Everyone Welcome? 4 Ways to Improve your Diversity Hiring

Imagine this: Your neighbourhood throws a street party every year and only half the street shows up. This year it’s your turn as organizer, and your goal is to host the best bash yet, with everyone on the street joining in. Recently, new people have moved onto the street, so rather than simply drop invitations in mailboxes, you decide to knock on doors and deliver them by hand.

At the first house, the neighbour you introduce yourself to says he’d love to come, but he’s recovering from knee surgery and can’t make it up the steep hill at your end of the street with his walker. “No problem,” you say, “I’ll give you a lift over in my car.”

At another house a mother with young kids seems excited to attend, but when she hears the party starts after lunch she says her family won’t be able to make it because the kids will be having their afternoon nap. “The party will be going on for hours,” you say, “Just come over whenever they wake up.” She confirms that they will be there and volunteers to have her kids serve lemonade.

Further down the street the man who opens the door speaks limited English. You break out your best charade skills and before long he’s not only accepted the invitation, but offered to roll over his barbecue and help grill up dinner.

Your street party has the best attendance ever and is a huge hit because you made sure everyone on your street was invited in a way that made them feel welcome.

This story isn’t just about winning the title of “World’s Best Host.” To build the very best team for your company you need a recruitment strategy that ensures EVERY qualified candidate feels like they’re truly welcome at the party.

Sometimes, unintentional actions can create mixed messages that send a not-so-welcoming signal, so here are four things you can start doing today if you want to ensure you’re communicating to ALL candidates in a way that will encourage them to apply.

 

1.    Read Your Job Ad Through a Different Lens
Think of your job ad as the invitation to your party. Removing complex language, jargon, and acronyms doesn’t just remove barriers for English-as-a-second-language candidates, it helps everyone who reads it get a better sense of what to expect and why they should apply.

Another important consideration is to use gender neutral language, or at least to avoid overtly masculine words. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology revealed that women refrain from applying to jobs with descriptions that use masculine words. The study found that “women deterred from masculinely worded jobs, finding them less appealing and interesting, compared with the same types of jobs advertised with feminine wording” because of perceptions of belongingness, not perceived skill.

You can use the free tool Gender Decoder for Job Ads to identify if your posting is masculine- or feminine-coded. Then consider replacing those words with gender neutral choices.

 

2.    Rethink Minimum Qualifications
Imagine getting an invitation to an event with a list of what to bring that, in addition to must-have items like bug spray and sunscreen, included things like a sense of humour, three to five interesting conversation starters, a party game, an appetizer that demonstrates your prowess in the kitchen, and badges to document your current swimming ability. Does that sound like an event you’re going to clear your calendar for?

When writing your job ad, include the true, must-have qualifications for the job, instead of a laundry list of nice-to-have skills and abilities. Spend some time getting really clear about those must-have qualifications too. Is an MBA absolutely required, or could someone who has a college diploma but also years of successful applied experience in the field be just as effective? Include the term “or equivalent,” where there is some flexibility, to increase the size of the audience who see themselves as eligible.

 

3.    Include a Diversity and Inclusion Statement
Including a diversity statement in your job ad is that knock on the door that says, “If you think you’d be a great addition to our party, we want to make you feel welcome.” Unfortunately, many diversity statements are written in a way that makes them seem more like a “check-the-box” task from the legal department, rather than a sincere message.

If you don’t have a diversity statement for your company, start by looking at statements from companies that you respect and admire. If you already have a diversity statement, set a reminder in your calendar to review it once a year with your team to ensure it really captures what your company is trying to do in an authentic way.

We recently gave our Fitzii diversity and inclusion statement a refresh. Here’s how it evolved:

Former Fitzii Diversity and Inclusion Statement

We value diversity and inclusion and encourage all qualified people to apply. If we can make this easier through accommodation in the recruitment process, please contact us with the “Help” button in the application.

New Fitzii Diversity and Inclusion Statement

We strive to build a team that reflects the diversity of the community we work in and encourage applications from traditionally underrepresented groups such as women, visible minorities, Indigenous peoples, people identifying as LGBTQ2SI, veterans, and people with disabilities.  If we can make this easier through accommodation in the recruitment process, please contact us using the “Help” button.

 

4.    Add Some Show to Your Tell
When potential candidates head to your website’s Career Page or About section, think of it as a signal that their RSVP status to the invitation of your job ad is standing at a firm “maybe”. Before they say yes and apply, they want to get a better sense of what the party is going to be like if they choose to attend.

While your diversity statement tells them that they will be welcome, using photography on your website that illustrates your commitment to diversity sends an even stronger message. Use real pictures of employees, and remember that diversity isn’t just based on skin colour. Show that your team includes people of different ages, genders and physical abilities too.

 

At the end of the day, diverse teams are simply smarter and more innovative. More than ever before, companies are living in a deeply connected, global world, and there is an incredibly rich pool of talent from which to draw. By enriching your company with different ages, backgrounds, genders, races, and nationalities, you will make your organization more successful, whatever your goals may be.

Would you like some help to ensure your company is recruiting in an inclusive way to attract a broader selection of the best candidates? Contact us today and let us help you find the best candidates for your next job opening.

Ron is a Hiring Advisor on Fitzii’s Hiring Success team.

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