Diverse workplaces are the new normal. In fact, nearly half of American millennials say a diverse and inclusive workplace is an important factor in a job search. Though your organization may be familiar with the benefits of a diverse workforce — from more innovation to better performance — what’s less clear is how to actually hire for diversity. After all, reading about diversifying talent is not the same as actively assessing and reworking a candidate pipeline.

No matter where you’re starting, our approach to diverse hiring at Orange Grove Consulting is hands-on and helps organizations dive into their data, identify the unspoken and unconscious filters defining “fit,” and examine the barriers for diverse candidates. From there, learners strategically edit a new process and pilot it to refine and adjust.

The first step to implementing diverse hiring practices is measuring your organization’s ability to attract and convert diverse candidates using data — it’s hard to convince people that something needs to change if it hasn’t been measured first. It also gives us a baseline in order to set realistic goals for change and measure progress along the way.

Once you’ve got an objective evaluation on your organization’s current practices, there are a few methods you can use to ensure diverse hiring:


1. Prioritize A Diverse Candidate Set

One way to ensure that a diverse team member is hired is to prioritize that a diverse candidate set is considered. Data has shown that when there is only one female candidate in the pool, the status quo bias effect suggests that they have zero probability of being selected. But when at least half the candidates are female, there is a very high likelihood a female will be hired.


2. Envision Diverse Candidates

Think about an open position you have right now and imagine that your perfect candidate walked through the door. What would that person be like?

Depending on that role, research tells us that most people think white male when they think leadership. Instead, start to consider what a diverse candidate could be for that role. Hone in on the skills or the cognitive diversity that they could bring. Identify the specific characteristics, such as someone who has the ability to be patient or empathic, that you’re looking for in that role.


3. Rethink Referrals

The default for much of hiring is referrals. 85% of all jobs overall are found via network.​ 58% of companies use employee referral management — but the problem is that if your population isn’t diverse, and you rely on referrals, it’s going to stay non-diverse.

To counteract this, you have to expand your network. Be clear about what the networks of your hiring managers look like and then find others you can partner with and establish relationships. For example, partnering with a local university is one of the best ways to find people of color or women for STEM roles like programming.

It’s also important to avoid the same schools that everyone goes to and other unconscious biases around gender, race, and socio-economic privilege. For example, looking for internships (which are often unpaid) can lead to biases toward wealthier candidates.


Once you’ve sourced and hired a diverse team, the next step is to build the skills of working across differences and getting out of groupthink. Diversity will initially create more conflict in your teams, but with the right training, you’ll be on your way to achieving the inclusive workplace your organization has your sights set on.

Looking to explore support for your diverse hiring efforts? We offer a range of solutions to assist with diverse hiring, including 1:1 and small group coaching, group presentations, an asynchronous course for HR and recruiters, and talent acquisition redesign/implementation projects.

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