Diversity Hiring With Integrity

Integrity is Crucial To Proper Diversity Hiring

Having strong integrity in all hiring practices and decisions is, of course, integral to building a great company. Be sure that your hiring practices take measures to actively and with sincerity pursue diversity in your staff. Our society has shaped the hiring world to largely focus on white/cis/hetero men, in particular in our industry. This often makes the “usual” channels less approachable from an employer and employee standpoint when seeking a genuinely diverse pool. So, what can you do as an employer who is white/cis/hetero/male to not only reach but be deserving of hiring pools? How do you ensure you’re safe for LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, Disabled, and Veteran communities to reach out?

We spoke with Executive HR professional, Mary Margaret Willoughby to get some sound advice. The first thing she pointed out was that, while it’s important to speak to HR professionals, we also need to work with a diversity consultant. A diversity consultant is educated on the specific topic of diversity hiring.

If you are a small start-up that doesn’t have a budget for a consultant, we hope this blog can provide some guidance. We want you to take charge of making your hiring practices anti-racist, anti-ableist, anti-phobic of LQBTQAI+, pro-veteran, and truly pro-diversity.

Where to Seek Diverse Employees

A go-to practice for agencies like ours would normally be to head right to the Drupal job boards and LinkedIn. However, it’s time to be more focused and specific with our employee and contractor staffing. Admittedly, we are still a start-up and haven’t yet hired BIPOC/Disability/Veteran/LGBTQAI+ diversity consultant. However, we gleaned a lot of great advice from our interview with Mary Margaret Willoughby, the aforementioned HR Executive. This includes the need to hire such consultants! Their value is clearly astronomical.

One of the things we took away was that it’s time to stop waiting for diverse employees to come to us if we’re posting in all of the same “old places”. It’s our job to do the work and put in the effort, so you as an employer need to seek these spaces out, too. It’s like the old joke about the fella who prays over and over again to win the lottery and then god finally says “you need to at least buy a ticket if you want me to help!” *drum sound effect*. I think the point is clear, you can’t wait for amazing employees to fall into your lap, you need to work for it. Below we broke down a list of websites with job boards and diversity resources to help with some of that. Remember, there is more to be done than simply seeking out these job boards, but this is a solid step.

List of Diversity Hiring Job Boards

Some Advice About Diversity Hiring

Upon interviewing HR Executive Mary Margaret Willoughby (SPHR, SHRM-SCP Principal) for this blog, she provided a ton of helpful tips including the information at the top of this blog. We believe this information can also help in guiding your actions as employers to ensure all of your hiring practices and overall company culture are safe and approachable for all potential employees.

One thing is for sure, she really drives home the point that any agency wishing to have diversity in their staff has to put in the work and that it is a beyond worthy (and overdue) expenditure of energy. A huge part of this effort is expanding your network, building relationships, and subsequently finding a cohesive and broad referral network. In other words, you can’t keep reaching into the same pools that are dominated by non-disabled/white/cis men and expect to find a diverse blend of talent. Below are some steps you can take to start working on this network.

1.) Make a list of the populations you can draw from for in-office or virtual interviews. Start by doing the following:

  • If your company is doing in-person interviews, do research and personal inventory as to what would attract a diverse pool of candidates to your area.
  • Whether you’re seeking in-office or remote employees, think of what your company culture attracts. Be critical, and examine why your company culture has been staffed without diversity. (This is another reason hiring a diversity consultant is crucial.)
  • Do demographic research and gain an understanding of the whole community with a focus on the more marginalized populations. Don’t do this with a mindset of “charity”, it’s not – you are seeking strong and worthy job candidates, and doing so “outside of the stereotypical box” does not make you a hero. Be earnest.

2.) Create a list of potential destinations for recruitment to engage diverse candidates. Schools, societies, collectives, et al. For example:

  • Explore specifically historically Black colleges and universities, as well as Women’s, Indigenous, and Latinx serving collegiate institutions. 
  • Inside of this, it is also good to try and connect with fraternities and sororities with predominantly minority members. Dig around your current network – do you have friends in the field that may know someone in these fraternities or sororities? Will they connect you, and moreover, have you done the work for them to feel safe connecting you?
  • Within these schools, work to connect with department heads and professors (not college career centers) by calling/emailing to set up meetings to state your intentions honestly and clearly. Building these relationships helps build trust so you do not come off predatorily.

Tap into professional organizations and tell them what you are trying to accomplish. For example, the Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers, Lesbians Who Tech, and Vets Who Code are just a few resources.

3.) Use technology to be present across many communities. For example: 

  • Use LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook hashtags to find and join multiple community spaces (where you are welcome). You can find great resources through hashtags such as #HireBlack, #LatinxInTech, and #LesbiansWhoTech. Then, dig into those groups, and react to posts and discussions from a standpoint of learning and honesty. Avoid being a “let me explain something to you” person in the room. Equally, do not ask a lot of questions that would require any emotional labor, do that learning on your own time. Just remember, you aren’t a leader in these communities, you are an ally, a supporter, and a pupil. 

4.) Look beyond “traditional” college and university degrees. For example:

  • Coding boot camps such as the Grace Hopper Program at Fullstack Academy, Skillcrush, DesignLab, CareerFoundry, Flatiron, and Black Girls Code are a few great ones.
  • Vocational and trade school programs are also an incredible place to find talent.

Now is a good time to remind our readers that truly improving your diversity hiring involves more than just sourcing underrepresented groups. It is crucial to look at what you can do to improve your company culture so you are more approachable to candidates from all walks of life, speaking again to company culture.

Why is Hiring a Diverse Staff Important?

Apart from the most obvious reason being that it is long overdue – the value of having vastly different backgrounds, opinions, upbringings, and overall life experiences is beyond valuable. Speaking of values, remember you are hiring based on the true value of a candidate’s merit and skill – not to check a proverbial box.

Based on pure empirical evidence, it is apparent that diverse personalities, backgrounds, and mindsets lead to stronger innovation potential. Anyone can read stats upon stats that exemplify this with a quick Google search. You can also find with a quick swing through Google, that companies rife with affinity bias have stifled innovation. Think about the last time you walked into or passed an Apple Store. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a single location that doesn’t have a diverse staff in all ways from age to ethnicity, disabilities, sexuality, and gender. There is no arguing that the Apple Store business model has made an impact on the entire retail industry and they are not shy about why –  diversity lead ingenuity.

So, apart from systemic racism, how do companies end up with a staff that could all end up on the same “23 and me” DNA results? Bias. There are just so many biases’ unfairly rooted in our society. Affinity bias gets a lot of companies into trouble and is often the fault of over-focusing on “company culture fit”. By focusing on culture fits, companies often start thinking about personality and group fits, which generally leads to a lack of diversity by way of unconscious (and often totally conscious) stereotyping. Just another reason to take a step back and critically look at your culture and hiring practices. Start by having a hard and honest look at your bias’ so you can refocus hiring that is based on true value.

Happy Hiring!

We hope this blog has provided some helpful ways to get started on undoing your conscious and unconscious bias when it comes to hiring, and really, life as a whole. There is work to be done, and the work is more than worth doing for the sake of an elevated staff and client experience, and really, for the betterment of society. If you’ve got something to contribute we’d love to hear it, we’re still learning, too!

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