Sourcing and including diverse candidates in all hires and promotion considerations is a vitally important way to make sure your team comprises the highest-quality talent. If any group is left out in talent selection — for whatever reason — an organization is short-changing itself. To get the best talent possible, you need the widest and deepest pool of candidates possible.
Ensuring that you have diverse candidates for new hires and promotions may require a little more work at first, but it quickly becomes part of your everyday talent sourcing processes and the branding of your organization.
Sadly, some companies make excuses such as “we just didn’t get any diverse candidates applying for the job” or “our industry is made up mostly of white men, so that’s who we hire.” This is unconscious bias that ultimately hurts an organization. In addition to missing out on quality candidates, an organization also misses out on new and beneficial ideas, viewpoints, and solutions that you can only get from a diverse team. Organizational efforts to achieve diversity, equity and inclusion can improve productivity and outcomes.
There are many simple actions to help attract more diverse candidates, such as including a statement of commitment to diversity in every job ad, so that all people skimming a job board can see this might be a place where they feel comfortable working. This can be something as simple as: “We encourage minority and female applicants to apply.” Everybody’s ads say they are an equal opportunity employer that does not discriminate, but why not be more assertive? State clearly that you want diverse candidates to apply.
You also need to make sure to get your postings in front of the eyes of people you want to apply. There are more than 100 diversity job boards, along with third-party service providers who will make sure your ads get in the optimal places for visibility of your organization. Job ads aren’t the only thing candidates see about an organization. Websites, press releases and other forms of communication and branding can include your DEI vision. Most important may be for the executive team to speak out in the community and the marketplace on their organization’s commitment to diversity.
Talking about DEI is important, and so is action. Active support and sponsorship of diversity events in the community — and engaging your workforce in these efforts — are critical. It’s also important to take part in marketplace efforts, such as joining the growing variety of diversity business groups and aligning with investor indices that promote diversity. Internal programs to support and celebrate diversity at your organization are necessary. Diverse people will hear about your organization and want to work for you.
Transparency is important for the same reason. At AMN Healthcare we post our diversity metrics on our website every quarter, and we are very open about our progress on the path to DEI. Our action strategies for DEI are based on our metrics, and we change those strategies if we are not making enough measurable progress.
One important part of DEI programs is unconscious bias training. This can help eliminate unseen roadblocks to hiring diverse candidates by deconstructing the stereotypical excuses that may be holding back an organization from embracing diverse talent sourcing. Unconscious bias affects everybody, so programs to address it are never punitive but instead open up deeper understanding of ourselves.
The most direct DEI action is to require diversity on candidate slates for all roles. Recruiters should be held accountable for finding and reaching out to diverse candidates, which takes a little more work but is entirely doable. There are lots of diversity groups for recruiters, many avenues for researching diverse candidates and simple strategies for tracking diverse candidates over time. These should become part of the responsibilities and objectives for each recruiter.
If an organization is not getting diverse job candidates, it’s not making it a priority. Organizational leadership needs to be held responsible for advancing DEI and for moving diversity metrics in the right direction.
Without decisive efforts, unconscious bias can result in diverse groups being left out of talent sourcing. When that happens, quality is compromised because the candidate pool is limited and the diversity of ideas, viewpoints and solutions necessary for progress and innovation is lost.