Why Diversity and Inclusion Starts with Recruitment

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Diversity and Inclusion is an increasingly important element of the modern workplace. Most businesses recognize that company culture, workplace policy and inclusive management styles are all relevant to fostering a welcoming and productive workplace. Many also recognize that focusing on Diversity and Inclusion helps to boost your brand, and makes your organization a more attractive employer. 

However, the role of talent acquisition in supporting Diversity and Inclusion is often reduced to simple hiring quotas, or, in the worst cases, doubted as disingenuous window-dressing. 

This article will explain why your D&I approach should start with a focus on recruitment, and why talent acquisition plays such a crucial role in fulfilling your Diversity and Inclusion goals. We’ll also explain how D&I strengthens your recruiting strategy, and how having D&I-first talent acquisition helps you achieve both talent and diversity goals. 

Why is Diversity and Inclusion Crucial to Your Recruitment Strategy?

Diversity and Inclusion is already important, but has rightfully gained prominence in recent years. Candidates are increasingly cautious of companies that ignore it. In a recent Garner report, 70% of Latinx, Black, BIPOC and Asian candidates stated that they had stopped an application short because of D&I and management style concerns. The same applies to 60% of White American candidates. Our own data supports this - D&I is a key contributor to candidates withdrawing their applications. 

D&I is not centered on race alone. It also impacts candidates of all genders, disabilities, disorders, veteran statuses, sexualities, and other demographic groups. To be inclusive, you have to consider, for example, the difficulties that colorblind candidates face with certain website designs. This also applies the challenges created by the lack of wheelchair accessibility to your office building, and other potentially limiting factors.

An authentic commitment to D&I requires a holistically inclusive approach suitable to all of these groups. If you want to be truly committed to Diversity and Inclusion, you have to start with your hiring practices. 

D&I is a strengthening agent to your brand, company, work culture, and reputation. According to Robert Walters, 85% of employers agree that workplace diversity is a priority, but 45% of employers believe that their existing recruitment tools are ineffective for fostering diverse talent. 

Having a cohesive focus on D&I is also beneficial to your Talent Acquisition strategy: a broader talent pool, better access to diverse talent, and strengthened employer branding. The benefits of a strengthened employer brand are particularly relevant to attracting talent in a competitive market.

Diversity and Inclusion also leads to higher likelihood of innovation and higher employee retention. Giving it due diligence also means that you won’t lose out on the large subset of candidates who are seriously passionate about Diversity and Inclusion, or on those who don’t belong to non-marginalized groups. 

If you’re interested in some practical tips on how to build a D&I-first talent acquisition pipeline, check out our Inclusive Hiring Guide.

How does Diversity and Inclusion Impact Candidate Experience?

The hiring process is a future employee’s first touchpoint with a company, and first impressions matter. In fact, we analyzed 300,000+ Candidate Experience datapoints and discovered that Diversity and Inclusion was the second most important element of Candidate Experience for both rejected and withdrawn candidates. 

In other words, if your Talent Acquisition team doesn’t properly embody your Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, then candidates will perceive your company as lacking a focus on them. This results in a higher likeliness of a negative Candidate Experience. 

A poor Candidate Experience has its own downsides, including lowered buying intention, less referrals, negative reviews, and active discouraging of other applicants. As our research shows, D&I is tightly intertwined with candidates’ perception of your company. 

Most recruiters are aware that measuring Candidate Experience is important to optimizing your process, but the same diligence should be applied to tracking Diversity and Inclusion metrics within candidates’ experiences. 

Measuring specific dimensions like Equity, Commitment to D&I, and, of course, Diversity and Inclusion allow you to get a complete picture of how your candidates perceive your commitments. 

Breaking this data down by demographic and recruiter is even more revealing, and helps to identify potential areas of improvement. If you use Greenhouse, then you can anonymously ask candidates to report their demographics, consistent with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines. Even though this is a U.S. agency, the same principles serve as solid advice to all businesses worldwide: understanding your candidates’ demographics and feelings is useful for everyone. 

For example, knowing that a certain recruiter or hiring manager scores lower than the average on Inclusivity is a clear sign to hold anti-bias training. This will help candidates feel more at ease, and increase the chances of a positive Candidate Experience. Measuring per stage is also important. Noticing that candidates’ diversity or inclusivity ratings rapidly shrink after a specific point in the pipeline is a useful insight.

Case Study: Twilio’s Anti-Racist Recruitment

So, what are some practical examples of D&I-first recruitment? 

One of our partners, Twilio, is deeply committed to anti-racism, and a fair and equitable recruiting process. To quote Ibram X. Kendi, “the opposite of racist isn’t ‘not racist’“. Being anti-racist means actively fighting racism in every facet of life, including the workplace. 

Recruitment is a crucial part of living out anti-racism at Twilio. We recently sat down with Mathias Connot, Twilio’s VP of Global Talent Acquisition, to talk about Twilio’s active commitment to anti-racism, and the fact that “D&I is not a strategy”. 

One of the things that Mathias stressed is how crucial recruitment is to making sure that Twilio can live up to its promises: 

That’s where the company gets to show they are living the values. […] We’re very up-front and deliberate on telling the candidate "hold us accountable"

Mathias wanted to ensure that his team was being inclusive, and that this was being actively tracked and measured. Using our solution, Mathias began to measure Candidate Experience and break it down by EEOC demographic.

It paid off: taking just a single quarter as an example, Mathias’ team made 250 core R&D hires. 46% were women, 14% were Black, and 12% were Latinx. Their Inclusivity scores were high, and Mathias could rest easy knowing that he was helping to spearhead Twilio’s anti-racist commitment. 

Want to know more? Read about Twilio’s experience here.

Conclusion

Diversity and Inclusion is not an easy commitment. Most businesses are aware of its importance, but many don’t factor in how important it is to begin with your recruitment strategies. Having a holistic approach to Diversity and Inclusion is important for your recruiting strategy, and allows you to access untapped talent pools, and increase candidate quality. Likewise, maintaining a diverse and inclusive Talent Acquisition process helps strengthen your employer brand, raise your firm’s reputation, and increase both innovation and employee retention.

Starting your D&I efforts off with recruitment will set you up for success and ensure that every candidate coming into contact with - and becoming part of - your business understands your D&I mission.

Measuring Candidate Experience is especially relevant to tracking and understanding how your Diversity and Inclusion efforts are coming together, and how your candidates feel. If you break this data down and begin to remediate based on your insights, you can ensure that your D&I initiative is bulletproof. 

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