Recruiting for Inclusion: Ongoing Challenges, Competitive Practices

At each CareerXroads event throughout this past year, Chris and I had at least one exercise probing the state of recruiting practices that target greater inclusion of protected classes like race, gender, age, veterans, disability, sexual orientation and…well beyond compliance.

Several themes emerged. Balancing core culture ‘fit’ and valuing differences is an oft-told tale few have mastered. Globally, balancing local respect with corporate responsibility is another tough nut to crack. On the positive side, discussions among high-brand, industry leaders nearly always spotlight the evidence and support for inclusion as a business imperative.

Inclusion recruiting challenges

Challenges, obviously, remain significant. Disability is one of them. Few employers are confident they have a handle on recruiting people with disability let alone understanding the degree their workforce is willing to acknowledge disability openly. (We would especially like to highlight employers who have active programs reaching out to find, engage and select professionals with a disability. We’ve encountered fewer than a dozen).

One of my favorite practices surfaced during our Executive Recruiting Colloquium hosted by EY in New York City this Fall. It is pretty common to require that candidate slates for executive positions be diverse. And, it isn’t surprising that prospects are then interviewed by a ‘panel’ of employees- typically at the same level or above. What was interesting to hear from one employer was that every interviewing panel member had to be significantly diverse as well and, if there wasn’t sufficient diversity at the executive level to make up an appropriate interviewing panel, lower level diverse employees were tapped. Love it.

Other inclusion recruiting practices followed by leading firms that nearly always surfaced included:

  • Leveraging Employee Resource Groups as ambassadors to help brand, refer and select.
  • Ensuring top-down support, sponsorship, etc.
  • Setting Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for diverse slates of candidates
  • Tying inclusive hiring SLAs to leadership compensation
  • Dedicated sourcers. Specialized sourcing training.
  • Leveraging 3rd party and RPO partnerships to enhance help in attracting diverse candidates for hard to fill positions
  • Employee Referral Programs that highlight/incent commitment to inclusion.
  • Participating in mentoring programs for key diversity targets
  • Holding unconscious bias training for recruiters, hiring managers and, corporate leaders.
  • Assessing inclusion gaps annually to avoid ignoring people with disabilities, non-traditional backgrounds, etc. when strategzing for the future.

What practices stand out in your firm?