A level playing field: The importance of a diversity hiring process

A successful diversity hiring process accomplishes two key goals: Creating an even playing field for all candidates, and attracting the best possible talent.

There's no argument among successful companies that finding top candidates for an open role is good for business. Attracting exceptional talent means placing capable professionals in a position to succeed, both in their personal career plans and for the benefit of the organization as a whole.

To effectively identify, hire and onboard the best of the best, businesses need to draw from the largest possible pool of qualified candidates. This is where a sophisticated diversity hiring process offers a crucial avenue to success. Let's take a closer look at what diversity hiring is, why it supports corporate social responsibility and positive business outcomes, challenges related to it and more.

Why is diversity hiring important?

On a foundational level, a successful diversity hiring process addresses unequal access to opportunities resulting in imbalanced representation within an organization. Businesses that make a strong commitment to attracting diverse candidates, and follow through on that promise, support an economy where everyone qualified for a given position has equal access to it.

At the same time, diversity hiring supports practical business needs. Limiting a talent search can only decrease the number of qualified applicants. An expansive hiring strategy that identifies and removes unconscious biases and outdated, harmful practices in recruiting means better operational and financial outcomes as well.

There are plenty of examples of the economic case for more diverse hiring. For example, Letian Zhang, an assistant professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School, published research on gender diversity and business success. Zhang found that increased gender diversity leads to positive outcomes in market value and revenue in societies that believe gender diversity is important.

The diversity hiring process prioritizes consistent outreach to groups traditionally underserved and underrepresented during such efforts in the past. That means:

  • Far more qualified candidates gain the opportunity to apply for and earn a position, including members of groups that have been historically excluded.
  • Businesses can identify more relevant, high-performing prospects and hire truly exceptional ones.
  • Companies broaden perspectives with diverse employees. Organizations can incorporate that broad range of viewpoints into everything from internal discussions and policymaking to the development of new products and services.

This type of inclusion, and the creation of a level playing field, supports both broad social and company-level economic progress.

It's important to note that diversity hiring isn't the only name used to refer to this overarching effort to correct exclusionary policies and attract the very best talent. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a common term that underscores three key principles:

  1. Diversity: Drawing candidates from diverse backgrounds, in the context of everything from life experiences and countries of origin to sexual orientations, culture, race and ethnicity.
  2. Equity: Providing equal opportunities for all candidates and employees to secure a position as well as grow and prosper within the organization, up to its highest levels.
  3. Inclusion: Fostering a company culture that embraces all employees, in part by making available the resources needed for all employees, including those from diverse backgrounds, to succeed.

Learn more about Beacon Hill's commitment to DEI within our own organization.

Diversity in hiring supports broad social good along with better business outcomes.

How do you measure diversity?

Measuring diversity can be a complex process, but the results are a vital part of an effective approach to diversity hiring and DEI initiatives. Understanding a company's level of diversity, along with successes and failures in improving it, leads to more educated decision-making and a stronger grasp of potential issues and opportunities.

Internal surveys, anonymized and providing an opt-out for anyone who doesn't wish to share such information, can be a path to assessing the current level of diversity within a business. If your organization doesn't engage in this practice already, it's a good starting point. Setting a baseline and comparing internal statistics to national averages and similar metrics can help indicate areas where attention and improvement are needed.

Key metrics to consider include diversity recruitment and efforts to build talent pipelines from culturally diverse schools and organizations, but go far beyond them as well. Businesses should also look at the long term, taking factors like retention of women and diverse candidates into account, as HR Technologist suggested. Disparities in this area might suggest that staff don't feel supported in their roles, requiring additional emphasis on inclusion of diverse employees to resolve the issue.

What are the challenges of diverse hiring?

Challenges in diverse hiring can come in many forms, but nearly all can be addressed with the right level of attention and resources, along with a sincere commitment to resolving them.

Job postings and descriptions are one area that deserves attention, especially if your organization hasn't taken any past action in this regard. Unconscious bias can influence the language used, which may then discourage some otherwise-qualified applicants from applying. Gendered language that refers to "rock stars," "ninjas" and similar terms often associated with men can discourage other candidates who don't identify with that gender, for example.

Something as simple as defining the interview schedule and process can unintentionally limit lower-income students, who are more likely to work and attend school at the same time, as well as working parents, the Society for Human Resources Management explained. Learners and active professionals in these categories may have more rigid schedules than the average candidate. That means offering only a single interview time and date can cause problems when attempting to balance work, school and personal schedules. Businesses should instead look for more flexible solutions, like sharing open blocks of time or using scheduling software that allows the candidate to select an interview slot that fits into their schedule.

Supporting your diversity hiring goals

Beacon Hill has established a strong, sustained commitment to DEI in our own operations as well as in talent recruitment efforts for the clients we serve. We recognize the foundational social value of supporting an even playing field for all qualified candidates, along with the business benefits that come from the range of perspectives and experiences held by a diverse staff. When your company partners with Beacon Hill, you can count on skilled recruiters who practice equal employment opportunity values as they seek out the best possible talent for your needs. To learn more about how we can support your diversity hiring goals, get in touch with us today.

This content is brought to you by the Marketing Team at Beacon Hill Staffing Group.

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