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Businesses in the top quartile for ethnic diversity were found to be 36.0% more likely to financially outperform their less diverse competitors, according to a 2019 McKinsey report. Diversity and inclusion (D&I) programs have been proliferating in recent years in response to a growing catalog of financial and social benefits. Businesses that create diverse and inclusive work environments are able to achieve substantial competitive advantages, including enhanced innovation and greater understanding of customer demographics. As the United States becomes more diverse, businesses will continue to benefit from hiring and retaining a broad array of employees with varied backgrounds, perspectives and experiences to better develop products and services to serve all people.

In a survey conducted by Forbes Insights of more than 300 senior executives, respondents indicated that recruitment of diverse employees and the retention of diverse talent were among their businesses’ top D&I priorities. ProcurementIQ has compiled a list of the most effective recruiting, development and retention strategies to enhance your company’s D&I program.

1. Audit current hiring and human resources strategies

Businesses should begin by examining their existing hiring practices and recruitment data. Which demographics are least represented within the business? Why? At which stage of the hiring or talent management process (e.g. application, candidate review, interviews, shortlists, promotions) are diverse candidates being left behind? Answering these questions will allow a business to formulate a successful strategy based on data rather than assumption.

2. Create metrics for evaluating a successful D&I hiring strategy – and share them!

Businesses should determine what the ideal outcome of the program looks like and set specific and measurable goals to get there. Goals may include improving diverse hiring and promotion rates, reducing turnover among underrepresented groups and adjusting compensation levels to reflect parity across like positions. In addition to setting metrics, it’s important that they are shared organization-wide and that all staff and executives feel empowered and encouraged to act on them.

3. Ensure that job openings are accessible to diverse audiences

According to Linkedin’s 2018 Global Recruiting Trends report, the biggest barrier to improving company diversity is finding diverse candidates to interview. Businesses can go about improving the number of diverse applicants in many ways:

  • Ensure that there is visual representation of underrepresented groups on company websites and job portals to help foster a sense of belonging, increasing the likelihood of candidates applying.
  • Hiring managers should ensure that job postings clearly reflect their organization’s needs. Job descriptions should portray the job qualifications that are most necessary and relevant to the position, and should clarify when skills constitute a “nice-to-have” rather than a hard requirement.
    • A Hewlett Packard internal report found that women tend to apply for a new job only when they meet 100.0% of the listed criteria, whereas men typically apply when they meet about 60.0% of the criteria.
  • Companies should work with recruiters to post job advertisements to channels that are commonly accessed by underrepresented groups. Businesses can also attend job fairs or hold other recruiting events in areas and at schools that typically cater to more diverse groups.

4. Use diverse hiring teams

Businesses should ensure that interview teams are made up of diverse people and viewpoints. Interview panels should be balanced and allow for varying experiences and discussions. Overly homogenous hiring teams may have more trouble recognizing the value of different candidate experiences. To help promote equality in hiring, businesses should provide diversity education and training, such as unconscious bias training, to all employees.

5. Invest in training and development for underrepresented groups

Hiring for diversity alone isn’t enough. Successful D&I initiatives also cultivate talent from within to boost diverse representation all the way up the company ladder. Businesses should ensure fair representation among all demographics when choosing participants for leadership and development programs. Not only do these programs enhance necessary skills for career advancement of women, people of color and other underrepresented groups, diversity within these programs also benefits the programs themselves by providing a platform for new and fresh perspectives.

6. Offer employee resources to support underrepresented groups

Retention is made easier when employee diversity is respected and celebrated in the workplace. There are many small modifications businesses can make to become more inclusive of all employees:

  • Developing employee networks such as support groups can foster a sense of community among underrepresented groups.
  • Recognizing and providing flexible time off for a wide range of religious holidays shows that the business cares about cultural diversity.
  • Providing flexible family leave can help to provide a welcome environment and promote retention of employees starting families or with young children. These policies especially assist women, who disproportionately experience difficulty maintaining upward career mobility when entering parenthood.

Using these strategies, companies can better support their valuable human capital while continuing to build upon the knowledge and innovation offered by diverse groups of staff and executives. Businesses may also wish to expand upon other aspects of their D&I programs, such as enhancing supplier diversity and community-focused corporate social responsibility initiatives. See ProcurementIQ’s Workplace Diversity: 6 Steps to Supplier Diversity and Developing an Inclusive Approach to Corporate Social Responsibility for more resources and strategies.


By: Michelle Hovanetz

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