No matter how much the industry conversation turns to diversity and inclusion, some people still get uncomfortable talking about it. Some people feel as if their thoughts and experiences don’t belong in the conversation, some people don’t want to say the wrong thing, and some just don’t know where to start.

If you’re in the position to open the conversation about diversity and inclusion needs on your team or for a role that you’re filling for, we want you to go into that conversation prepared.

Ask Questions

Starting off by asking questions helps you get a better understanding of their perspective and their goals. Maybe they’re already working on making recruiting diversely a goal, but it hasn’t been shared publicly yet or maybe they haven’t thought about it at all and simply asking a question will help them see the possibilities. Open the conversation with something like, “As a company, what are we doing to focus our efforts on recruiting diversely? How are we making sure that our workplace is inclusive beyond the hiring process?”

Have the Numbers

Higher-level managers tend to love a clear number and honest statistics. While it’s been proven time and time again that diverse and inclusive workplaces are more successful, some people need to see the numbers. Having information about the effect of having a diverse and inclusive workplace at the ready could be all that needs to happen to make change happen. We put together a compilation of some of the biggest effects here.

While you’re sharing the statistics, make sure that everyone involved at the decision-making level is also clear on the definition of “diversity” and “inclusion.” It may seem obvious to you, but remember that if this is a new conversation it may not be as obvious to others. Diversity is about understanding, respecting, and valuing differences between people including demographics (like sex, gender, orientation, age, etc.) and other differences (like education level, personalities, experience, etc.). Inclusion is the building of a collaborative environment that promotes the participation and appreciation of all team members.

Bring Honesty to the Table

Be open, honest, and clear about the effect of the lack of diversity amongst the team. If you can bring more people into the conversation to share their own experiences, all the better! Just like you need to be able to point out the positive effects of a diverse workforce, you need to be able to point out where the lack of such is hurting the company and its employees. If you’ve heard whisperings from teammates or from customers you interact with commenting on the lack of diversity, this is the time to bring it up.

There is a chance that this conversation gets heated or you may be asked questions that seem irrelevant or, at worst, harmful. By being honest, you are clearing the path for the conversation to be more productive each time it is had. You’re doing the hard work now so that it gets easier in the future.

Offer to Take the Lead

Want to make sure that the conversation turns into action? Be the one who offers to head up the initiative! Be ready with the next step to take after this first conversation, put together a list of consultants that your company could work with to help get started, or have a plan mapped out that you can share in the opening conversation. By being clear that actionable steps need to be taken and checking in on progress frequently, you’ll make it clear that this isn’t just an initiative to stick on a flyer to attract candidates, it’s a fundamental change to the way that hiring and work happens.

Have you started the conversation about diversity and inclusion? What was your experience? What tips do you have for other recruiters? Let us know on Twitter!

Further reading:
Starting A Conversation About Diversity And Inclusion In The Workplace

5 Tactics to Get Hiring Managers on Board with Diversity

How to Start a Conversation With Your Boss About Increasing Workplace Diversity