Building a diversity strategy is a critical goal for many organizations, but how do you get started? Diversity can feel ambitiously amorphous because it touches every part of the organization from hiring to onboarding to culture. Not only do you want to attract a more diverse pool of candidates, but you want to keep them engaged and motivated over time. This means that to scale diversity throughout your organization, you need to consider all parts of the employee experience.
As you work to refine your diversity strategy, keep these three key levers top of mind:
1. Talent Acquisition
Bringing in top talent is crucial to your company’s success, and there are several avenues to attract a more diverse pool of candidates. A common trend in talent acquisition is requiring recruiters to include at least one diverse candidate in the slate for each open role. While this is a step in the right direction, it may not be enough to move the needle. If you only have one diverse candidate in the interview process, what are the odds that he or she will be the best candidate for the job? I challenge my recruiters to bring in a diverse slate of candidates to increase our conversion rate for individuals of all backgrounds.
2. Candidate Pipeline
It’s not enough to publish job listings and hope that diverse candidates will apply. With the abundance of organizations that assist underrepresented individuals, recruiting teams should spend time building relationships with these groups to source prospective talent. Organizations that provide career advancement opportunities for minority college students, women in STEM, or even career changers who want to break in to a new industry can help fuel a more diverse candidate pipeline. In tech, for example, you might partner with Girls Who Code to encourage more women to apply for engineering roles in your company.
3. Employee Engagement
While getting diverse candidates in the door can be one of the more challenging aspects of the process, once they join, it’s important to keep them engaged. This means providing employees with the right tools and resources to do their job well and see a future path in the company. Be empathetic and recognize that if someone has a unique background, it may be harder to feel a sense of belonging. It’s crucial to ensure that your culture is truly inclusive, and not just a numbers game. Identify areas where you can offer resources to encourage career growth, development, and inclusion—such as Learning & Development programs and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Keep an eye on attrition to pinpoint factors that may cause diverse employees to leave the company. Surveys and focus groups are invaluable tools to help you understand what your employees need in order to feel a sense of belonging.
A successful diversity strategy starts with listening to what prospective and existing employees value in a workplace. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and crowdsource for answers. In the end, your business can only benefit from the unique perspective each individual brings to the table.