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May 6, 2024 How To

How to recruit with DEI in mind

Hiring a diverse workforce requires conscious effort, thoughtful conversations and ongoing education. It’s about much more than ticking boxes or reaching quotas. In today’s dynamic work environment, instituting inclusive principles and practices into recruiting and retaining employees is a constant evolution.

Photo / Courtesy, The Jackson Laboratory
Moses Davis is director of diversity, equity and inclusion at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor.

This task may seem daunting, and just saying that you want to do it isn’t enough. But it is achievable with a commitment to the putting in the work and maintaining an open mind.

In my role at the Jackson Laboratory, I like to say, “Do diversity with love.” Do what you do because you love to do it. The rest will follow. This principle is incredibly important for hiring managers who are the first line when it comes to attracting new employees.

There are specific tools that help ensure DEI practices are part of recruitment efforts, as outlined below. But first and foremost, incorporating these practices into an organization’s overall culture is crucial to creating an environment where a diverse workforce can thrive.

Some of my top tips for both hiring managers and workplaces as a whole are to: call people “in” vs. calling them “out;” develop “both and” instead of “either/or” thinking; acknowledge your organization’s current statistics, and if applicable, assert that you want to do better; admit when you make a mistake and apologize; and remember that just because you don’t understand someone’s preferences or lifestyle, doesn’t mean those things don’t matter. You can provide a person everything they need in the workplace without fully understanding their circumstances.

Organizations must strive to be the change they wish to see, reflecting their commitment to diversity in every aspect, from hiring practices to marketing messages. Above all, maintain an open mind, check your judgment at the door, and let your curiosity lead the way. By questioning traditional practices, acknowledging biases, and embracing inclusivity at every level, organizations can build teams that reflect the diverse world we live in, driving innovation, inclusion and success.

Here are some key strategies for integrating DEI principles into recruiting.

Recognize implicit bias: Hiring managers should acknowledge and address implicit bias, which refers to the attitudes and prejudices we unconsciously hold about people or groups. Be aware of biases related to names, origins or other characteristics and approach candidates with curiosity rather than judgement.

Assess interview practices: Evaluate interview questions for potential bias or exclusionary language. Avoid making assumptions about candidates based on factors like education or employment history.

Review job descriptions, salaries and the company website: Even small words make a difference. What does your organization’s online narrative say about it as a workplace? Does your website present a vision where a wide range of individuals — whether they are a new parent, gay, a remote worker or neurodivergent — can thrive? Scrutinize job descriptions for inclusive language to ensure that they do not unintentionally exclude certain groups. Conduct salary research to address pay disparities and ensure fair compensation practices.

Provide continuous training and development: Recognize that DEI training is an ongoing process, especially crucial for talent acquisition roles. Stay informed about evolving best practices.

Recognize the need to offer more than a paycheck: Emphasize the holistic benefits of joining your organization beyond financial compensation, including reimagining the workday. Adapt to the realities of remote work by considering flexible work arrangements and allow for remote participation and flexible hours to attract and retain a diverse workforce. Create a workplace environment that prioritizes mental and physical well-being, fostering true inclusion and employee happiness.

Incorporating DEI into your organization’s recruiting practices requires a culture of openness and adaptability. Hiring managers should always encourage questions, be willing to explore alternative ideas and stay nimble in this ever-changing landscape. Keep an open mind and keep learning. When you know better, you do better.

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Robert Poston
May 10, 2024

“It’s about much more than ticking boxes or reaching quotas.”

This is illegal discrimination and they don’t care.

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