More than words: how can you make D&I a genuine part of your 2022 recruitment strategy?

Diversity and inclusion are two words that we hear a lot in the world of recruitment. However, when the market is so competitive, and all businesses are fighting for tech talent, do diversity efforts remain a priority or is it just about filling the roles and business continuity?

In 2020, we all wanted to prioritise diversity and inclusion, but then, no one could have predicted the challenging talent market we now have. Candidates hold a lot of the power and have their choice of employers; diverse candidates like female developers are even more in demand and therefore have even more options at their disposal. When you need to recruit a large number of roles quickly in such a fierce market, your D&I efforts likely fall by the wayside, and hiring managers maintain that this is a promise they will pick up again when things are calmer and attracting talent is easier.

However, the market isn’t slowing down, and more importantly, candidates have come to expect diverse organisations; non-inclusive companies will struggle to attract talent in this new era of work.

So, how can organisations ensure that D&I is a real part of their 2022 recruitment strategy and pave the way for more diverse hires in the future? We’ve outlined seven tips:

1. Start at the top

Making a push for diversity begins with clearly articulating what you stand for as an organisation and getting buy-in from your executives. Diversity efforts have always been a “nice to have” for businesses, but the CEOs and the chief diversity officers are realising the importance of a more diverse workforce, especially with changing attitudes and cultures across the globe. So, the lights have been turned on, and now it’s time for CEOs to ensure organisations follow through. Therefore, diversity at work is becoming much more than just a rogue promise, but rather something executives see as a “must-have”. 

If the boardroom and c-suite are committed to diversity, it will trickle down throughout the organisation; change comes from the top. Therefore, it’s vital that you get buy-in from your leadership team if you wish to engrain these values into your EVP and ensure they’re followed throughout the organisation.

2. Align your strategy to D&I goals

Firstly ask yourself, are your D&I goals and initiatives achievable for talent acquisition? Then consider how to make them attainable. Find a way to ensure these goals are apparent throughout the organisation and implement talent acquisition strategies to support them. For example, if your goal is to hire 10% more diverse sales professionals, then there needs to be a clearly articulated D&I strategy to go along with that which is known and implemented. Recruiters do not hire based on diversity; they look for talent. Therefore, to ensure these goals are met across the business, you need to refine recruitment strategies to reach out to more diverse talent pools and networks of candidates rather than looking in the same places for talent. Digital talent attraction can help you reach wider audiences, promote your employer brand, and advertise specific roles.

3. Review Your Hiring Practices 

From interviewing to job advertisements, making a real push for diversity and inclusion often comes down to looking at things in a different way than you previously have. Reviewing all elements of the candidate experience and your hiring process is a great place to start. Small changes like ensuring interview panels accurately represent your workforce or auditing job advertisements for bias terminology and language can significantly affect the hiring process. If you’re relying heavily on automations and algorithms within the hiring process, make sure you have human intervention to check for potential biases that could be at play; never assume technology is completely fair. Having an RPO provider or external source look at your hiring process can help you to identify areas of potential bias

4. Communicate diversity in your employer brand

In a remote work environment, candidates can’t come into the and say, “I feel like I belong here, I see people that represent me,” and so it’s harder to showcase you’re an inclusive organisation. So, within your employer brand communications and recruitment marketing materials, you’ll have to work harder to represent your entire workforce. In addition, your social media and careers sites are going to become key places to showcase your commitment to diversity and inclusion, showing potential candidates that you have an inclusive company culture. To do this, you must tell stories from a range of employees across the business. Include a range of employees in your imagery and marketing materials to show the range of ages, genders, ethnicities and even disabilities within your organisation. However, be aware of tokenism, don’t show anything that isn’t genuine as you will be called out on this and don’t keep using the same employee just because they happen to be female.

If you don’t have diverse stories, then broadcast your commitment to diversity in other ways by showing the specific benefits you offer or organisations you help; it’s about vocalising your pledge so that candidates can see your seriousness. That commitment has to be the thread that goes through everything you do. It would be disingenuous to say, “we celebrate belonging, inclusion and diversity,” if it’s not at every touchpoint within the company. It’s not just about hiring diverse talent; it’s about having a diverse ecosystem that supports diversity across all parts of the business.

Gathering these stories, finding causes to support and creating marketing materials will take time, but showing your authentic commitment to D&I is worth it.

5. Hiring managers to be a bit more flexible

We’re currently in the middle of a tech talent shortage, which means that it’s the perfect time for hiring managers to think outside of the box. When there’s not enough of the same types of people you would usually hire, such as university graduates, there’s an opportunity to educate your hiring managers and push them to be a bit more flexible. Does tech talent need a traditional degree in today’s tech-first culture? Probably not. Does your team need to live a commutable distance from the office? Not in the world of remote working! With a talent shortage and a huge change in attitudes towards working, there’s never been a better time to be a bit more flexible with your idea of the perfect candidate. This means opening up to broader talent pools, experimenting with digital attraction and other recruitment techniques to reach these candidates.

6. Get involved in external initiatives 

There are many initiatives running to help get more diversity into STEM careers, such as the tech industry locally and nationally. If you genuinely wish to prove your commitment to diversity, it’s a great idea to get involved, especially if your team isn’t yet diverse enough to demonstrate your commitment. You could run your own events or reach out to organisations to see if they need sponsorship or help with placements and mentorships for participants. You could run a boot camp for women, meetups for tech leaders of colour or LGBTQ tech leaders to help bring more diversity into your tech board. You could also reach out to universities to help provide opportunities to a diverse range of students. There are many possibilities, and with so many initiatives and organisations around, it’s easy for businesses to find something that fits their values and mission. This activity will help improve your employer brand in the eyes of both candidates and employees. 

7. Don’t be afraid to question

Finally, you should constantly be measuring whether you have a diverse candidate slate and workforce. And if you don’t, you need to ask why. Is it something to do with your employer brand that is deterring a range of candidates from applying? Is your hiring process or screening process biased? Or do your competitors have the edge when it comes to diversity? Getting to the bottom of the problem is the first step to solving it. You need to empower recruiters, employees and hiring managers to identify an issue and ensure that they question it. Ensure that recruiters and talent advisors feel comfortable enough to say, “Something feels funny here. So what are you basing this decision on? Why are you saying no?”. Ensure you talk to employees regularly about your EVP and employer brand to identify ways to be more inclusive to all. No organisation can be perfect, so identifying issues in the hiring process or within your employer brand and asking the right questions is a great way to ensure you improve your D&I efforts.

Diversifying your workforce in a competitive talent market isn’t an easy task, but by implementing some of these actions and taking an honest look at your existing practices, you may be able to lay the ground for diversity and inclusion in the future.

Talent Works are an RPO provider helping tech businesses of all sizes to attract top talent. We use employer branding, direct sourcing, and digital attraction to reach diverse talent pools and find the talent needed to scale from startups to larger enterprises. 

To find out more about how we can help your organisation reach talented people, contact us