Tips for Hiring a Diverse Workforce by Diane Faulkner

Tips for Hiring a Diverse Workforce

Ethnically diverse teams are good for your company culture and can benefit your bottom line. Attracting and retaining a more diverse workforce starts with a thoughtful diversity, equity, and inclusion plan.

by Diane Faulkner
updated October 21, 2020 ·  min read

Diversity of thought adds value to the bottom line of any business, and today many companies are instituting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles to achieve that goal.

Benefits of a Diverse Workforce

Implementing diverse and inclusive practices into your business may sound like a big job, but the advantages outweigh the work.

"Ethnically diverse leadership teams are 36% more likely to be profitable than their peers," says Rosanna Duncan, chief diversity officer at Palladium, "and companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams are 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability."

Companies like yours could reap these benefits.

How to Get Started With Diversity

How can companies get started on the DEI path?

Grant Weinberg, vice president of talent acquisition, HR operations and HR information systems for TriNet, offers the following tips to help you model the right behaviors for attracting and retaining a diverse workforce:

  • Communications. Remove gender bias from your internal and external communications.
  • Talent communities. Connect your Employee Resource Groups to your talent communities to create engagement and a better sense of belonging.
  • Talent channels. Focus on sources that engage, nurture, and develop diverse talent communities.
  • Blind résumés. Remove demographic data from résumés to ensure you hire the best candidate for the role.
  • Diverse interview panels. Ensure your diverse candidates feel represented by having an interview panel that represents a diverse population.
  • Accountability. Track and measure progress, then tweak where necessary.

To get employees involved in branding your company as the place to work, Vikram Tarugu, MD, CEO of Detox of South Florida, suggests utilizing testimonials.

"Testimonials allow your employees to talk about how your company values and lives diversity through its culture and actions," he says. "These personal statements can help various job seekers feel they are welcome and supported, and can be successful at work."

Terms to Avoid in Job Listings

Many companies are starting to include in their job listings "only" terms, such as "digital native only" (which implies age discrimination) or "strongly urged to apply" terms, such as "people of color strongly urged to apply" (which implies racial discrimination).

Aaron Tandy, attorney and head of the employment law section for Pathman Lewis LLC, reminds companies that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission "has indicated it's illegal to request or exclude somebody who is in a protected class. In general, it is inappropriate for an employer to state in a hiring advertisement a preference for a specific protected class unless there is a bona fide occupational qualification [BFOQ] to justify the preference."

Protected classes include age, race, color, creed, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

"In certain circumstances, based on state or federal programs or mandates, it may be appropriate to indicate a hiring preference for veterans or disabled people to qualify or comply with an affirmative obligation in a government contract to recruit such protected classes," Tandy says. "Similarly, it's possible for religious organizations to have a BFOQ advertised with regard to someone's religious practices to keep with the mission of that religious entity."

In any case, the preference must be clearly stated in the job posting as well as adding the phrase "equal opportunity employer" or "EOE."

In practice, should two veterans, for example, apply for an open position, a female could not be given preference over a male, or an African American could not be given preference over an Asian candidate. The veteran status is what is preferred over a nonveteran status, not one protected status over another.

"It is very rare to establish some sort of legitimate BFOQ on the basis of [a protected class]," Tandy says. "Anybody who's thinking about putting in a qualification should talk to their employment counsel to make sure there's a BFOQ and they can justify putting it in." Trying to correct an imbalance is not a sufficient reason to include such terms in a job listing.

In the end, "It's not your CEO. It's not your executive leadership team. And it's certainly not your recruitment team that is going to change to diversify your workforce," Weinberg says. "It's your whole workforce that is going to diversify the organization."

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Diane Faulkner

About the Author

Diane Faulkner

Diane Faulkner is a ghostwriter, content marketing strategist, and editor based in Jacksonville, Florida. She specialize… Read more