that includes rethinking our strategies and even our verbiage. Using a term like ‘diverse person’ can make the topic alienating, as if it’s ‘us VS them. Smithsons recommends using the term “underrepresented candidate” and thinking about how these candidates will bring together unique and productive perspectives.


Create actionable steps to begin your diversity hiring initiative


2. Start by assessing what doesn’t work

It’s important to start at a place of reevaluation. Traditional key metrics don’t work when we’re thinking about diversity. Labeling and numbering certain “types” of person, can create a unholistic and worse, toxic environment. When you put people into traditional boxes, you’re not able to focus on the unique traits that bring together a blend of different perspectives. Work on defining your own key metrics specific to D&I; in your organization, and start trying new ways of assessment.


3. Adjust your outward facing employer branding

Think about the way you’re portraying the company, from the website, to brand messaging, to pictures on Glassdoor. Talent Acquisition Marketing is one of your most important elements because representation matters. When actively sourcing, think about your messaging on your job boards. When thinking about partnerships, align with different organizations that are key to building pools of diverse talent. Partnering with a company like Smithsons help to establish a thoughtful strategy to diversify pipelines and create visibility it pockets of talented people.


For example, you'll see a huge impact on your pipeline by simply listing jobs on diversity recruiting sites such as NAACP and Ebony.


4. Proactively reach out to underrepresented candidates

This is one of the most important things you can do. When it comes to diversity hiring, much of the implementation exists in the first stages of the recruiting process. To make the most impact, proactively reach out to a diverse pool of applicants.


It is equally important to come up with a diversity sourcing strategy for every role. Focus less on the holistic company numbers and more on the makeup of the team you’re recruiting for. Ask what diversity looks like on that team and go after profiles that are underrepresented - the most prevalent demographics currently on that team might differ than across the company or even your industry. From there, engage with prospects and bring them into the interview process and evaluate everyone as fairly as possible.


6. Work on reducing bias in the recruiting and interview processes

We can’t fully escape our biases, but we can actively work to reduce them. When it comes to reducing bias around social class or income level, we need to invest in communities and partner with organizations that help lift those underrepresented communities. These groups can help provide a pathway into our organizations.


It’s important to also create a recruiting experience that’s comfortable and accessible to all. We need to find ways to set all people up for success. We should standardize interview questions ahead of time for each role, as well as paying close attention to scheduling and technological additions for video interviewing and remote work.


Be inclusive


7. Create a “safe space” culture where vulnerability is honored and celebrated

When vulnerability is not only accepted, but celebrated, people will feel that they can be their authentic selves. When people feel they can be their true selves, they thrive and they stay. Lauren stated, “build a workspace like the one you want to live in - One that’s inclusive, intersectional and where people have a sense of belonging.” If we approach diversity and inclusion with a sense of compassion and curiosity, growth is inevitable.


Move away from trying to find individuals who “fit” exactly into your culture. “Culture add” interviews allow us to get a sense of a person’s values. This way, you’re able to hire people that resonate with your mission who will have a desire to get the ball rolling on inclusion initiatives.


8. Tailor your messaging by audience when getting company buy-in for ERGs

Ahh, here is a topic that Smithsons knows all to well. Employee Resource Groups, or ERGs, are crucial to an inclusive culture. When speaking to executives about supporting ERGs, it can be helpful to tie it back to business objectives.


This doesn’t necessarily have to mean ROI. It’s a business imperative to take care of your people. Happiness and belonging are things that make a huge difference in a person’s work life. You may have to get a bit more granular with data for your research when presenting to finance teams, but you’ll be able to display the effect that these groups have on employee satisfaction and retention.


Measure the success of your initiatives


9. Define success by creating diversity recruiting KPIs

It’s incredibly important to create diversity recruiting KPIs so that you’re able to measure success. At Smithsons, we take a look at the diversity sourcing percentage. We look at the number of hires for which we implemented a diversity sourcing tactic and divide that by overall hires per quarter. This helps us assess our success in diversity hiring. We commit to implementing one diversity sourcing strategy in every role that we are hired to fill.

It’s crucial to utilize your resources such as Glassdoor reviews or company wide surveys. Data can be hard to assess, but when you gauge someone's feelings in the process, you can’t deny it. It all means something, you just need to find the best way to process it.


10. Be mindful when presenting D&I data and findings

You can leverage people data as a way to tell your D&I; story. Looking at inclusion data can be emotional, so you’ll need to prepare everyone involved. People will be shocked when seeing the numbers, as they can be very telling of the harsh realities of inequality or unhappiness within an organization. It’s important to present these findings in a safe space and prepare your audience for those emotions. It is going to make some people uncomfortable. However, that’s ok; uncomfortability drives us to change.



When we make an effort within our organizations to prioritize diversity and inclusion, these initiatives are able to be successful. Talking about diversity and inclusion can be a difficult thing, but the above tips can bring you one step closer to establishing your own initiatives.



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