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Diversity is increasingly a top priority in recruitment efforts, and as the definition of a “diverse hire” expands to fit today’s workforce, many employers struggle with creating a truly diverse and inclusive workplace.
The global nature of business in 2018 means that companies must hire individuals who mirror the diverse makeup of clients and customers to succeed, Audra Jenkins, chief diversity and inclusion officer for Randstad U.S., told Bloomberg Law Jan. 30. The purchasing power of women, minorities, and the LGBTQ community is also really driving this focus on diversity and inclusion, Jenkins said. “Employers find they need to represent their brand in a way that drives the use of those products for these groups.”
“Having a workforce that reflects your users and customers is central in why diversity matters,” Brendan Browne, head of talent acquisition at LinkedIn, told Bloomberg Law via email Jan. 31. For example, companies may have employees designing and building products for users that they truly don’t understand, Browne said. “The best way to close this gap and build better products is to hire people from the communities and demographics which your product serves.”
LinkedIn’s 2018 report on global recruiting trends found that 78 percent of talent leaders say they are tackling hiring diverse talent head-on. Gender and ethnic/racial minorities currently top the list of where employers are focusing their efforts, but recruiters are expanding their search to veterans, age, religion, and employees with disabilities, according to the report.
One of the biggest changes to employers’ approach to diversity is that the conversation has expanded beyond just “diversity,” Browne said. “It’s not just about checking off that box in hiring, it’s about making sure your company supports both inclusion and belonging for its employees once they are there as well.”
“You have to tackle both at the same time, and I think that’s where employers are struggling,” Jenkins said. “Unfortunately inclusion can often be a secondary issue for employers.”
Organizations also need to tailor their approach to diversity to the individual needs of diverse hires, Jenkins said. Sometimes HR is looking for “a cookie-cutter, broad-brush stroke model for D&I, but that doesn’t work.” Successful outreach to diverse pools of potential employees requires local strategies, on-the-ground recruiting pipelines, and a case-by-case approach, she said.
Achieving diversity means deeper community partnerships, and that takes work, she added.
In addition to the general consensus that hiring from a diverse pool of candidates nets positives for an organization, companies are also looking into ways to incentivize diverse hiring practices.
At Randstad, HR has invested in artificial intelligence systems to see how the technology can remove bias in the recruiting process, Jenkins said. The company has also looked at investing in technology to improve assessments of potential candidates, optimizing the experience for individuals from diverse backgrounds who may have historically been disenfranchised as a result of the recruitment process, Jenkins said
Talent leaders should also use data where and when available to help diversify talent pools and help inform hiring strategies and goals, Browne said. For example, to recruit employees from universities with diverse student bodies, LinkedIn developed an event strategy called Accelerate U in which the company hosts skill-building events in major metropolitan cities and invites local college students to attend.
Companies may really find success in the end by linking diversity and inclusion goals directly to compensation and bonuses, Jenkins added. “If you don’t link it to something that is meaningful to the individuals who can make the changes necessary to achieve a diverse environment, then it’s never going to change.”
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