How to Make Your Recruiting Inclusive

By 2055, there will no longer be a racial majority in the U.S. according to Pew Research Center. At the same time, religious diversity is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years and millennials, the most racially diverse adult generation to date, already make up the majority of the U.S. labor force

To say America is becoming more diverse is an understatement and engaging this increasingly diverse labor pool is tantamount to a successful, innovative company. It’s the third most important workforce trend impacting business, according to a study done by Mercer, and a 2015 McKinsey study found that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity were 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their national industry median. 

Yet while 73 percent of companies are working towards diverse leadership, only 54 percent of employees say their organization has effective programs in place for fostering inclusion.

So what does inclusive recruitment look like? The Mercer study concluded that a positive impact from inclusive recruitment depends on an “organization’s ability to engage, inspire, and retain, employees of different genders, ages, races, and backgrounds.” 

Here are a few ways your company can embrace inclusive recruiting: 

Acknowledge and address faults 
For inclusive recruitment to be successful, all employees, especially those in HR and talent acquisition, must understand its importance to the company and their role in ensuring their work reflects inclusive corporate values. 

Start by identifying and acknowledging the biases, conscious and unconscious, that may be present within your recruitment team. These biases can take the form of confirmation bias, which causes us to make quick judgments based on previously held beliefs whether they are true or not. Awareness of such biases enables individuals to recognize when they may be making a decision based on preconceived notions or assumptions. It is only with this awareness can companies take stock of how these biases can adversely affect diverse applicants and work to modify the recruitment process to be more inclusive.

Expand your network
While searching for new employees, colleagues are often encouraged to refer potential candidates for open positions, and sometimes even compensated if they are hired. Continually sourcing from those you and your colleagues are connected to means your company’s employee base will begin to look monotonous; whether it be a certain age range, economic status, or educational background. 

One way to combat this is through proactive recruiting from underrepresented populations. For example, when organizing college recruitment, add a few schools that cater to diverse groups. If you can’t add to the roster, start with outreach to clubs and groups on campuses that target diverse populations. Host information sessions both on and off-campus, as expanding your company’s brand recognition can aid in building trust among new target demographics.

Be sure to evaluate the language in your job descriptions, which oftentimes are not as inclusive as we think. Recruiting Daily suggests “[avoiding] words associated with male stereotypes, such as ‘decisive,’ ‘competitive’ and ‘dominant,‘” if you want to attract more female candidates. Similarly, it also offers that “avoiding words traditionally associated with female stereotypes, such as ‘support,’ ‘understand’ and ‘interpersonal’ can attract more men to jobs.”

Don’t discount relatability
A homogenous recruitment team poses barriers when attempting to diversify the employee base, as they may unconsciously give preference to those who look and act like them. Additionally, studies show diverse candidates feel more comfortable when they can relate to someone they meet during their interview process, meaning it’s not enough to simply recruit and interview diverse candidates, but they need to see where they fit culturally within an organization. Intel found that the number of new hires who were women or people of color increased by 13 percent from 2014 to 2016 after they decided to require at least two women or members of minorities on interview panels. 

Consistency is everything
To evaluate candidates more objectively and accurately, companies should standardize the recruitment, interviewing, and hiring process. Consider creating a guide that includes how resumes are accessed and how candidates are screened and interviewed. When each member of the team is following the same process, there is less room for variations in each candidate’s experience. 

How does your company ensure an inclusive recruiting process? Tell us by emailing