Six Tips for Attracting and Hiring Diverse Talent

Almost all of the core HR functions have been impacted in one way or another by the events of 2020. HR leaders have had to flex, evolve and transform to manage the workforce within the constraints of a global pandemic, and to address issues and expectations related to the social justice unrest that has surged since the killing of George Floyd in the US and other events around the globe.

The Recruiting function is arguably one of the most impacted of all HR functions, not only due to the virtual nature of the process in most cases, but also because of the changing expectations of candidates and other key stakeholders as well. Business leaders and customers alike are recognizing that their workforce needs to better reflect the demographics of their customers, users, partners, and communities they serve and operate in.

As we have been collaborating and supporting our clients, we have seen best practices emerging. Hiring professionals are being more intentional about branding their organization as more diverse, inclusive and equitable, where prospective employees feel that they can belong. They are also ensuring that their internal processes are updated as needed to better reflect this branding to retain the diverse talent they are hiring.

The below tips and resources provide a great integrated list of emerging best practices to examine your own hiring processes through the pre-interview, interview and post-interview phases. These best practices have been proven to be helpful in propelling your organization to attract diverse talent of all genders, sexual orientation, age brackets, race, ethnicity, language, abilities, marital status, income, and education.

Tip 1: Question the hiring goals, training and resources provided to your recruiters and hiring managers

  • Are there any specific goals set in your organization for diversity hiring?
  • Has there been internal communications to recruiters and hiring managers with respect to diversity of the current workforce and the desired future state?
  • What example does your top leadership set with regards to diversity of the top team?
  • What are the frequency and topics of your diversity awareness training?
  • What is the frequency of unconscious bias training?
  • What does leadership development look like in your organization?
  • What tools are available to your recruiters and hiring managers to prepare them for the hiring process?
  • What feedback tools and resources are available to your recruiters and hiring managers?

Resource: Review your historical/current workforce diversity, consider setting hiring diversity goals, assess the communications, training, and tools available to your recruiters and hiring managers.

Tip 2: Question where your brand positioning begins and ends (both online and in the communities you serve and operate in)

  • Where does the public experience your brand?
  • What types of events are promoted by your organization?
  • What types of events are attended by your leaders/employees?
  • What organizations and programs does your organization support or partner with?
  • What is the perception of your current and past employees about your brand?
  • Can applicants see themselves reflected in the online presence of your organization?
  • (e.g. through the pictures, content, accessibility, etc of your website and related links) Can applicants see themselves reflected in your physical space? (e.g. through posted signs, images and colors, physical accessibility, welcome behaviors, etc).

Resource: Analyze current employee experience and exit interview data. Assess your organization's reviews on websites such as Glassdoor, Yelp, and Google.

Tip 3: Question your job postings, applicant pool and the initial downselect

  • Do you require a “diverse” slate of applicants for your job openings?
  • What demographics are generally attracted to the job boards where you list your job openings?
  • What type of applicants are currently applying to your job postings?
  • What type of language and industry lingo are used in your job descriptions?
  • Are the requirements listed in your job descriptions reflective of the specific job responsibilities? are they too rigid or restrictive?
  • Are you hiring for culture fit? or culture add?
  • What is the diversity profile of your "ideal employee"? Does this profile reflect a cultural add to the team they will be joining, the department they will report to, or the organization as a whole?
  • Do you remove identifying information -- i.e. use “blind” resumes -- in the initial assessment process to downselect applicants for interviews?

Resource: Analyze the makeup of teams and departments that have openings. Assess the messages and instructions your recruiters and hiring managers receive. Review your down-select process.

Tip 4: Question the application process from the applicant’s perspective

  • What steps does an applicant need to go through to apply to your job postings? Are they all required? Are there any that could present a barrier to some applicants?
  • Do you use standardized personality tests?
  • Does the applicant have to take any skill tests with objective scoring criteria?
  • How do you manage applicant referrals in your organization?

Resource: Run tests with your current application process to identify barriers. Assess your employee referral program and if it includes information about the applicant profile you are looking for.

Tip 5: Question your applicant experience during the interview

  • How many people are involved in the interview process?
  • Do interviewers represent the diversity that you would like to see in your applicant pool?
  • Do you use a panel format with several interviewers? or are there separate interviews?
  • Do you provide opportunities for applicants to talk (in person or virtually) with their potential colleagues?
  • Are standardized interview questions used?

Resource: Analyze the number of hires and profile of hires by each recruiter. Assess the interview process and the communication exchange between recruiters and applicants. Review lists of prior interviewers by department.


Tip 6: Question you Post-Interview Process

  • How many people are involved in the final selection process?
  • Do you use weighted selection criteria to make the final decision?
  • How is the offer made to the selected applicant(s)?
  • What is the rejection process like?
  • Do you have a hiring debrief process?
  • How are recruiters and hiring managers rewarded for hiring, retaining and promoting diverse talent?
  • Are the job descriptions and performance reviews for recruiters and hiring managers reflective of your diversity goals and the inclusive workplace you are building where diverse talent can thrive?

Resource: Analyze interview notes and the reasons for hiring/rejection recommendations. Assess if the communications with applicants are consistently reflective of how your organization wants to be perceived.

Hiring best practices vary across industries, organizational cultures, and leaders’ comfort levels with change management. When we understand the gaps in the approach and process, by asking the above questions, we can start to work towards the hiring practices that support our strategic goals.

Join us at the Future of Work Roundtables to delve deeper into these trends and much more. If you are an HR, workplace culture, or D&I expert, champion or ally and would like to join the “Future of Work” Community, please go to We look forward to hearing from you.