Diversity Recruiting: A Guide to Building an Inclusive Workplace


Written By: Krissy Manzano


June 19, 2023

Time to Read: 3 Minutes

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, diversity recruiting isn’t just a moral imperative but a critical strategic move for companies seeking to thrive in the long run.

Diversity Recruiting at the Forefront of Social Change

We live in a time of significant social change and increased awareness of prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. As organizations become more aware of its benefits to the culture and the bottom line, many also struggle to meet diversification goals at the hiring stage because they fail to acknowledge the deep-rooted challenges that are holding them back. Those who fail to build more equitable workforces risk being left behind, losing the trust of their customers and employees, or being canceled altogether.

Diversity Recruiting Challenges

Numerous factors affect the implementation of a successful diversity and inclusion initiative in the workplace. We’ll focus on these four points that can contribute to systemic barriers at the hiring stage.

  • Unconscious Bias
    Unconscious bias refers to attitudes or stereotypes that are unconsciously and automatically formed in our minds, often based on societal and cultural influences. These biases can affect our perception, decision-making, and behavior towards individuals or groups without us even realizing it. Unconscious biases can be related to factors such as race, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, and other aspects of diversity. Think about this for a second. Have you ever hired someone based on “gut feeling”? Or moved a candidate through the interview process because you liked their name, or where they went to school, or because you felt the candidate was someone you could hang out with outside of work? If you answered “yes,” you’re likely hiring based on unconscious bias.
  • Lack of Understanding of the Different Forms of Diversity
    Many companies fail to see a broader picture of diversity. It goes beyond hiring more women or more people of color. It also means hiring people who differ in ablement, sexual and/or gender orientation, age, religious affiliation, or ethnic background. To effectively hire from underrepresented groups, avoiding a “one-size-fits-all” approach and tailoring strategies to specific diverse groups is essential.
  • Misconception That Hiring for Diversity Means Compromising Standards
    This idea assumes that candidates from underrepresented groups are not as qualified as those from more well-represented groups and that hiring them will compromise the company’s performance. This misconception is not only untrue, but it also perpetuates biases and undermines the efforts to build a diverse and inclusive workspace. In reality, candidates from diverse backgrounds can bring unique perspectives, experiences, and skills to enhance the company’s overall performance.
  • Lack of Long-term Plan to Support Diversity Initiatives
    Diversity recruiting is a long-term commitment beyond a diverse hiring strategy. Client organizations need a comprehensive long-term plan to support diversity initiatives and retain a diverse workforce. If diversity efforts stop at the hiring stage, retaining the diverse candidates that were hired can become difficult.

Advantages of a Diverse Workforce

A recent “Diversity Wins” study by McKinsey found that companies with more diverse workforces are more likely to outperform their less diverse peers. For example, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have financial returns that are above their industry median, while companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity were 35% more likely to do so.

A diverse workforce reflects our society and brings a wide range of perspectives, experiences, and ideas to the table. Companies can foster creativity, innovation, and better decision-making by implementing a solid diversity recruiting process. Moreover, creating a culture that values diversity can attract top talent and boost employee satisfaction and retention.

Here are some key points when it comes to the advantages of diversity in the workforce:

1. Reflecting Changing Demographics

As our society becomes more diverse, companies recognize the importance of creating a workforce that reflects the population it serves. By 2050, it’s estimated that the U.S. will be a “minority-majority” country, with non-Hispanic whites making up less than 50% of the population. This means that companies that fail to embrace diversity risk losing out on a significant portion of the market.

2. Enhancing Creativity and Innovation

Diverse teams are more creative and innovative. When individuals from different backgrounds and with different perspectives come together, they bring unique ideas and experiences that can lead to new and innovative solutions. In today’s rapidly changing world, innovation is more critical than ever, and companies that fail to innovate risk falling behind.

3. Making Better Decisions

Diverse teams make better decisions 87% of the time. When a team is comprised of individuals with different backgrounds and experiences, they are more likely to consider a broader range of viewpoints and make more informed decisions. In today’s complex and rapidly changing world, making informed decisions is critical to success.

4. Improving Employee Engagement and Retention

A more diverse workforce promotes a more inclusive workplace culture. When employees feel valued and included regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and productive. This can improve job satisfaction, employee retention, and, ultimately, better business outcomes.

5. Meeting Customer Expectations

Customers are increasingly looking for companies that reflect their values and priorities and that are committed to diversity and inclusion. In today’s digital age, consumers have more power than ever before to research and evaluate companies based on their ethical and social practices. Studies show that most consumers purchase based on a company’s social and environmental commitments. By prioritizing diversity recruiting, companies can build a more positive brand image and strengthen customer relationships.

Prioritizing Diversity Recruiting

Prioritizing workplace diversity requires a concerted effort by a company’s leadership and its employees. By establishing a clear commitment to diversity, actively recruiting and promoting diverse talent, creating an inclusive workplace culture, and measuring progress, companies can create a more diverse and inclusive workplace that benefits everyone.

So, how does one prioritize diversity recruiting? First, it’s imperative for company executives to identify what within their organization has to change. This includes recognizing any unconscious biases that may exist in the recruitment process, as well as acknowledging any gaps in representation in the current workforce.

From there, companies should establish a clear and formalized diversity policy, outlining their commitment to diversity and the steps to achieve it. On top of that, companies need to actively recruit and promote diversity, including establishing partnerships with organizations that promote diversity, targeting job postings to diverse candidates, and implementing diversity training programs for hiring managers.

However, it’s not enough to recruit and promote. Companies need to follow through, and it starts at the top with a diverse leadership team. This can be achieved by implementing programs to identify and develop diverse talent, setting diversity goals for leadership positions, and actively seeking out diverse candidates for these roles.

Another way to prioritize diversity in hiring is to create and encourage an inclusive workplace culture. This can include implementing work-life balance policies, providing employee feedback and input opportunities, and promoting an open and transparent communication culture.

5 Tips for Building a Diverse Workforce

In today’s business landscape, workplace diversity is essential for companies across various industries to succeed. To maintain a more diverse workforce in the coming years, it is crucial to adopt innovative strategies that promote inclusivity and support individuals from underrepresented groups, including women and people of color.

However, building a diverse workforce requires more than just posting a job opening on a career website. It requires a holistic approach that includes broadening recruiting sources, reviewing job descriptions, training hiring managers, implementing blind hiring practices, and fostering an inclusive culture.

Here are five hiring tips for building a diverse workforce:

1. Define Diversity

What does diversity hiring truly mean for your organization? Far too often, companies overlook this crucial step by hastily fixating on a single aspect where they perceive a deficiency, typically related to representative diversity, such as “we need more women.” However, diversity encompasses much more than mere representation, and it is vital to establish this understanding from the outset. By shifting the focus away from profiling individuals based on their appearance, the emphasis should instead be placed on recruiting the most qualified candidates who bring diversity in various dimensions, such as socioeconomic background and cognitive perspectives.

2. Create an Ideal Candidate Profile

This is essential in avoiding the perpetuation of hiring cycles that exclude diverse candidates. Before drafting the job description, take the time to carefully consider the competencies that are critical for success in the role. Identify the specific skills and behaviors required for the candidate to excel and thrive from day one. This proactive approach to defining the ideal candidate will help attract a more diverse pool of candidates and lead to a more successful hiring outcome.

3. Create Your Own Job Descriptions

Resist the temptation of looking for similar job descriptions or simply copying and pasting from others. This approach tends to reinforce unnecessary requirements that lack solid evidence and end up restricting diversity in the workplace, often leading to a lack of representation from diverse backgrounds. Use your ideal candidate profile to build out the requirements as a first step. Remember, your goal is to open the top of the funnel to be more inclusive, not limit it. This is a reminder that simplifying your requirements won’t produce mediocre candidates, so don’t be afraid to try it.

4. Train for All Interviewers

Deliver comprehensive interview training to equip all participants, including executives, board members, individual contributors, hiring managers, and others involved in the process, with the tools to make unbiased hiring decisions and raise awareness of any unconscious biases they may possess. This can help ensure they make objective decisions based on a candidate’s qualifications and fit with the company culture rather than their personal biases. This commitment to fairness is paramount in fostering an equitable hiring process and plays a pivotal role in proactively nurturing a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

5. Create an Interview Process With Tailored Questions

To ensure a successful hiring process, it’s important to go beyond just following a set of predetermined steps and conducting interviews with various team members. A tailored process that includes specific questions aimed at assessing the key competencies identified in your ideal candidate profile is crucial. Too often, interviewers ask the same generic questions at each stage and rely on an informal, unstructured approach. However, this approach doesn’t comprehensively evaluate the candidate’s overall suitability for the role. The key is to assess a specific part of the candidate’s profile at each stage and debrief after each interview. This approach makes it easier to determine if a candidate meets a specific competency rather than trying to assess all competencies in one go. Not only is this approach fair, but it also helps to eliminate unconscious bias from the hiring process.

At Blueprint, we have successfully implemented these five powerful hiring tips in the organizations we have led and recruited for. By diligently following these processes, we have consistently achieved two significant outcomes. First, we’ve successfully generated and hired diverse candidates, with 64% of the hires we’ve made or helped place representing diverse backgrounds. This has led to a more inclusive and representative talent pool. Secondly, our rigorous approach has resulted in impactful hires, ultimately contributing to an impressive candidate retention rate of 97%.

Workplace Diversity Recruitment in the Years to Come

While many companies have made strides in diversity over the last decade, there is still significant work to do. Promoting workplace diversity not only makes good business sense but it also has significant benefits for all employees.

Visionary business leaders recognize the importance of seeking innovative strategies to support a diverse pool of candidates and harness their unique talent while striving to provide inclusive workplaces that empower underrepresented groups so they can flourish and express their authentic selves. What is your company doing to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

Check out our Go-To-Market Interview Guide for the top five tips to implement a diversity hiring plan.