In college, I learned about a psychological phenomenon called groupthink, which is what happens when a group of similar individuals think too much alike. They begin to blindly agree without thinking through all angles. Not only can groupthink lead to mistakes and missed opportunities, but it can stifle the growth of a team or even a company.
The number one way to avoid this phenomenon is to build a team with diverse members who can provide unique ideas and perspectives from their varied life experiences. A heterogenous team is shown to increase decision-making and innovation, thereby helping to increase a company’s revenue and competitive position.
Diversity can include many differentiators including race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, age and more. When recruiting, companies need to take these characteristics into account and learn how to attract candidates from a variety of representative groups.
Here are some ways to make your company more attractive to diverse applicants:
Check the language in your job postings
The job listing is the first thing most candidates look at, so make sure it communicates your desire for diverse applicants in a way that is genuine and inclusive. Don’t use canned phrases about diversity because candidates will see right through it. Show that you’re an equal opportunity employer, through your words and actions, rather than telling it.
Think about what might be important to someone who, say, doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Maybe you have flexible paid holiday time for them to use when their important holidays fall throughout the year. Or maybe your clients are located globally and you’re looking for someone with international work experience. The idea is to express the gaps you want to fill, rather than listing requirements (Read: limitations). Make those perks and your desires known, so applicants who fit the bill will know that they’re a fit.
Ensure your branding demonstrates diversity
This is along the same lines as the “show, don’t tell” principle mentioned above. As soon as a candidate reads the job posting and concludes that they’re interested, they inevitably will start doing some “stalking” on your website and social media. But if people like them aren’t depicted across those channels, they may not feel as welcome or qualified. If you’re truly working toward being a diverse employer, make sure ALL your employees are represented on your owned channels. Even be cognizant of the stock photos you’re using. Are they showing a diverse range of people as well?
In addition, engage in conversations about diversity-related issues on your channels and through your marketing efforts. It could be as simple as wishing Muslims a festive Ramadan at that time of year. Or it might involve more complexity, such as talking about the importance of female executives and combating the gender wage gap. Also consider partnering with diverse organizations as well as those that are working on these issues or that have a similar mission to yours. No need to get too political, but it’s important to applicants that your company’s values align with theirs, so don’t be afraid to share about what your business believes in.
Build your company culture and policies with diversity and inclusion in mind
A truly diverse company needs to ingrain the ideals of inclusion into every aspect of their organization. Whether you’re a new company just starting to form your policies and culture or a veteran in your industry, it’s never too late to implement diversity-forward practices. A heterogenous team is shown to increase decision-making and innovation, thereby helping to increase a company’s revenue and competitive position.
A heterogenous team is shown to increase decision-making and innovation, thereby helping to increase a company’s revenue and competitive position.
Some questions to consider: Are employees encouraged to share about their cultures? Do you wish everyone a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”? Do you have paid parental leave for any parent, regardless of gender identity? Are both your leadership and team representative of a variety of differentiators, such as races, religions, sexual identities and genders?
There are plenty more where those questions come from, as bringing diversity into the fabric of your organization requires this kind of intentionality.
Get referrals and form partnerships
Have a great employee who is very connected with a diverse range of potential applicants and/or from a diverse background themselves? Ask them to refer some of their peers to the hiring managers. This is a great way to tap into applicant pools that you didn’t previously have access to and to get endorsed candidates in the door.
Similarly, consider offering scholarships or partnering with nearby colleges and universities to start making connections with students who are close to graduating and could be good applicants. Send a few diverse representatives to career fairs so they can network with students, who will hopefully be from diverse backgrounds themselves.
Most of these initiatives have to do with optics. As the figurative “they” say, “you can’t just talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.” To bring in diverse applicants, you have to demonstrate, with everything that you do, that diversity is important to your organization and that you are culturally aware and inclusive.
Of course, it’ll take companies some time and resources to implement. But it’s so worth the investment to have an awesome team filled with minds that do NOT think alike!