10 Changes For Attracting Diverse Candidates In A Tight Tech Market

Posted on November 17, 2021 by Bailey Crumpton. Tagged: Resources for Entrepreneurs, For Clients

(Updated Feb 2023)

Effort towards creating greater equity in recruiting have certainly increased since 2020, but there is still work to be done. As it’s been proven, diverse teams, meaning people of different backgrounds, sexual orientations, ethnicities, religions, ages, and genders, are ultimately more productive and impactful. Due to having a wider range of experiences, diverse teams can exercise out-of-the-box thinking, or bounce ideas off of one another more effectively. If diversity is so desirable, why does it feel so challenging to achieve? In this post, we’ll explore more actionable ways to attract diverse candidates to your company.

Why Diversity Of Thought Matters For Acceleration & Innovation

We know from ample research that socially diverse groups are more inventive than their homogenous counterparts because they bring a wider range of perspectives, information, and opinions. From this, simply the presence of other group members unlike oneself can push people to consider things from an angle they had never thought about before. If you’re picturing a bustling, ultra-productive collaboration session, one study actually found that we can be more awkward around those different than us, which amplifies the need to diffuse tension, leading to better group problem solving.

It’s not just about ideas and problem solving, either. Diverse teams increase brand credibility and awareness, indicating to consumers that your brand serves all different types of people. However, as diverse as the world is, companies that are not actively seeking and recruiting candidates from a range of backgrounds will unintentionally hire a more homogenous workforce. In a tight technical market that’s highly competitive, like what we are experiencing right now, you can expand your candidate pipeline by coming up with less traditional ideas for securing talent.

10 Ideas For Greater Equity In Recruiting

We’ll start by saying that when it comes to auditing your company culture, website, and job descriptions, there’s always room for improvement. This is an opportunity to discuss with your team how they would make your organization more accessible and enjoyable for everyone that works there. Something as simple as asking, 'did our job description feel welcoming when you were applying for your current role?' can you a long way. Consider what language could be changed or updated to better translate your policies and ideas around diversity within the organization.

You may be surprised to hear feedback that anything from the photos on your website to the language used in a job description can make a huge difference when someone is considering working for your company. It's all about being conscious of what you're putting out there. According to a survey by Ideal.com, 67% of job seekers use diversity as an important factor when considering companies and job offers. The bottom line? The way you present your commitment to diversity matters; for example, regurgitating legal jargon about being an equal opportunity employer without adding your own spin falls flat for those evaluating your open roles.

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  1. This bring us to our first idea for making your job posts more attractive to a wider range of candidates: customize your EEO statement. If you’re copying the scripted federal language without fleshing out that content, candidates can feel that the effort is just that, copy and paste. If you haven’t already, updating your EEO statement allows you to add aspects that reflect your company’s values and a genuine commitment to greater diversity. Research shows people do read EEO statements to better gauge how a company approaches diversity. It’s one small place to reaffirm your dedication to unbiased hiring.

  2. One key indicator of an organization’s commitment to diversity is the makeup of their management team. Companies with a diverse leadership team have higher job satisfaction and retention rates. As most technical candidates are in a position of choice, a diverse leadership team can set your company apart. In a 2021 Catalyst report, researchers found that Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women board directors performed better financially than those with the lowest representation of women on their board of directors. The companies were measured on three important measures:
    • Return on Equity: Female-friendly companies outperformed the competition by 53%.
    • Sales: Companies with more women on their board saw a 42% higher return on sales
    • Return on Invested Capital: Perhaps most tellingly of all, the companies with more women board directors turned invested capital into profit 66% more successfully. (Brazen)

  3. The above example only studied one small subset of diversity within organizations, gender diversity. Challenge yourself and your team to create a definition of diversity that goes beyond tradition. Diversity can look like many things, and being open and inclusive allows you to come up with new avenues for searching for and hiring talented people. We suggest advertising in unusual places, and leaning on social media to communicate with potential candidates. This could be utilizing a hiring platform geared towards BIPOC developers and engineers, a diversity hiring HR tool, or seeking connections with different Facebook and LinkedIn groups. Instead of advertising in the usual places, seek out media whose readers or viewers are of diverse backgrounds.

  4. Dig deep when confronting unconscious bias. Bias exists in all of us. Learning about the ways we’ve been socialized and how they inform our thinking is hugely helpful to removing bias from the hiring process. Something as small as a unique name can lead to assumptions about where someone is from, or their ability to communicate if they got the job. For the most part, these assumptions are detrimental to growing diversity within your team, and it’s important we take note of where they show up. The National Bureau of Economic Research found that “Job applicants with white names needed to send about 10 resumes to get one callback; those with African-American names needed to send around 15 resumes to get one callback.” One approach for removing name-based bias is by conducting blind resume evaluations. This means that HR and recruiting departments remove candidate’s names so they are evaluated solely based on their skills and experience before moving into the next round of interviews.

  5. Ask your people who their people are... One straightforward approach to growing diversity is by creating a referral program in your organization internally. There’s a great chance that if your team is diverse, their networks are also diverse. By getting the people that already work for your company involved in growing your team, you can lean into that enthusiasm and perhaps even motivate those conversations to happen through the incentive of a referral bonus. Your employees are eager to help, they’re just waiting to be asked.

  6. Appeal to diverse candidates by offering flexible workplace policies. According to research by McKinsey, the top company cultural value that women are most attracted to is a flexible schedule. From another study, one of the main reasons why employees quit their jobs is due to commute and traveling distance. Lack of remote work and flexibility can lead to quicker burnout, so the best way to attract a broader range of candidates is by offering flexibility. The world is changing, and even before the pandemic Millennials preferred company cultures that openly emphasized greater work/life balance. Flexible policies also apply to PTO and parental leave.

  7. Recruit diverse candidates through a personality assessment rather than a technical one. Why? Typically, the criteria for recruiting candidates, where they’ve worked, the schools they’ve attended, and who they know, can actually make the candidate pipeline more homogenous. Allowing a candidate to take a personality test, assuming their other experience is a good fit, can measure their motivation and skills apart from what’s on their resume. In a different way, personality assessments reveals what an individual could contribute to your organization on an interpersonal/leadership level. As personality scores do not differ based on how you identify yourself, they are a great tool for assessing how someone actually works in a collaborative environment.

  8. Present genuinely diverse interview panels. Did you know that only 23% of C-Suite roles in the United States are held by women? This seems especially alarming considering the US labor force is an even 50/50 split between men and women. What’s more, of the top 500 companies in the US, only 1% of C-Suite executives are black. We could compile these statistics all day, but the point is to highlight that leadership teams, across industries, may not be as representative as we think. While it’s easy to ask your most senior people to lead an interview panel, it’s worth taking a moment to ask, does this group truly represent our organization from a diversity standpoint? Hiring for diversity is a highly worthy endeavor and smart business decision, but often involves realizing that we must be more conscious when it comes to the hiring processes we design.

  9. Talk about employee resource groups (ERGs). Employee Resource Groups, also known as business network groups or interest groups, can be a great tool for expanding on diversity practices in the workplace. These groups give employees a platform to be heard, and can help new employees feel comfortable when their starting a job. ERGs are also a great space to leverage your employee’s ideas for engaging with and reflecting the diversity of their consumers. In general, they can be an inexpensive kickstart for generating more ideas on inclusion and belonging.

  10. Technical assessments are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to bias in the hiring process. When hiring is based solely on these tests, we forget that not every candidate has had the experience or education related to how to take and excel in technical examinations. If we were to change how hiring managers and recruiters utilized technical assessments, as a way to focus on a candidate's weaknesses and strengths and discover areas for skilling, their purpose could go beyond scoring someone and moving on. Experts believe that in order to move the needle on diversity, particularly in the tech space, employers will need to be more involved in developing the education and skills they are seeking. Whether it's hiring more junior resources and training them up to speed, or connecting with schools on curriculum, tech assessments could become a more effective assessment if we even out the playing field.

When It Comes To Hiring Diverse Candidates, Consistency Is Key

We’ll end this brainstorm with a thought-provoking study. Research published by Harvard Business Review found that in hiring situations where only one non-white or non-male individual is on the list of potential candidates, their chances of being hired are practically zero. It’s our nature as humans to reduce risk and avoid deviating from the norm, but this auto-response conflicts with intentionally seeking what’s different. In short, having one candidate with a trait that stands out as different would subconsciously be labeled as more of a risk, and therefore not as seriously considered.

As talent professionals, if we know the odds of a diverse candidate being hire rise drastically with one other diverse candidate in the mix, this is an easily achievable practice that elevates the exposure of and the chance that someone with a different background could be hired. Recruiters and talent acquisition teams can weed out this specific bias simply by offering two or more diverse candidates as a standard practice. Something as small as making sure no one stands out like a sore thumb creates a more even environment for evaluation of those candidates. This anecdote, and others sprinkled throughout this post, indicate that a strong diversity hiring practice comes from small changes that fight bias, plus being consistent about those changes. If done correctly, over time, these ideas can change our approach for finding top talent in a tight job market.

Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.

If you have any questions about living, working or playing any of the areas we serve, please contact us. We are happy to help. Seize the day, every day, that’s what we say!