Improving diversity and inclusion is a goal for talent acquisition teams of all sizes. Throughout the year, the CXR Community has worked through exercises and discussions designed for improving diversity and inclusion. We’ve included the top member recommendations here. We’re also sharing the details of an exercise designed to help organizations identify where they should invest their resources. Upon completion of this article, readers can expect to have the fuel required to spark some meaningful discussions internally (if they’re not having them already) and even kick off their next team meeting with an eye-opening activity.
What tactics are companies investing in now for improving diversity and inclusion?
CXR community member companies include world-recognized brands and all have one key thing in common and that’s literally a requirement of membership at CXR: their talent acquisition teams and leaders are at the forefront of innovation. When we ask them where they are investing their resources to enhance inclusion, the answers are noteworthy. Regardless of the resources used, the common theme among these recruiting leaders is that if you are trying to make evidence-based decisions, targeting people from a variety of sources, and using a diverse cast of actors within your process (recruiters, hiring managers, interviewers, etc.) then you should start seeing differences in diversity hiring numbers. It’s why we at CXR are taking the stance that it’s past time to better partner with the Talent Management function in order to strengthen true inclusion efforts within your organization.
Examples of successful tactics that CXR Community members are using for improving diversity and inclusion:
- Partnerships with diverse organizations at both college and professional levels
- On-site events: bringing in candidates from minority-serving organizations for a professional development opportunity with interviews and same-day offers in an effort to show people the organization’s culture so they can picture themselves there.
- Developing diverse teams to attend off-site diversity-themed events.
- Establishing a focused diversity sourcing team.
- Making sure there is both leadership participation and stakeholders involved within employee resource groups.
- Including unconscious bias training for recruiters and hiring managers as part of required training and development programs.
- Creating a revision or review process to remove unconscious bias from job descriptions and marketing copy.
- Sponsoring high school and community events to start reaching out to a diverse population earlier in the candidate journey and education.
- Assigning a specific recruiter to specific outreach where they have an affinity. (Don’t have a recruiter with a specific affinity? Look to team up with your employees!)
- Representing diversity in marketing and communication materials – both internal and external to the organization.
- Mandating diversity within the interview process on the company side by delivering a diverse slate of decision making interviewees to the candidates throughout the process.
- Ensuring that disability and inclusion efforts go beyond traditional metrics of gender or ethnicity and focus on the diversity of education, thought, and experience rather than just disabilities or veterans, for example.
Using those tactics to reach diverse candidates
The best investments in the world are only good if they truly resonate with your target audience. Over the last year, we challenged hundreds of CXR Community talent acquisition leaders at top FORTUNE companies to explore how they perceive their employee values and, in turn, what their candidates feel are important. In this case, specifically, candidates with varying disabilities. During those exercises and the subsequent conversations, it quickly became obvious (every single time) that “one-size-fits-all” messaging is no longer acceptable – particularly if you are focusing on diversity initiatives.
Using research inspired by a Universum study, we first asked leaders to prioritize what was important to their company from an extensive list of elements within the categories of corporate reputation, people & culture, job characteristics, and rewards. Then, unbeknownst to them, they were given (or selected) a specific persona and asked to do the same exercise as best they could through the eyes of that candidate.
Personas of candidates with the following disabilities were considered:
- Speech impairment
- Hearing impairment
- Vision impairment
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Mobility challenges
Tripped up by knowledge gaps
The teams participating quickly identified two additional challenges with the target market. First, not all disabilities are easily identified and some must be disclosed – something that already often proves difficult to discover or collect. Also, some disabilities require varying levels of accommodations while others are “work-ready” and require little adaptation, if any. Either way, even the best messaging won’t reach the right people if you can’t segment the audience and determine their needs.
The second challenge discussed was the challenge around learning more about a candidate’s actual needs. Even the most senior of leaders found themselves making a lot of assumptions while working through this exercise. It became very clear that they simply don’t know enough about what they could be doing or if what they are offering is even sufficient.
We weren’t expecting the exercise to uncover these challenges initially but over the course of repeating this with various leaders and leadership levels, we recognize that they are certainly real. It’s also important to note the realization that we all have biases and knowledge gaps; internal training – particularly interview training – is primed to be part of the solution at so many organizations looking to meet the needs of candidates with various requirements, but isn’t advancing as quickly as anyone would like.
Seeking an innovative solution for improving diversity and inclusion
The go-to solutions presented were ones we’ve all heard before: employee resource groups, improved communication of offerings, flexible work conditions. The exercise didn’t uncover much innovation in immediately addressing the challenge but most certainly sparked hours of incredible discussions and varying levels of enlightenment.
With the unprecedented amount of experience and expertise involved in these exercises with hundreds of TA leaders, why didn’t we walk away from these deep-dives with brand new solutions that could be successfully implemented immediately and at any company? In large part, because of the two challenges mentioned above. There is a startlingly large gap of baseline knowledge around the details of “diversity initiatives” that not only needs to be shared but in many instances simply discovered. So while there are some exciting opportunities for new and meaningful work to help chip away at the challenge, many organizations still need to better define the box before they can even begin to think outside of it.