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Hiring for Diversity

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

Diversity is always on the radar when it comes to hiring practices, especially for larger companies. There are three main reasons for this.

First, hiring for diversity does social good. It raises the dialogue about racism and sexism and attempts to solve some of the serious inequalities we still suffer in this country.

Second, it’s the law. While this can be frustrating to some people, there are mandates in place that assure that all companies are hiring for skill and not using personal bias when making hiring decisions.

Third, and most importantly, it’s good for your business. It’s been proven over and over again that diverse workplaces are more innovative, more creative, and get more done. A study by McKinsey & Co. showed that:

  1. The companies in the top quartile of ethnic diversity were 30% more likely to have financial returns that were above their national industry median (and 15% for companies in the top quartile of gender diversity).
  2. Organizations with three or more women in their senior management teams had higher average scores on measures of organizational excellence than teams with no women. Scores increased significantly once critical mass was reached at about one-third women.

So, how do you bring more talented people in to interview from all backgrounds? Here are a few tips.

What is Your Public Image?

If you are struggling to hire millennials, your company’s reputation as a diversity-focused employer matters. Millennials value diversity and you should be focusing on the way your company comes across in all your public facing interfaces. If the photos on your website are all white males, you are communicating to possible job seekers that your company is homogenous and one note. This is also true if your representatives at job fairs or at conventions are all white males.

Looking for a job is stressful, and it makes people feel quite vulnerable. If someone from a minority group sees that your company is mostly white males, they won’t feel comfortable even beginning the process of applying. Even before you make contact, you have lost that potentially valuable employee.

Test Your Biases

Before you open a job position, check your biases. We all have them. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed. It’s part of our cognitive processes to build preconceptions about people. But, in the workplace, it’s important to be aware of our biases and try to ignore them. Because, let’s face it, even with all our preconceived ideas about people, we are surprised all the time when they act differently than we expected. Opening up our minds and rejecting our previous biases leads to excellent and diverse hires.

Take the Implicit Association Test. Most of the time, we don’t even know that we are biased or prejudiced. Knowing the groups that you might have built prejudices against can help you avoid unbalanced hiring.

Consider Redacted Resumes

After you have researched your own biases, you might be in a good position to review resumes as they come in and determine whether you want to redact them.

What does this mean? If you work with a hiring team, take the resume and black out the parts that would give away the race, gender, sexual orientation or religion of the candidate. If the name of the candidate implies that they are African American or Muslim or female, this may be a bias that people within your hiring team have. Leave only the information that relates to experience, and you may be surprised at the results. The statistics on hiring are surprising, finding that identical resumes, with only different names, get much different results from recruiters and hiring managers.


While hiring for diversity has been perceived as just added work load for those who are in charge of hiring, it’s important work. Just as you would put extra time into a background check or looking into references, put this time into hiring the right way. Society and your bottom line will thank you.