Diversity and Inclusion in Sourcing & Recruitment [Best Practices]


“Smart teams will do amazing things, but truly diverse teams will do impossible things.” These are the words of Claudia Brind-Woody, the Vice President and Managing Director of intellectual property and Co-Chair for the Global LGBT Council at IBM.

We couldn’t agree more with her belief, and within this article, we want to discuss how to strengthen your team with more diverse candidates to make impossible things happen.

From this post, you will learn:

  • How diverse teams outperform homogeneous teams.
  • How to attract diverse candidates and make your sourcing, screening, and shortlisting process more inclusive.
  • Where exactly you could focus your efforts on inclusivity when looking for new candidates.

Why You Should Strive for Diverse and Inclusive Teams

Diversity and inclusion in the workspace are not a matter of political correctness or showy beneficence. It’s an incredible value for the company, and businesses should appreciate the opportunities opened up by employees and leaders from diverse backgrounds. And these are not some lush words.

Let’s look at some stats. The first numbers come from McKinsey’s report on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) (by the way, they have already invested $20M in research on DE&I): 

  • Companies with the strongest gender diversity on executive teams are 25% more likely to have very high profitability than companies with homogenous executive teams;
  • Organizations with the strongest ethnic diversity on executive teams are 36% more likely to have very high profitability;
  • The greater the representation, the higher the chances for outstanding results: the most gender-diverse companies are 48% more likely to prosper.

And here are some more numbers:

Ok, enough with the stats, let’s get down to the business: what you should do to strengthen your team with diverse players. 

How to Attract Applicants with Diverse Background

Before you source with diversity in mind, ‌do some preparation work. 

Preparation Step 1. Set diversity recruitment strategy goals

At the very start, sit down with your leader’s board and identify the top three to five things your company would like to achieve with the new diversity recruiting strategy. You might come to something like “Increase diversity in every department and at every level of our company to better reflect our customer base and invent decisions most suitable for them” or something more granular like “Increase multicultural representation in the marketing department for better results on foreign markets.”

Make sure company leaders support not just the concept of diversity and inclusion but will try fresh approaches and invest in diversity recruiting initiatives. You need to explain how your diversity recruitment strategy goals align with overall business goals. 

Preparation Step 2. Think of where you already are and where you want to be

Now, it’s time to ‌analyze who is already on your team. Create gender, age, ethnicity, and other charts to help you see the actual picture. Think of minorities that may matter to your company, such as working mums, LGBTQIA+, people with mental or physical health issues, etc.

You may ask your current employees to fill out anonymous questionnaires to be sure that your analysis is based on real-life data and not your presumptions. If you see a quite homogeneous picture, it’s a clear sign you need to focus more effort on diverse and inclusive recruitment.

Think of where you want to be according to your strategic goals. Do you see more women in tech positions or have older coworkers on your team? Maybe you see your company as really multicultural? However, now you can compare your perfect case scenario with what you have and see where you should focus your efforts. 

Depending on your business, you may need some particularly underrepresented groups. For example, you may enhance your QA team by hiring candidates with disabilities for accessibility testing. Think about who your business needs and where their differences can thrive. 

Preparation Step 3. Prepare yourself and your colleagues to work in a more diverse and inclusive environment 

Jumping into an inclusive culture may be a challenge for some teams. Here are some ideas that may help:

  • Work on reducing unconscious bias in your team (and yourself). According to Robert Walters’s whitepaper Diversity and Inclusion in Recruitment,  81% of employers confessed that their implicit bias might affect their decisions, potentially missing out on best-fit professionals. Sadly, 42% do nothing about it and don’t implement any strategies to reduce bias during recruiting. 

“Many conversations about diversity and inclusion do not happen in the boardroom because people are embarrassed at using unfamiliar words or afraid of saying the wrong thing — yet this is the very place we need to be talking about it,” — says Inga Beale, the former CEO of Lloyd’s of London. Make a difference: start with anti-bias training and workshops at every company level. The organization should develop a zero-tolerance policy for any kind of discrimination. 

  • Review your workplace policies. Try to look at your policies from different perspectives (or, even better, consult people from diverse backgrounds). Where could you be more supportive for minority groups? This could be flexible working hours for parents growing up children, special support during the gender transition, day-offs during holidays important for a specific culture, etc. 
  • Start developing an employer brand that features diversity and inclusion. First, focus on internal activities. For example, you may celebrate events that matter to underrepresented groups: mental health awareness week, pride month, and ethnic holidays. Later, you may ask your employees to share their stories on your website, social media, etc. 

Be transparent and share how far you already are in creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. Here are some examples for your inspiration: 

Now, let’s move to the recruiting process. We will walk you through every stage, from sourcing to hiring.

More Diversity and Inclusivity in Candidate Sourcing

Help diverse candidates find your company

When you focus your recruitment activities on the same channels, you will find candidates with the same background. Try looking for alternative platforms where you can find candidates from underrepresented groups. 

Think of reaching out to communities like Women in TechOut in TechMotherCodes, and Latinas in Computing. You might also advertise your job offers using precise demographic targeting on social media. Just think of where your target candidates are and be imaginative. 

Recommended postDiversity search: A Step by Step Guide to Find Female Engineers

Make your website accessible

At the European Union level, only 50.6% of adults with disabilities are employed; and in the United States — just 19.1%. There are many reasons for this, but one is difficulty accessing information.

You should also ensure your website (or at least the Careers page) is accessible for candidates with disabilities. Here are some recommendations:

  • Use alt text that describes the contents of images.
  • Use a color scheme with enough contrast.
  • Audio and video files should have transcripts and closed captions.
  • The website should support keyboard accessibility. This means you can navigate the website without using the mouse or touchpad.

Use inclusive language in job descriptions and on your Careers landing page

Every single word matters. Depending on your job description’s wording, you may attract or scare away underrepresented candidates. Here are some ideas to start with:

  • Don’t use pronouns he or she in job descriptions. You will always play safe by using the pronoun you. Instead: “We are looking for a designer. He will develop…” use “We are looking for a designer. You will develop…” The such appeal addresses any gender, including non-binary. 
  • Avoid aggressive language. Words like competitiverockstarself-confidentpowerful, etc., may feel masculine and subconsciously scare off female applicants. 
  • Avoid language that might exclude candidates with disabilities. Use communicate instead of talkmove instead of walkperceive information instead of reading or hearing
  • Avoid unnecessary jargon. If you want to attract people who are different from who you already have, don’t confuse them with the wording they don’t understand. When you aim to recruit people from other industries, you may ask your friends outside your company to see if they understand the job description.

A good idea would be to use an AI tool to check your content for inclusivity, from job descriptions and ads to Career landing pages on your website and recruiter’s letters. Tools like Textio identify biased language and suggest improvements for a more inclusive employer branding.

You may even write job descriptions with specific demographics in mind. Don’t be afraid of letting your target applicants know that you’re looking for them and explain why your company would make a perfect match.

Encourage your employees to refer to their diverse communities

Use the power of your current diverse employee network. That will boost your diversity program and show your team members that you value their backgrounds. 

Initiatively reach out to underrepresented candidates

People from underprivileged groups often hesitate to be proactive when finding jobs and don’t believe they can be valued. Candidates who have already experienced several rejections from biased employers may just give up and don’t apply for promising jobs. They are often too hard on themselves to make the first step, and you should show sincere interest and respect and create a safe space for further communication.

Do you want to explore more D&I strategies? Read our partner’s post about novel strategies for your next D&I recruiting program.

More Diversity and Inclusivity in Screening, Shortlisting, and Hiring

​​Review the factors that you screen for

Think of what you are looking for in your candidates and make sure it isn’t based on your bias. Does your candidate need to be from a top school? Do only young people fit in your company? Why can a candidate with a neurological diagnosis not be as good as other professionals? Try to eliminate all the factors that have nothing to do with skills that directly matter for this particular job.

Use AI for resume screening

After you list important factors, try using AI for resume screening. This will save you time but, even more importantly, provide an unbiased look at a candidate’s resume. Try tools from Sniper AIIdealCVVIZ, or XOR.

Try out the Blind CV method

Remove information like name, age, gender, photo, and school from the CV to minimize the impact of unconscious bias and focus only on the applicant’s skills, qualifications, and experience. AI tools may help you with this as well.

Use a structured interview process

All candidates should undergo the same interview process regardless of their background. As a recruiter, you might unconsciously adjust the procedure because of some bias, and, as a result, you won’t get to know who the candidate is. 

Create a list of questions you want to ask every candidate regardless of their background and decide how you will score candidates’ answers. Make evidence-based decisions and don’t feel or act like knowing everything about the person by placing them into some cliched group.

Recommended post: Talent Mapping: How to Build a Strong Sourcing Strategy

Prepare for an inclusive interview

Don’t scare away your candidates by (even unwillingly) using biased language or showing some other kind of disrespect or detachment. As we have already mentioned, training and workshops can help. 

Before interviews with representatives from communities, you don’t have many experiences with, you can make some extra preparation: visit communities’ websites to dive into the right language, understand their struggles in their everyday lives, and feel their flow. 

If you have a candidate with disabilities, ensure your interview process is accessible and comfortable for them.

Invite a diverse team to the interview 

Diverse teams perform better, and the interviewing process is no exception. Involve people who have different gender, race, age, etc., to ensure balance. This will give more perspectives on the candidate and make the applicants feel more confident by seeing people like them in the room. 

A survey showed that 63% of candidates wouldn’t accept a job from a company if no employees from minority groups took part in the interview process.

Know the two in the pool effect — and use it

According to a Harvard Business Review study, when the final candidate pool has only one candidate from a minority group, they have nearly no chance of hiring. If at least two minority candidates are in the final pool, the chances of hiring one of them are 194 times greater. This is the so-called the two in the pool effect

Here’s what it looks like for female and male candidates:

What does this mean for you as a recruiter who strives for a more diverse team? You should seed your talent pipelines with diverse candidates and give at least several of them a chance to get to the final pool.

Final Thoughts: Make Your Diverse Team Bloom

Hiring diverse candidates is not enough. It’s all about how you handle this multifarious team. However, even the more diverse companies may still lack inclusion. McKinsey’s report states that the overall sentiment on inclusion in companies is only 29% positive and 61% negative. This means there is a lot of work for HR departments on creating a safe and equal workspace. As Claudia Lavergne Brind-Woody from IBM says, “Inclusivity means not ‘just we’re allowed to be there,’ but we are valued.” 

An inclusive workplace develops a culture that acknowledges the differences between employees and where everyone feels accepted and appreciated for who they are. Here are some ideas about how you can support this culture. 

  • Have a transparent salary policy. Your employees should be 100% confident that they get paid fair and equal regardless of their backgrounds.
  • Initiate resource groups for employees who need extra support from colleagues with similar backgrounds. For example, JLL has at least nine such groups: Asian Business Professionals Network, Building Pride Business Network, Parent and Caregivers Experience, etc. 
  • Be open and listen to your team. Ask your colleagues how they feel, and listen to their ideas on making the workspace more inclusive. Perhaps you haven’t thought about some problems they face in their everyday working routine.
  • Support individuality. Don’t train employees to “fit” into some faceless corporate norms. Mixed teams can contribute their full potential only if they are free to keep every participant’s unlikeliness.
  • Celebrate diversity. Encourage people to share their backgrounds: create shared multicultural holiday calendars, hold events where colleagues can talk about their community, and showcase their culture. 
Article by:
Senior Recruitment Specialist at Matchr
Senior Recruitment Specialist at Matchr
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