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Top 4 diversity recruiting strategies to achieve true D&I

Increased scrutiny from the public has caused employers to seek innovative diversity and inclusion strategies. Here's how to make sure your diversity recruiting strategies succeed.

A critical component of any diversity and inclusion effort is hiring. Yet achieving success in diversity hiring requires approaching those efforts in the right way.

This year has put a bright spotlight on workplace diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts. It's helpful to remember that this is a reawakening rather than starting from scratch. Many D&I leadership positions existed for decades. In addition, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- and its amendments -- has long prohibited employers from discriminating against employees and applicants on the basis of race, religion, sex, national origin, gender identity and sexual orientation. And the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Civil Rights Act of 1991 and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 have provided extended protections, as well as compensatory and punitive damages for about a decade.

However, the increased scrutiny from the public this year has motivated more employers to seek and implement innovative diversity and inclusion strategies, especially as it relates to recruiting.

Given today's climate, everyone in the hiring process needs to hold themselves to a higher standard. Many have good intentions when it comes to diversity recruiting strategies, but intention alone doesn't move the needle.

To that end, here are four diversity recruiting strategies that can help ensure D&I efforts are successful.

Reestablish trust in recruiters

Impact over intention is the key, and reestablishing and modeling trust for recruiters is the first step.

All too often, hiring managers and recruiters are at odds during the recruiting process. Hiring managers don't trust recruiters to find the best talent, and recruiters don't trust that hiring managers are committed to hiring with efficiency and efficacy.

Many of us have good intentions when it comes to diversity recruiting strategies, but intention alone doesn't move the needle.

Recruiters are key to successful diversity and inclusion efforts. They're expected to be key drivers in advancing diversity hiring goals and shaping the culture. It's unfair to put this responsibility on recruiters without also allowing them to have a say in shaping the diversity hiring strategies.

Leaders in the organization need to be trustworthy and show their commitment to diversity and inclusion. Recruiters need to be able to take a cue from leaders and model this same behavior to potential employees. Recruiters are the bridge between the hiring team and job seekers and they need to be treated as a trusted partner in the hiring process.

In addition, recruiters need to be trusted to be culture drivers. They control the candidate experience and set the tone for how potential employees relate to your organization. To ensure that recruiters are reflecting the brand and the desired organizational culture, all stakeholders need to focus on continuous improvement through training and team building.

Build relationships with diversity groups

When organizations attempt to attract diverse talent, relationship-building is critical; it's the foundation of recruiting. HR leaders and recruiters need to effectively build collaborative, sustainable, meaningful and mutually beneficial professional relationships in order to attract diverse talent.

The most successful diversity recruiting strategies build both high-touch and high-tech relationship-building in and outside of their organizations.

Many diversity recruiting strategies miss the mark because they don't audit and seek input from current employees who are members of underrepresented groups. By contrast, organizations that master meeting the needs of their current employees through internal transfers, mentorship programs and employee resource groups are then better-equipped to foster inclusion for their prospective employees.

Building relationships with a wider net of candidates, especially with underrepresented groups, starts before the hiring process begins. The organization's website, social media, job postings and current and former employee reviews shape the employer brand and tell the culture story. It's imperative that what's being projected reflects how leaders want the organization to be viewed.

Talent sourcing strategies matter as well. Diversity-focused job boards, third-party recruiters, professional and community organizations, universities and trade schools should all be a part of the diversity recruiting strategy.

In addition, community outreach and sponsorships have the potential to attract diverse talent that wouldn't otherwise have access to the opportunities at your organization.

Accountability is a critical component of any successful diversity recruiting strategy.

More organizations are working toward real change instead of simply giving lip service to diversity recruiting efforts. More organizations are being transparent about ways they can improve and are open to being uncomfortable and engaging in courageous conversations. These are critical components of diversity recruiting. Yet, without holding people accountable, true change is unlikely to happen.

Recruiters and stakeholders in the hiring process have to share the responsibility to make their hiring policies and procedures fair and equitable. Recruiters have to source and submit diverse talent, and hiring managers have to interview and advance diverse talent to the hiring stage. There must also be shared checks and balances so diverse talent is considered for a job and is offered salaries that are equal to their white male counterparts.

HR and recruiting should turn to data and metrics, which can offer insights on which diversity strategies are on track and where the organization can make improvements. Recruiting metrics should apply to both recruiters and those with hiring authority, and performance goals and objectives should have diversity components. In other words, there should be specific diversity hiring goals and objectives outlined in performance documents and rewards and consequences associated with those.

Take a proactive approach

To be successful, diversity recruiting should be proactive, not reactive.

Organizations should invest money in diversity efforts that are commensurate with the proven profitability of those initiatives. Too often, organizations employ one-and-done diversity hiring strategies, or they focus only on one demographic or only have short-term diversity hiring goals.

One of the ways many organizations measure employee satisfaction is through the success -- or failure -- of their employee referral program. A great long-term strategy is to use the referral program to increase diversity hiring. Organizations can offer added incentives that are aligned with the organization's diversity hiring goals.

The long-term goal is for diversity hiring to be embedded in the organizational culture. This begins with emphasizing the importance of diversity strategies to leadership and partnering with recruiting departments to implement them. It also requires implementing diversity recruiting across the organization, not just for one or two senior leadership positions or exclusively for entry-level or high-volume roles.

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