DE&I is a broad scope term with different definitions depending on what it applies to, be it education, the job market, social construct, healthcare and more. For instance, a very interesting explanation of “E” for Equity was described using the bicycle example. While we can say “everyone has a bike, therefore we are equal,” is it truly equal if not everyone can use that same bike in the same way? Did we consider the height, the weight, the physical ability to ride the bike, the means to afford that bike, or access to a safe place to ride the bike? There are so many factors to consider to transcend equality into equity; we need to ask the right questions, explore new options and shift our mindsets to look at Equity in conjunction with Diversity and Inclusion in a fresh light, especially as it pertains to transforming our workforces.
As we enter 2022, there are workforce concerns top of mind, including labor shortages, talent skill gaps and retention. Increasing DE&I in the permanent workforce realm tops priority lists for many organizations; and now attention within the contingent labor market is rising as well, as 63% of surveyed executives expect it to become a higher priority in the future.
Thankfully, companies have already enlisted the assistance of field experts in addressing DE&I, by providing evaluations, plans, goals, and measurables. That is a crucial first step to recognizing where an organization can improve and setting up a formalized process to deliver upon those improvements.
Along with a well thought out plan, we can continue to infuse procedures, protocols and ideas into a company aimed at shifting the mindset, one where DE&I isn’t just an “initiative” but simply inherent to the way we operate every day. For recruitment and hiring, it’s important to consider all aspects of diversity, inclusive of race, culture, gender and beyond, and implement ways we can level the playing field to attract candidates. There are socio-economic factors, neurodiversity and physical diversity considerations as well as lived experiences that apply to workforces that bring fresh thinking and new perspectives to our organizations.
As recruiters, consider the following:
1. Where are you finding your candidates? Are you varying your sources?
Mix it up! Look for local organizations and groups that serve various cultures, demographics and identified groups and reach out.
During the pandemic, women left their positions at a higher rate. It was a blow to any progress that was being made towards increasing gender diversity in the workforce; therefore, it is critical to establish paths for women to return to the workforce as the pandemic eases.
- Councils and membership organizations dedicated to women professionals should be on the radar of recruiters to partner with in order to create candidate pipelines.
- Schools in the area are another resource; most schools have parent organizations that are tasked with securing community sponsors. Becoming a sponsor in your school district offers marketing and advertising opportunities aimed at parents, a large pool of potential candidates.
- Contact your local Moms Club. With nearly 1,000 chapters in the U.S. as well as international chapters, you may find women ready to enter the workforce or looking to make a change while also managing a home life. This is a great source for finding contract and contingent professionals as well, as some parents may be in need of flexible working arrangements.
Military veteran organizations often work with recruiters to help transition military members to civilian jobs. In 2020, the BLS noted that there were 18.5 million veterans accounting for ages of 18 and older; but studies show that veterans are 15.6% more likely to be underemployed than their non-veteran counterparts. There is a huge opportunity to create recruiting partnerships with local veteran organizations and employment pathways for individuals who have served our country and who can bring a unique perspective to an organization based on their experiences.
Social assistance groups. The pandemic unfortunately left a wake of hardship in its path. With some small businesses closed, growing difficulties with homelessness, and family hardships due to illness, local government programs are used to support members of the communities during these hard times. While individuals are proactively trying to overcome these hardships, a helping hand reaching out directly with opportunities could be just what they need. During the job hunt, sometimes people don’t know where to look and how to begin; companies and recruiters should think about bringing the opportunities to them.
- Contact local organizations that are in touch with the community such as food pantries, shelters, job training facilities, and other assistance offices. Often times, community organizers have relationships with people who need help attaining work, switching roles and are trying to get back on their feet. Working locally by informing people on job opportunities, mentoring, internships, and even offering temporary positions can help recruiters discover new talent while also helping members of the community.
2. Is your application process widely accessible?
In this age of technology, the majority of all applications are available online to be filled out and submitted. And of course, being able to complete an application on a mobile device is a must, given that in 2020 61% of job seekers used their smartphone to job hunt and apply.
To be truly inclusive and equitable, however, organizations should account for accessibility to their job details and the ability to apply. In 2022, it’s hard to believe that someone might not be able to access the Internet. But the pandemic highlighted the lack of reliable Internet access in some communities across the U.S. and globally, creating a hindrance to work and school.
- Providing multiple methods to learn about and apply for a job is another course of action to increase inclusivity and to create an equitable recruitment and application process.
- Oral applications, in-person opportunities through job fairs and outreach programs, multiple language formats and ensuring that online formats meet accessibility standards increase opportunities for a more diverse candidate pool.
3. Are recruiters equipped with non-biased hiring protocols to address DE&I?
While recruiters and hiring managers have the best intentions at creating an equitable and fair process for candidate searches, vetting and interviewing, studies have shown that some traditional hiring methods established over decades may be deterrents to increasing DE&I in hiring due to unconscious bias and other factors. Recruiters should be supported with every tool at their disposal to help them build a diverse candidate pool and increase placements through training and practice. Invest in new technologies that are specifically geared towards DE&I initiatives. When diversity experts are helping organizations build their plans, carve out a significant portion dedicated to training recruiters and helping them uncover sourcing and hiring techniques that address unconscious bias and support DE&I goals. These areas can include:
- How job posts are worded
- Adjusting scope of qualifications
- Do’s and don’ts of interview questions and creating standardized interviews
- Expanding the location of searches
- Being mindful of flexibility and time constraints to provide the optimal times for discussions with potential candidates.
Employing practices in the workforce to increase DE&I is no longer a special project. It is something that should be woven into the fabric of an organization, as part of its mission and value statement. Having a workforce that reflects our communities, and exposes all of us to all people and the perspectives they bring exponentially increases innovation, improvements and inches us closer to creating work environments that fulfill and engage everyone.
The recruiting experts at SSi understand the importance of having many voices and viewpoints in an organization in order to attain true success. Contact us to today to build a hiring strategy that supports your DE&I mission.