7 Things You Can Do to Recruit Women of Color
How many times have you heard an organization or recruiter say, “There simply aren’t enough [insert ethnic group here] in the talent pool?” This myth needs to be retired. Decades of Catalyst research has shown that systemic biases are baked into the recruitment and hiring process.
There are good reasons to tackle this bias. Companies that prioritize creating more diverse and inclusive environments, including hiring women of color, find reduced turnover and better business results.
A comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategy requires action to create equity in the hiring process. Suggestions such as removing names from resumes are definitely a start, but what else can you do to ensure you’re recruiting and hiring the most diverse candidate pool possible?
- Start with the job description: Job descriptions need to be crafted so that they are applicable to all people. For example, avoid stereotypically masculine terms in your job descriptions (e.g., competitive). Instead, use language that welcomes all applicants by focusing solely on the objective job requirements. By checking for bias embedded in your processes for screening résumés, interviewing applicants, and extending offers, you can widen your pool and create a culture of diversity in all stages of hiring.
- Show don’t tell: Do an audit of your website, social channels, and marketing materials. Are the images diverse? Do you showcase employees of all races, genders, and ethnicities? Is your language inclusive? Do you have programs that support diversity, such as parental leave, flex time, and floating holidays? Diverse employees are coming to your site and want to see people that look like them. Make it clear that they will be welcome, valued, and that they belong.
- Require diverse slates: What gets measured gets done. So, make it a mandate that candidate slates for all open positions include two or more qualified women as well as two people from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups. Research shows that requiring only one candidate of any underrepresented group is the same as having none because they’re seen as different, and decision-makers are often reluctant to break from the status quo.
- Remove bias from the interview process: Evaluate every candidate consistently and reduce the impact of unconscious bias on decision-making by implementing structured interviews to standardize the interview process. Structured interviews focus on core skills and competencies that are highlighted in the job description and that are necessary to excel in the role. Interviewers should score each candidate immediately after the interview and then compare candidates horizontally or by the answer provided to each question or competency.
- Flip the script: Statements such as “we are color-blind in this office,” or “you are so articulate,” or “you speak English so well” in an effort to highlight a strength of your workplace culture or an individual can unintentionally be harmful or offensive. Instead, ask potential candidates about what type of work environment they would find most supportive. When giving feedback, provide concrete examples of why and how you felt a candidate excelled. For example, “Your presentation was inspiring and aligned with our business goals very well.” Being intentional in how you communicate with candidates means recognizing that our words matter and helps to create inclusive environments where people are valued and can belong.
- Tap your employee resource groups: If you want to recruit more Black women employees, for example, ask employees who belong to a related ERG for referrals for open positions. Many people would be pleased to be asked; it means their opinion is valued by the organization. ERGs can also help develop targeted recruitment material for college fairs and social media.
- Fix the leaky pipeline: Don’t forget about women of color once they’re hired. Take a hard look at your attrition rates. This task can seem daunting, yet you don’t need to fix all your metrics at once. Find the biggest “leak” and focus on addressing that first.You can also do an internal survey and of course, dig into exit interviews to see where patterns emerge. Be sure to evaluate your metrics across intersections of identity (e.g., race/ethnicity and gender). Be granular in your approach. Don’t overlook what your numbers say about your work environment if the numbers are too small to evaluate—recognize that you may have identified a part of the problem.
What are some ways your organization has focused on expanding its talent pool to include more women of color? We’d love to hear what’s worked for you on our discussion boards.