06/13/17 | Recruiting, Workplace

Building Diversity Into Your Hiring Process

As intent-driven and genuine as diversity and inclusivity efforts can be, they’ll fall flat if there isn’t a more thorough analysis of your hiring structure and your company structure. There are many points at which a diversity pipeline can drop off, and understanding how to minimize those drop offs will set you up for long-term success.

Assess your hiring trends to date.

What does diversity look like in your company right now? Do you have gender pay disparities in your current team? Did you not realize your entire tech team was male or white? Are you always hiring from the same pools of talent? Is your hiring team thinking about diversity right out of the gate? Are people aware that biases could exist without realizing it?

Make sure you know what you’re already doing and how your team currently stacks up in terms of inclusion and diversity. From there, you can identify where the holes are in your process and what improvements can be made moving forward. Here are some action items for you!

Wording and messaging do matter.

Usually a candidate’s first interaction with your company is the job description and employer branding, and these things have an impact! Even the way you word a job description can affect whom you attract as applicants.

Think critically about how you structure responsibilities and hiring criteria on your job description. Did you know that women will tend to not apply for a job if they think they don’t have every single desired skill listed for an open position, whereas men will apply even if they’re under qualified?

Do research on how your job descriptions will perform with certain groups (there are services out there to help you with this, like Textio and unitive.works) and have multiple people look at your role descriptions before they go out.

Review your hiring channels.

It’s easy to access candidate pools that you already know work—a particular recruitment platform or a team member’s alma mater—but what if they aren’t built to support your diversity goals?

Think more broadly about where you can get qualified candidates. Ask industry partners what they’re doing. Look outside your industry to see where certain universal roles are being sourced, such as tech talent.

There are several new platforms that give you access to larger, centralized pools of diverse talent. We’ve just launched Lane, a tech talent marketplace where you can go to find female developers, data scientists, product managers… you name it. Werk allows you to access senior level women who are looking for flexibility in the workplace and Power to Fly can help you find women who are able to work remotely.

Determine hiring criteria beforehand.

If your hiring team knows what they’re looking for before seeing résumés and before interviewing candidates — skills, experience level, etc — they can use this predetermined checklist to line up applicant qualifications as they come in. This almost forces a search committee to consider anyone that meets those qualifications regardless of their demographic makeups.

In creating a scorecard, you also make the hiring manager be very clear and conscious. If they actually do want to hire someone who’s worked for only top brands in the space, regardless of skills, they have to actually say that out loud, then agree to it, then write it down, then implement it (then even get it passed through HR). This creates multiple opportunities to identify a bias as it goes through at least an informal checks-and-balances process.

Consider the diversity of the hiring committee.

Is the team that’s hiring for an open position a good representation of what you want incoming to talent to look like? Studies show that having even one woman on the hiring team will increase the chance of a woman getting the position. It clearly matters who’s on the other side of the table and making decisions on behalf of an organization.

This is especially important if you have multiple steps to your hiring process, and multiple teams doing interviews. Remember we talked about those drop offs above? If even one of your hiring-round teams isn’t diverse, it’ll impact what the candidate pool looks like at the end, and could potentially thwart even the most genuine of diversity efforts.

Don’t stop with just one.

It’s not over just because you filled that role with your “token” diverse candidate. Cindy Gallup, Founder and CEO of IfWeRanTheWorld/MakeLoveNotPorn says three is the magic number to start making a real impact.

Having only one diverse employee you think fits the bill risks the employee feeling isolated and is a small enough signal that it won’t affect the status quo at all. Two isn’t enough to move the needle either. You need three to start seeing qualitative and quantitative impact.

Take a look at your culture.

JPMorgan Chase’s Global Head of Diversity, Patricia David, credits the long-term focus on company culture as one of the main drivers of success when it comes to hiring for diversity. “A company with a culture of diversity enables it to recruit the best people, refuels employees’ intellect, perspectives and ideas, and ensures that anybody who has the skills to work there is able to and feels like they fit,” she states.

Kate Brodock

Kate Brodock

Kate is the CEO of SWITCH and General Partner of the W Fund. She combines her operational experience in startups and her deep expertise on and central commitment to gender and representation in the startup ecosystem to position her as a leader on the creation and development of a more equitable future for our innovation economy.

Straight to your inbox.

The best content on the future faces of tech and startups.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



Join the Angel Sessions

Develop strategic relationships, build skills, and increase your deal flow through our global angel group and investing course.