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Tips for Making DEI an Authentic Part of Hiring

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is one of the most notable prevailing concepts in today’s human resources landscape. Companies are paying more attention to the makeup of their workforce and the degrees to which their policies and practices accommodate people of different races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, ages, religions, and myriad other cultural factors.

One area where DEI has emerged as a significant force for change is in a company’s hiring practices. To create a truly positive organizational change, DEI hiring efforts must be authentic — in both formation and execution.

Equitability in essence

Incorporating DEI into hiring frameworks isn’t just about slotting a few new application criteria into a job posting or inclusive questions into an interview format. For companies to embrace genuinely equitable hiring practices, there must be a systemic shift toward inclusivity. This is equally true for companies that handle hiring in-house, as well as those who work with talent placement firms.

So what exactly does it mean to create equitable opportunities? Companies serious about their DEI initiatives will make it part of their prime directive in prospecting, vetting, interviewing, hiring, welcoming, and retaining talent. To do that requires leadership buy-in, well-planned frameworks, honest standards, and — most importantly — contribution from underrepresented groups.

Ultimately, DEI must follow a single, immutable principle: to foster equitable access, not simply create diversity.

Transparent DEI hiring

How can companies take a more proactive approach to incorporating DEI into their hiring? They can begin by incorporating current best practices for creating equitability within hiring frameworks and for creating a culture of inclusion that welcomes all individuals qualified for the role they’re accepting:

  • Expand your talent pool. Today, more companies are turning to recruiting firms to expand their access to diverse talent. Recruiters not only reach more diverse groups, but also operate on inclusive vetting practices.
  • De-bias job postings. The language you choose either promotes or obstructs inclusivity. Companies must take a more neutral tone in writing job postings, removing gendered language wherever possible.
  • Anonymize resumes. Vetting candidates solely from a skill-based standpoint allows for an unbiased approach to talent scouting. Replace names with numbers to narrow the search, and get to know people based on merit.
  • Be specific. Hiring the best candidate for the job starts by clearly defining the skills, expectations, and requirements for that job. Ambiguity can lead to exclusion. Be specific and set clear expectations for applicants.

In addition to these transformative practices, it’s critical to have internal conversations surrounding DEI. What does it mean to your organization? How will you incorporate it into your standards and practices? Have you defined goals for equitable inclusion? For many organizations, the path to better DEI practices emerges from conversations about what DEI represents.

Inclusion from mindset to real change

Companies seeking to embrace DEI hiring practices can’t simply hope to incorporate them as part of a recruitment strategy. For these practices to be authentic, DEI needs to become a pillar of company culture.

“To me, equitable hiring is a true acknowledgment of what diversity can bring to the workplace, and then ensuring the hiring team is cultivating it through overall hiring practices. Equitable hiring evens the playing field for applicants by removing bias and discrimination from the present hiring system in use,” added Dave Holtzman, President of Search Solution Group’s Direct Hire Recruiting Division.

The right frame of mind is crucial. Again, it’s not about hiring merely to create diversity; it’s about tapping a larger talent pool to hire the best candidate for the job. A talent recruiter shouldn’t make allotments to hire certain groups — rather, their candidate pipeline should naturally include individuals from various identity groups because they are qualified for the job. And, by establishing DEI as a core tenet at the company level, organizations will find that more qualified candidates want to work for them.

A shift in thinking about who can do a job toward how they can do the job is often the first step in an inclusive direction. Don’t hire with a candidate’s face or personal profile in mind. Instead, seek out skills in an equitable way and welcome candidates for both who they are and what they can do.

The best person for the job

It’s in every company’s best interest to consider DEI factors when hiring and building teams. But simply hiring for diversity isn’t the right approach. Instead, employers must be mindful of their core objective to find qualified talent and build thoughtful systems for identifying, vetting, and hiring candidates regardless of their cultural attributes. When DEI starts as an empathetic mindset, it manifests in authentic action.

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