Here’s How to Boost Workplace Diversity With Your Hiring Strategy

Carolyne Njeri

Here's How to Boost Workplace Diversity With Your Hiring Strategy
Workplace diversity is not only essential for the fight towards gender equality; it’s also imperative for the success of any business.

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Diversity is one of the most important emerging issues in today’s world. In 2020, following the tragedies that befell people of color in the US and other places globally, it has become more important than ever to create environments that make all people feel included. In business, inclusivity can take an even more practical approach, where hiring executives can make deliberate efforts to open up their hiring criteria to encompass people from all walks of life. This merit-based diversity hiring has many benefits aside from the commonly-sought aesthetic effect, because it exposes businesses to people from different backgrounds with fresh ideas and skills that can propel them to greater heights. According to a 2018 report, diverse companies have 19% higher revenues and are 70% more likely to successfully venture into new markets.

However, building a diverse staff can pose some unique challenges to recruiters. First, it can be confused as diversity for diversity’s sake. This is when recruiters hire that one “different” person to make the workplace look inclusive, without giving it much thought. But in truth, diversity hiring is a fair and calculated endeavor that helps to remove biases that you may have in your hiring process. Sometimes these biases may not be directly apparent, but that is not to say that they don’t exist and that their effects are not felt. When you hire discriminately, you miss out on a pool of talent that could potentially help your business grow, not to mention the fact that you also make it harder for marginalized people to access employment.

Diversity takes many forms

When people think about diversity, a majority of them jump to race. And although it is one of the most pressing issues we experience in our day to day lives, racial discrimination is the tip of the inclusivity iceberg. Gender, religion, and disability discrimination are also some of the prevalent issues plaguing the workplace, that make it difficult for qualified people to be seriously considered for job opportunities.

Women, for example, who already have a difficult time navigating the male-dominated workplace, also have to bear the additional load of the wage gap. Coming on three years since the legendary Women’s March of 2017, it is important for us as a society to acknowledge the challenges that women face as they seek to carve out a career path for themselves. Sexual harassment, the wage gap, and being looked over for promotions because of the stigma against pregnancy and child-rearing are some of the most common problems women have to endure constantly. Since the Coronavirus pandemic began, for instance, over one million working mothers lost their jobs because they had to take care of their children who were stuck at home due to school closures- no such calamity befell fathers. This is why it is not only enough to hire diversely but to create an equitable work environment for all your employees to thrive. Here’s how you can do that:

  • Use inclusive language in your job descriptions

Although it may be easier to use gendered pronouns on your job ads, it’s always better to use neutral language so that you attract all people to apply. Because gender is a problematic topic, it’s wise to use pronouns that don’t leave anyone out if you aim to diversify your workforce. According to recruiters, job descriptions with gender-neutral phrasing get 42% more applicants than gendered ones. This neutrality should also extend to the content on your webpages and social networking sites. 

  • Have a remote work model in place

Remote work has a myriad of other benefits aside from keeping your employees as safe as possible from COVID-19. It also allows them to operate in an environment in which they are comfortable, which in turn works wonders for their productivity and mental health. But aside from that, it could be the key to keeping your staff diverse. For instance, pregnant and nursing mothers can work easily at home and be able to juggle their lives with their work. You can hire a disabled employee without having to worry about whether or not your offices are wheelchair accessible. You can also hire someone from an entirely different continent and still work with them efficiently thanks to the technology that powers virtual collaborations. All these benefits plus the fact that you won’t have to pay expensive rates to maintain your office real estate are surefire reasons to go remote permanently.

  • Hire from diverse pools

Online freelance marketplaces like Ureed.com offer a wide pool of talent for you to pick from. The platform includes freelancers from all over the world, so you don’t have to limit your recruitment to where your business is located. Moreover, talent, skills, and work ethic are at the center and all else is secondary, enabling you to hire indiscriminately. What’s more, hiring freelancers makes your operations flexible, less expensive, and increases the quality of your work.

  • Audit your current hiring process

You may not be actively discriminatory but your recruitment process may be creating bottlenecks for some people to join your staff. So unless you analyze your criteria and create a more open environment, you may remain in a rut all through. Try using more diverse channels to advertise your openings, so you can capture a wider audience or include creative social media campaigns to encourage diverse employees to apply. Additionally, you could also diversify your interviewing panel through collaborative hiring to help weed out unconscious biases. Diversity training could also go a long way in helping your recruiters avoid discriminatory practices.

The takeaway

Diversity in the workplace is a multifaceted subject that requires a dedicated and well-informed approach. That being said, it waters down to providing a fair playing ground for everyone in the workplace to prosper. It can include approaches as simple as choosing office décor that celebrates different cultures to more complex issues like the wage gap and work leaves for new parents. The motivation behind your choice to diversify your workforce shouldn’t be just for optics (it comes off as disingenuous and patronizing and is easy to spot) but as an effort to improve the lives of others and make the world a more equal place.

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