7 Proactive Ways to Attract and Hire Diverse Candidates in 2022

attract and hire diverse candidates

Most of us in talent acquisition would agree that diverse candidates help our organizations innovate and achieve better business outcomes. You needn’t read multiple studies or research too deeply to understand the benefits of a diverse workforce—simply look at some of the world’s largest organizations that emphasize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as part of their success. 

And yet, half the battle in building a diverse company is attracting and hiring diverse talent; our own studies, for example, have found 44% of companies find it difficult to prioritize DEI among other business objectives. 

So, how do you attract and hire diverse candidates as you grow? There are 7 proactive tactics you can use, and we’ll break them down for you: 

  • Start with creating a DEI tech stack 
  • Create clear, inclusive, and high-intent job postings
  • Encourage referrals from diverse employees
  • Leverage DEI policies when recruiting
  • Advertise jobs in diverse networking groups and job boards
  • Include diverse stakeholders in the recruiting process
  • Give job applicants insight into your company culture

While this list of tactics isn’t exhaustive, these are proactive ways in which you can improve your diversity recruiting efforts today and as your company grows. Let’s dive in!

Build a DEI tech stack that helps de-bias your hiring process

Regardless of how quickly your company grows, it’s inevitable that your hiring team will want to leverage new tools and tech that help them not only meet their hiring goals but also support your company’s DEI initiatives. 

That’s where your DEI tech stack comes in. 

Simply put, a DEI tech stack is a collection of different technologies or tools your team uses to achieve a cohesive purpose or goal—in this case, attracting and hiring diverse candidates. 

A strong DEI tech stack isn’t created overnight, especially as your recruitment needs grow and you scale your talent acquisition pipeline. Knowing what your team’s recruitment needs are, and your TA priorities will inform your approach to choosing the right tech to add to your stack and further your DEI efforts.

To ensure you’re choosing the right tools, and not simply adding more tools, consider evaluating the necessary additions to your DEI tech stack against the following criteria:

  • Fair, equitable, and unbiased
  • Data and insights-focused
  • Alignment with your recruiting strategy
  • Continuity and longevity post-hire

We highlight equity and bias here, specifically, because the purpose of your DEI tech stack should ultimately be to help your recruiting team de-bias your hiring practices and process. For example, you can collect tools and tech that help with removing the bias from interviews or ones that help you optimize your job ads for inclusivity. 

We break down everything you need to know about building your own DEI tech stack in our ultimate guide, which you can read here

how to build a dei tech stack

Create clear, inclusive, and high-intent job postings

When creating job descriptions for new roles, or optimizing roles you already have out in the market, being clear and intentional will help incentivize candidates to apply—but you’ll also want to factor in DEI, as well. 

Writing clear and high-intent job postings isn’t just beneficial for you—it’s also crucial for capturing candidates’ attention. While 72% of managers believe they create effective job descriptions, just 36% of candidates agree. Not only that, but most job seekers will spend a mere 14 seconds deciding whether to apply to a role based on the job description. 

To create high-intent job postings, there are a few tips you can employ: 

  • Forego flowery language in job titles and opt for clarity instead—this helps remove any ambiguity from your job postings when people come across them on social media or job boards. You want it to be as obvious as possible which role you’re hiring for.
  • Ensure you’re writing for humans—this means writing in the first person and eliminating any confusing language or tangents in your job postings. 
  • Avoid the list trap—instead of listing out tasks and skills, focus on outcomes; this way, candidates understand how they’ll impact your business and what they’ll be able to achieve in the role. 
  • Highlight your company’s onboarding plan—many candidates will want to know what they can or should expect post-hire, which means sharing your company’s onboarding plan or program can give them more context as to what life is like as an employee at your company!
  • Be transparent—don’t shy away from including information about work-life balance, compensation, and other information that candidates are likely to ask for in interviews.

However, you’ll also want to ensure those job postings are inclusive of diverse candidates. That means following a few best practices like:

  • Check your job descriptions for biased or discriminatory language and be cognizant of gender coding as well.
  • If your company has an internal mobility plan or process, highlight that in job postings and share relevant links to any public-facing web pages where you document your program. 
  • Focus on highlighting the impact a candidate can have at your company, rather than focusing solely on skills or education. 
  • Drop any jargon, phrases, or language that is technical or industry-specific, to avoid alienating candidates who may not share the same educational or professional backgrounds as you do. 
  • Keep in mind that inclusivity also encompasses disabilities and neurodiversity, and diversity statements you include in your job postings shouldn’t ignore these candidate segments. 

We have an easy guide you can use to create what we at Lever call “impact descriptions,” which makes it easy to create compelling, intentional, and inclusive job descriptions. You can download your copy (which includes a helpful template) below. 

effective job descriptions

Encourage existing employees to share diverse referrals 

One of the best recruiting resources you can leverage to hire diverse candidates is your existing employees.

Most organizations today have ERGs (employee resource groups) as well as internal referral programs which incentivize employees to share job postings or recommend qualified candidates from their own networks. While this isn’t new, it’s easy to forget that your existing team members may have the perfect candidate waiting to make a move to a new role. 

Of course, every referral program is different, however, you can use referrals in more than one way. Let’s say, for instance, that your company just created a new role and your hiring team wants to leverage referrals first to find top candidates: 

  • Share new roles with your internal EGRs 
  • Ask existing employees for diverse referrals 
  • Leverage your and your team’s social networks (like LinkedIn) by using outreach to share open roles with people in your network 
  • Consider opening your referral program to customers who may know diverse candidates interested in joining a new company 

The upside to sourcing using referrals first is that you not only get insights into candidates through your employees, but it can also help you speed up your time-to-hire and time-to-fill by finding the right candidate through someone’s network. 

To help ensure your referral program is fair, though, you may use an external tool or service that can help you create an equitable referral program for your company. For example, Payscale found that traditional referral programs can be biased, as employees are likely to recommend friends or people they want to work with. 

Working with a tool or external program can help to de-biased your referral program, similar to how our partner, Teamable augments self-reported data in order to make it easy to enjoy the fruits of referrals while still retaining a commitment to diversifying your workforce.

Advertise and leverage your DEI policies when recruiting

While it’s no secret that a diverse workforce is beneficial for employees and companies, it’s only recently become common to see organizations share their DEI policies and initiatives in public-facing recruiting content for candidates. 

And yet, 67% of employees consider workplace diversity an important factor when considering employment offers with a new company. Studies have shown that, in some industries (like tech), very few organizations have DEI manifestos in place to share with candidates. 

It should be best practice for organizations to advertise their DEI policies when recruiting. However, if this is something your team is currently working on, there are a few ways you can share your policies or initiatives with candidates:

  • Dedicate a section of your job postings to DEI policies and statements 
  • Share links to ERG and DEI policies you have on your website, in job postings 
  • Include your DEI policies as a link in your email signature, so they’re transparently available in candidate communications
  • Mention your policies on your company’s social media pages, especially on platforms like LinkedIn and any job boards where you can personalize your company’s profiles

Another way to advertise your DEI policies is to use videos featuring different TA and HR team members who can explain what your company is doing to advance DEI and how employees take part in DEI initiatives. 

These videos can be hosted on Career, About, and Policy pages on your website, which you can then link to in job postings. Depending on the job boards you leverage, you may also be able to embed videos directly into your job postings!

pillars of diversity and inclusion

Use niche job boards and networking groups geared towards diverse candidates 

In marketing, there’s this concept whereby the best way to reach customers is to be where they are—meaning, proactively engaging with customers in the places they spend the most time. For recruiters, this concept also applies to diverse candidates. 

And that’s where diverse job boards and networking groups can become a goldmine for TA teams!

When distributing open roles with your organization, you’ll want to get those roles in front of a vast and diverse range of talent. Above and beyond using platforms like LinkedIn to advertise those positions, having alternative outlets through which you can share those roles is critical. 

Your recruitment pipeline may reveal key areas or gaps in which you need to improve or increase representation—but it’s challenging to do that with basic recruiting platforms. 

Instead, harnessing platforms like Jopwell or Elpha allows you to get your open roles in front of more diverse communities of candidates while representing your organization as an inclusive place to work with equitable hiring practices. By leveraging these communities, you’re also attempting to meet candidates where they already are making it easier for diverse talent to find you.

You can also leverage online networking groups and digital communities aimed specifically at diverse candidates. For example, employees may already be part of neurodiversity groups, or you may have people in your LinkedIn network that belong to underrepresented groups (such as those with disabilities) that you can reach out to with new opportunities. 

There’s a wealth of untapped talent that you may miss out on when ignoring these diverse groups and job boards. And, more than that, candidates expect recruiters to be prioritizing DEI and diversity recruiting. 

Include diverse stakeholders in the recruiting process

Attracting and hiring diverse candidates can feel challenging when you consider many candidates are looking to see their experiences reflected in others. It’s important that diverse candidates can see and witness the representation of diverse employees in your company—and including diverse stakeholders in your recruiting process can help do just that. 

Take interviews as an example—if you leverage your job postings to showcase what your interview and onboarding process is like, you can mention various diverse stakeholders who are involved or even highlight them in your outreach communications to candidates. 

At Lever, we use structured hiring to ensure that diverse stakeholders are involved, while also ensuring that the team members candidates interact with from the very start are part of their experience. 

There are a few reasons why having a structured hiring process can help both your recruiting process and efforts to convert diverse candidates into hires: 

  • Structured hiring requires everyone involved in your recruiting process to follow a standardized approach to hiring, which helps eliminate confirmation bias
  • Stakeholders can more fairly assess candidates based on their strengths and qualifications, rather than subjective biases 
  • Certain stages of the hiring process, such as interviewing, are standardized, which makes each interview more intentional as well as equitable for every candidate 

By involving diverse stakeholders in your recruiting process, you’re not only ensuring that diverse candidates see your commitment to DEI but also giving them the opportunity to explore your company culture and the initiatives you work on to progress DEI in your organization. 

structured hiring for recruiters

Give job applicants insight into your company culture

A simple yet effective way of attracting diverse candidates to your company is to leverage your company culture. You likely already use your employer branding to showcase what happens behind the scenes at your organization and what your culture is like, but that’s only one component of a larger process. 

In fact, recruitment marketing encompasses employer branding and is something your hiring team will (hopefully) put to good use to attract diverse talent. 

Recruitment marketing is a set of tactics or methodologies you can use to market your employer brand to candidates. Done well, recruitment marketing builds awareness and visibility around your company culture to help attract top talent. 

To use recruitment marketing to give insight into your company culture, you’ll first want to align your hiring team on your employer brand. That’s because your employer brand encompasses things like: 

  • Employee value proposition
  • Company mission and values statement
  • People and culture 

Once your team is aligned with those key elements, you can focus on how you’ll use them to market your company to candidates. And this is important, because many candidates will inevitably ask about your company culture, diversity initiatives, and what working with your team is like. 

The more transparent you can be about your company culture, the more candidates are likely to be curious about working in your organization. So, your recruitment marketing should focus both on highlighting your culture as well as the DEI initiatives, commitments, and policies that help shape it. 

Discover how top companies attract and hire diverse talent 

In our 2021 State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Report, we surveyed over 500 HR decision-makers and 1,000 employed adults to learn what efforts companies have been taking to increase their DEI efforts, how they’ve been communicated, and the gap between the company’s perspective versus the employee’s perspectives.

Download your free copy to explore how companies are leveraging DEI to attract, hire, and retain diverse talent!