3 ways to improve diversity hiring now

I was on a Fortune 250 company’s website recently and clicked over to its careers page. I’m always curious to see what the company’s career page looks like and how it compares with the rest of the site regarding diversity and DEI. When it loaded, I was presented with multiple pictures depicting a “typical” workday at the company. The smiling faces in those pictures were as diverse as an ad for United Colors of Benetton. The visuals were paired nicely with plenty of well-written copy about the various employee resource groups and other inclusion efforts. It all looked and felt quite positive.

Then I started to dig a little deeper like any good candidate should and brought up the page with the senior leadership team. This page also had plenty of pictures, but this time it looked like a conservative branch of government: older and caucasian.

Curiosity piqued, I decided to check out a few other companies and came to find that this dichotomy wasn’t unique. What an incredible message for your DEI candidates. Welcome to our organization — just don’t hit your head too hard on the glass ceiling.

In 2004, I took the AIRS Certified Diversity Recruiter course. Many years later, diversity recruiting is still an issue and we continue to have the same conversations. We need to drastically change the way we hire diverse populations that goes beyond networking and branding.

Diversity is an issue that spans candidate attraction, selection, onboarding, inclusion, and more. This article focuses on the selection process and proposes three key changes the talent acquisition team can make to positively impact diversity hiring.

Let’s start with some facts about diversity hiring:

Lack of diversity is costing companies millions
It’s been well documented that a diverse workforce leads to a better bottom line for companies. In an article Why Diversity Matters, McKinsey reports that there is a linear relationship between racial and ethnic diversity and better financial performance: For every 10 percent increase in racial and ethnic diversity on the senior-executive team, earnings before interest and taxes rise 0.8 percent.

Using information from Datahub.io, the median EBITDA for the S&P 500 is $1.7 billion. That means a small 10 percent increase in the diversity of the senior-executive team for an average S&P 500 company would drive nearly $170 million to the bottom line.

Diversity unemployment is higher
Even with unemployment at historically low levels, diverse populations have significantly higher unemployment rates. Recently published BLS Data looking at the unemployment numbers for both males and females over the age of 25 reports that the national unemployment rate is 3.2 percent.

That same data shows that White and Asian people have significantly lower unemployment rates than the national average. Caucasians have an unemployment rate 12.5 percent better than the national unemployment rate of 3.2 percent, and Asians are more than 21 percent better.

Looking at the same demographics for African American and Latino people, African Americans over age 25 have an unemployment rate that is a staggering 81 percent higher than the national unemployment rate, and Latinos have a rate that is 22 percent higher.

Bias exists
Your stakeholders are biased. I didn’t use the word unconscious by design. While unconscious bias is an issue, it’s only one of the biases influencing your selection process. If you’d like to understand more about bias, much has been written about the topic and a simple Google search will provide you with enough information to write a thesis.

Speaking with talent acquisition leaders I have relationships with, they agree that without strict direction, a hiring manager is likely to hire using the following hierarchy in the selection process:
– The person with the background that most closely resembles their own.
– The person who looks the most like the hiring manager in the mirror.
– In the absence of either of those options, the prettiest person who walks in the room will be the candidate to get the offer.

Understanding that both conscious (explicit) and unconscious (implicit) bias is driving that type of behavior is a key factor in creating a solution. When combined with the fact that diverse populations have higher unemployment rates and diversity is good for the bottom line, we need to make some drastic changes to improve our outcomes.

3 ways to improve diversity, DEI hiring

• Hold recruiters accountable for a diverse slate. Recruiters need to be held accountable for providing a diverse slate of candidates to the hiring team. Using demographics based on job category and geography (readily available through tools like TalentNeuron), each recruiter needs to be responsible for providing a slate of candidates that is reflective of the external population. Success will be achieved when the recruiter’s slate is at least a 67 percent match to the demographics of the external population.

At the end of the year, if the recruiter does not meet this standard on 75 percent of all slates submitted, annual bonuses and increases should be at stake.

• Blind resumes. Change your submittal process to the hiring manager. Strip away everything on the resume except for previous experience, and make your new initial internal submission to the hiring team a profile that only includes a candidate ID and the experience portion of the resume. No names. No education. No affiliations.

For most companies and roles, the name and contact information on the internal submittal is irrelevant. The same holds true for education. While most positions have some sort of education requirement, it can be assessed by the recruiting team and is not necessary on the initial internal submission. Once a hiring manager has decided on an interview slate, then the full resume can be shared.

This process is not perfect and must be paired with the consistent use of an interview guide. Consistently using an interview guide will establish better comparisons in the debrief session and help combat bias and improve DEI hiring. There is additional work associated with this step for your recruiting team, because the majority of applicant tracking systems do not have the functionality to automate this step.

• Hold hiring managers accountable for a diverse team. The last change is the most provocative and most likely the hardest to implement. Like the recruiting team, a hiring manager’s bonus should be at stake if their team is not diverse. In addition, I propose challenging your leadership team on their commitment to diversity by taking the NFL’s Rooney Rule one step further.

No offers will be generated or extended for departments that do not meet the standard of a 67 percent match to the demographics of the external talent pool. Departments not meeting the diversity standard will be required to include the HRVP and a senior operational leader in the selection process in order to present an offer.

If the first two steps are not enough to drive diversity hiring into the organization, then we must increase the oversight of our departments that are out of scope.

The numbers don’t lie. DEI and diversity is an issue and it’s hurting your bottom line. Making these three changes to the selection process could have a dramatic affect on diversity hiring at your company.

John Ricciardi has 25 years of expertise in talent acquisition. As the Founder and Managing Partner of Afton Consulting Group, he provides executive search for the pharmaceutical & biotech industries, as well as providing advisory services and crafting talent strategies for his clients. Mr. Ricciardi’s career has taken him from executive search to global leadership roles with some of the world’s largest companies. When he’s not solving the world’s recruiting problems, you can probably find him on the ski slopes, trying to keep up with his kids. Visit Afton Consulting Group to learn more.

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