Common Diversity Recruiting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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Are you still holding out on making impactful changes because of common diversity recruiting mistakes? Even as the year comes to a close, we’re confident that diversity recruiting will continue to be a focus in 2022 and beyond. After all, in 2021, an overwhelming 98% of companies cited it as an organizational focus, compared to 78% in 2018

Despite the social and professional importance of a dedicated diversity recruiting effort, many organizations lack the action steps they need to take to make a difference. Our research shows that only 5% of companies have a documented diversity strategy that recruiting teams are held accountable for. For many, this apprehension is due to the fear of making mistakes. Before we dive in, let’s start with this. 

You’re going to make mistakes. Everyone does. 
It’s okay when mistakes happen!

The problem arises when those mistakes aren’t corrected. So let’s dive in and look at some common diversity recruiting mistakes and how you can avoid and fix them.

Common Diversity Recruiting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Diversity recruiting will look different depending on your team, but there are some mistakes that we’ve seen fairly often. We’ve gathered 6 of them here to help you get started.

Not Talking About It

The #1 mistake when it comes to diversity recruiting? Not talking about it! We get it – talking about diversity can feel uncomfortable. You may avoid talking about it because you’re concerned about how you’ll be perceived or that you’ll use the wrong terms, or you may feel that it’s not your place, but if you value diversity at the office, then it’s your place.

One of our most popular blog posts of all time is our January 2020 post, How to Start the Conversation About Diversity & Inclusion, which shows how much support we need to provide people as these conversations get kicked off. Head on over to that post to get the tips you need to open one of the most important conversations you’ll have at work.

Missing Documented Goals and Strategies

Like we mentioned in the intro, only 5% of companies surveyed have a fully documented diversity strategy. Compiling goals and strategy may feel like nothing more than a stumbling block on the way to success, but the fact of the matter is that you can’t be successful without knowing what success looks like.

How do you build the right strategy for you? Start here. You’re going to have to be honest and clear about where your company and team are currently at. It could mean confronting some uncomfortable truths, but there’s no better starting point than today.

Bias Creep in Job Requirements, Descriptions, and Postings

Bias creep is when unconscious bias creeps into a conversation or document. Unconscious bias is a critical issue to tackle head-on. 

Do you require multiple years of experience for an entry-level role? Do you request that all experience be progressive? Are you using “he/she” in your job posting or description?

While these things may seem innocuous, they are biases.

When working with a hiring manager, and you see questionable requirements, ask, “Why?” Why does this role need that level of experience? Do they need those years, or are there just specific skills you’re looking for?

When you are writing job posts, you can use the gender-neutral (and entirely grammatically correct) “they” or try using “you” to pull the reader in. It’s also important to be aware of the connotations of some of the terms in your text and how readers could perceive them. It’s well worth taking the extra time to ensure that your requirements, descriptions, and postings are welcoming to all!

Unpaid or Underpaid Roles

For many years, the way into an industry was with roles like internships that paid in experience rather than a salary. While this worked great for the companies’ bottom-line, it also provided opportunities only to those who could afford to work for free.

Underpaying employees tends to have the same results – closed doors to the people who need a salary to thrive.

As a recruiter, you likely won’t have a significant role, if any, in deciding the salary for a position. But if you build the Talent Advisor relationship with your hiring managers, you could play a role in the conversation about the importance of a living wage. If you’re working with a leader who has expressed interest in diversity recruiting, you can play a major role in ensuring that they understand the problem with underpaying employees. Arm yourself with information about standard pay rates and use your experience placing talented candidates to share what other people in that kind of role have been paid.

Inaccessible Applications or Interview Processes

Now we’re not just talking broken links here; we’re talking accessibility like alt text, captions, and ease-of-use. Suppose you’re looking to increase inclusivity and diversity. In that case, one of the most significant changes you can make right now is to audit your application and interview processes and implement accessibility features.

Alt text and captions are some of the easiest ways to increase accessibility. Make sure to avoid jargon if possible and make sure that fonts are easy to read. For more tips, check out this page to help ensure that your career pages are welcoming to all.

When it comes to interviewing, can you adjust your schedule to accommodate candidates who may not be able to interview during standard business hours? If not, how can you set up a system that allows you to connect with them when it’s possible for both of you? If you’re using pre-recorded videos, how are you ensuring that people who have difficulties with eye contact aren’t inadvertently being marked down for being “untrustworthy”? 

Ask questions about your processes and consider how people with abilities different from yours are welcomed into the experience. There are also experts you can bring in to audit your systems and make them more accessible for all!

Relying Too Little or Too Much on Data

We love data. We’ve probably made that pretty clear at this point. It can be constructive when it comes to diversity recruiting. But data can sometimes preclude our ability to see people as people.

You need to define where data fits into your strategy and understand what the limits of that data are. Data is an excellent thing to use in survey and feedback collection, understanding your organization’s current diversity, or defining direct goals. But data can only go so far. Data won’t make action happen; it just shows you where that action needs to happen.

While these diversity recruiting mistakes are common, that doesn’t mean they can’t be avoided or fixed should they happen. Like we said in the introduction, mistakes will happen… it’s what you do next that matters even more.

Don't stop now. Keep reading!

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