5 actionable tips for DEIB recruiting

Countless research shows that diverse teams are better-performing. Harvard Business Review has demonstrated that what’s good for diversity is good for organizational performance. And according to global talent solutions firm Allegis Group, a diverse workforce and inclusive culture is one of the most in-demand asks from candidates. That’s important to recognize, since we all know how competitive it is to attract talent right now.

As the co-founder of a recruiting software platform Searchlight.ai, I have a lot of conversations with people and talent leaders. What’s become clear is that creating a diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) strategy is a top priority for any company that hopes to be competitive. Many of these businesses are turning to recruiting as the place to start moving the needle on diversity.

In the words of Michael Kieran, Operator Collective LP and head of talent at Tray.io, “Recruiting is the front line where we can make the most impact on diversity. It’s our responsibility and a privilege to put DEI strategy in place and then tactically execute to improve what hiring practices look like.”

Read on for five actionable recruiting tips that will bring you closer to your DEIB goals.

1. Set one data-driven target at a time

Being focused is critical to changing behavior quickly. At Tray.io, Kieran says he cuts through the noise by choosing a main single target to aim at. His current metric focus is the percentage of the employee base that is non-male and non-white.

Be data-driven when crafting your diversity targets and customize them based on your company’s customers and mission. Zapier’s recruiting operations lead, Supreet Hundal, recommends investing in data hygiene and talent analytics software to measure demographic numbers. “Without data, it’s hard to know where we actually are against where we should be,” Hundal shared. “But with benchmarks, we can create targets and align on which groups to partner with, [and] which communities to invest money in.”

2. Define candidate success criteria based on competencies and capabilities

Jeff Diana, chief people officer at Calendly and former recruiting leader at Atlassian, says, “One of the fundamental truths about human psychology is that we’re drawn to people who look like us. We also know that organizations today are not diverse, especially in leadership. So it’s a fact that, despite our best efforts, there’s already all kinds of bias in our organizations.”

One way to counter these natural biases is to define objective, competency-centric hiring criteria. “Defining success criteria is key to successful hiring – period,” Diana says. “Getting scientific on the capabilities that make people successful at our organization helps us avoid screening people out on superficial attributes.”

3. Reinforce fair and consistent evaluation methods

While at Google, SVP of People Operations Laszlo Bock found that interviews were not actually that predictive of future performance. Recruiting teams need to get creative and look for new ways to accurately assess which candidate is the best fit for the job based on the objective success criteria set in step two.

“We must use frameworks and rubrics to keep our ratings consistent,” John Foster, chief people officer at Truecar, says. “Using a disciplined, pre-defined set of factors with clear definitions will result in less biased decisions and more objectivity. It will allow us to overcome gut instincts with numbers and science.”

One way to counteract subconscious bias is to corroborate what the candidate highlights in their resume and interviews with their prior on-the-job contributions. LinkedIn reports that reference checks can make your interview process more predictive. When reference data is compared with resume screens and interviews, hiring teams can confirm or disprove assumptions from interview feedback.

Some tips for fair and consistent evaluation include holding structured interviews, building diverse hiring panels, leveraging talent software, training interviewers, and building reinforcing mechanisms into your process.

4. Actively source from historically excluded communities, don’t rely on inbound

Once you’ve set your candidate success criteria and evaluation process, you’re ready to screen your pipeline. But the resume screening process for inbound applicants is often rife with inconsistencies that can lead to discrimination. By investing in outbound sourcing, you’ll have an ethical path to getting more diverse candidates into your funnel.

Sourcing is also a great way to remove barriers that have traditionally faced underrepresented groups. To bolster this strategy, experts recommend tapping into new sourcing channels, nurturing relationships with communities that work with historically excluded groups, and investing in software to support your sourcing strategy.

5. Tackle post-hire metrics together – especially quality of hire

“Sometimes recruiting is silo’d from the rest of HR, but that’s the craziest thing ever,” Diana believes. “You have to cross over to HR and see which candidates are actually successful. If recruiting doesn’t measure post-hire outcomes like quality-of-hire, you can’t show the positive impact that increasing diversity has on the business.”

Quality-of-hire (QoH) measures the value a new hire adds to your company, and gives recruiting teams data-backed answers around which candidates become top performers and which skills and competencies are predictive of performance during the interview process. Yet, how to properly track QoH is a long-standing debate amongst recruiting and HR leaders given the difficulties in effectively measuring it.

Despite this history, QoH is powerful for increasing DEIB for two reasons. First, it can scientifically show the benefits of hiring diverse talent. Secondly, by understanding which competencies and skills predict on-the-job experience, teams avoid over-indexing on prestige markers and familiar credentials. It’s not surprising that nearly 40% of talent acquisition leaders list tracking QoH as their top priority.

DEI is DNA

Brandon Sammut, chief people officer at Zapier, says, “DEI is DNA.” The world’s leading companies know this to be true, but making a sea change takes time. I believe that the quickest path to action is to embrace the reality that all humans have biases. Designing recruiting systems with the five core elements I’ve shared can create an engine for faster, fairer diversity outcomes.

Anna Wang is the co-founder and CTO of Searchlight, a critical piece of talent software for companies serious about hitting their diversity targets and increasing talent density.

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