diverse candidates
Greater workforce diversity is linked to enhanced creativity and innovation and greater financial returns. It is no wonder companies want to increase the diversity of their teams. Ensuring that your hiring process is more inclusive and equitable not only allows you to attract a greater diversity of candidates but also improves candidate experience as well as your company’s reputation, ratings, and, ultimately, profitability. Based upon our experiences aligning hiring process to diversity, equity and inclusion best practices, the following are our top 5 pieces of advice to recruit more diverse candidates.
1. Make Your Job Postings More Inclusive

Here are a few prime examples:

A. Minimize your required qualifications. If you want to attract a wide variety of candidates, determine the absolutely necessary educational and work experiences, and leave the rest for the preferred qualifications; focus on the needed skills, rather than perpetuating the idea that less traditional backgrounds could not have led to the development of those skills. Though the exact numbers are up for debate, multiple studies have shown that, compared to men, women apply for fewer roles for which they do not meet all required qualifications. Though it may take more time upfront to review more applications, having a larger candidate pool with a variety of backgrounds will be worth the greater investment.

B. Use gender-inclusive language. Rather than reinforcing the man-woman gender binary by saying, “The successful candidate will utilize his/her…” “He/she will be responsible for…” use “they/them/their.” You want your job description to include candidates who identify outside of the gender binary and to show all readers who see your job description as a reflection of your company that your culture is intentional and inclusive.

C. State the salary. Most jobseekers, especially those who belong to Gen-Z, report being less likely to apply for a job when it does not list the salary (Business Insider). As part of the growing pay transparency movement, listing an equitable salary can also positively impact the productivity of your current employees (Harvard Business Review).

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2. Utilize Employee/Business Resource Groups (ERGs/BRGs) for Candidate Referrals
ERGs/BRGs are made up of leaders dedicated to improving the experience of their affinity group at your company. Chances are they are well-connected to others in their community outside of your company. Creating an employee referral system specifically for ERGs/BRGs can further incentivize those leaders to reach out to their personal networks and strengthen the diversity of your candidate pools. 2022 Gallup research showed that employees who have a best friend at work are significantly more likely to get more done in less time, innovate and share ideas, and, among other benefits, engage customers and internal partners. Hiring the friends of your ERG/BRG members can also be a powerful retention strategy.
3. Provide Interviewers with Structured Interview Questions and Evaluation Rubrics
Many interviewers pride themselves on making candidates feel comfortable during their interviews by making the interview, “more like a conversation.” While this may sound appealing, the issue arises when interviewers are inconsistent in the questions and therefore the overall experience they give each candidate. The affinity bias – the tendency to favor people who are similar to us – is already at play in the inevitably flawed human interviewing process; if conversation is driven by the personal compatibility of interviewer and interviewee, and the interviewer continues to develop the next questions on the fly, the issue is exacerbated as the interview goes on. You can still make the interview experience more comfortable for each candidate by wording questions in simpler terms, building rapport prior to asking the formal questions, using candidates’ names when you address them (after you have confirmed that you are pronouncing each name correctly), and using a friendly tone of voice.
On the same note, it is essential to provide your interviewers with standard evaluation rubrics. When we are left to our own biases, we may come to conclusions of others such as, “They seemed more polished,” or, “I can’t see them being able to make tough decisions under pressure.” Providing interviewers with guidelines will lead to more evidence-based, fair decisions. Rubrics should break down qualifications into distinct categories and ask interviewers to rate each candidate’s demonstration of each qualification on a clear scale, providing comments with concrete evidence rather than subjective opinions.
4. Follow Up with Candidates Who Do Not Move Forward

If candidates do not move forward in a given search, they could still be successful candidates for different positions at your company or even for that same position when it reopens years or months later. Every interaction you have with a candidate contributes to your company’s brand and reputation. Taking the extra time to follow up with and thank jobseekers who do not move forward can reduce their uncertainty and help them feel seen, which may make them less likely to leave negative interview experience reviews, and more likely to leave positive reviews, on websites like Glassdoor. They may also refer friends to apply for your open positions.

5. Work With a DEI Consultant
With the above tips being just some of the strategies to advance DEI in hiring, your company may want to work with a DEI consultant. Consultant(s) can help you develop/refine, implement, track, and monitor your hiring strategy, revamp your job postings, reach out to their personal networks for help with recruitment, and more. At Cockerham & Associates, our consultants help clients assess their situation, identify the root issues to ensure solutions are designed to solve the right problems, and help implement real, sustainable policy and culture change.