With the rise of collaborative technologies making global communication more possible, many companies are beginning to realize the potential to diversify their employee base. The ability to reach a wider variety of candidates opens up the hiring process to people of various backgrounds with notable skills that could significantly benefit any company.
But creating a more diverse work environment isn’t always simple. At Talent Hackers’ 4th NYC meetup recently, panelists shared their challenges with and creative solutions to creating a more diverse workplace. Speakers included Jarrod Dicker, Head of Commercial Product and Operations at RebelMouse; Nathalie Molina Nino, CRO at Power to Fly; Jason Greenhouse, Recruiting Manager at Etsy; and Kathryn Minshew, CEO and Founder of The Muse. Zofia Ciechowska, Strategist at Undercurrent, led the discussion.
To ensure that your strategy to diversify is effective, check out these ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ of creating a more diverse employee base as indicated by the panelists.
DO market your company as welcoming and diverse.
DON’T make your office look completely homogeneous.
When attempting to attract candidates of various genders, races, and backgrounds into a company, it’s important that those potential employees can actually see themselves working there. Greenhouse advised that companies send their more diverse employees to job fairs and recruiting events as a way to accurately showcase the company’s hiring goal. He also pointed out that marketing is often used as a recruiting tool, and that people who only see one type of person featured in a campaign will be turned off by a company’s apparent uniformity.
Along similar lines, Minshew stressed the importance of avoiding any sort of biased language in a job description, whether it be gender, racial, or otherwise. Research shows that women respond to different job titles and descriptions more often than men, and that recruiters should be aware of the possible deterring effects of their language. As a way to test for these types of biases, Greenhouse recommended an online tool called TextIO: it rates your job descriptions based on their neutral or biased language.
DO reach out to minorities as possible candidates.
DON’T make your new candidates feel alienated.
As women in the technology and information fields, both Minshew and Molina Nino have had experiences with being the only woman in a room full of men. Minshew cautioned against companies who may be entirely composed of one type of person (all white men, for instance): they may be well-intentioned in attempting to diversify their office, but they actually end up alienating their potential candidates when they only hire one new employee. Molina Nino said that at this early stage of diversification, critical mass is key. Instead of bringing in just one different employee at a time, bring in enough to compose 33% of the staff. This not only makes people feel more comfortable, but it also begins to permeate the workplace culture more effectively.
DO ensure a parity of candidates in the pipeline.
DON’T lose sight of the employee requirements.
When sifting through applicants, the panelists stressed the importance of considering a range of candidates with different backgrounds and expertise. Dicker said that companies should provide equal opportunity to all applicants – both those that fit uniformly within the current employee base and those that are more diverse – and then evaluate everyone equally. Ultimately, though, he noted the importance of hiring the best person for the job. Just hiring someone for the sake of his or her race or gender is not an effective strategy. Molina Nino echoed this sentiment: while diversity is important, companies can’t lose sight of solving their business problem.
DO embrace remote workers.
DON’T exclude them from office culture.
All panelists agreed that one of the best ways to ensure a more diverse work environment is to welcome remote workers into the office. Dicker and Molina Nino quickly addressed the myth that the traditional, centralized office model is cheaper than the remote model. They noted that the technology available to make remote employment possible is convenient, effective, and affordable.
Greenhouse pointed out that allowing people to work remotely opens up a much wider range of candidates. Many talented people who can’t work regular hours or make certain meetings due to family or other commitments are completely glossed over in the hiring process, just because they’re expected to adhere to a traditional office model. By providing them the flexibility to work from home, a company can not only hire from more diverse backgrounds, but it could also bring on talent it wouldn’t have found otherwise.
But while remote working is efficient and appealing, Dicker said that those employees who work on-site must make sure to include those workers in office culture. Email birthday reminders, an online office board to share photos, and keeping an open line of communication between all employees will ensure that people feel included, regardless of whether they’re onsite or not.