Evaluating Workplace Diversity is More Than a Numbers Game

June 2, 2015 at 12:26 PM by Kathleen de Lara

hiring for diversity

Take a look in the mirror lately?

New hiring trends and initiatives have quickly emerged in the past five years – using tools and data to drive recruiting, catering to the ever-enigmatic Generation Y (endearingly named Millennials), and improving workplace diversity.

In the past year, some of the country’s largest tech companies released their diversity reports – many of them boasting a “largely white and male” workforce. What’s to say for other industries?

The immediate reaction for hiring teams may be to ramp up their own diversity initiatives, expanding their talent pool requirements, modifying job descriptions, and fine-tuning their employer brand to attract a wider set of candidates.

On the pie chart of a company’s makeup, it’s not just about getting an even split. If your team is still wary on spending extra resources to create a more diverse identity, read on.

Relying heavily on employee referrals can hurt your company culture.

Employee referrals have been long cited as one of the least costly channels for long-term, skilled talent – but hire with caution. Focusing too much on referrals as a source for candidates can perpetuate a homogenous team and culture. Employees are likely to refer people who are like them, and this is especially risky for smaller teams who set the mold for the talent funnel and new hires to come. Track the ratio of hires coming in from referrals to hires from sourcing. Anywhere between 35%-55% is a healthy rate, according to Entelo Head of Talent Vivek Reddy.   

A diverse team builds stronger connections with customers and candidates.

…and everyone else. If you want to propel an employer brand that engages a wider talent pool, the company’s inner circle needs to reflect who you want to attract. Starting out, that may likely not be one of the company’s strengths, so in tandem with building diversity hiring momentum, look to the team now and make sure their expectations are lining up with what the company is giving them and will continue to offer.

The cultural disconnect in communication is largely understated as one reason people fail to build solid relationships, whether that’s between employers and employees, or a company and the public. When your team comes from a variety of backgrounds because of where they’re from, what they’ve done, how they perceive others, and make sense of their experiences, the company as a whole understands how to communicate with larger audiences – not limited to prospective customers, but candidates, too.

Taking on diversity initiatives early on can drive a diverse, future executive team.

Go through any company’s Team page, and if you’re lucky, you’ll come across a list of photos and bios of the exec team. Nothing’s more cringeworthy than a company’s broadcasted monotony. Building a talent funnel and team of diversified people sets the standard for your management team to come and consequently, motivates inspires the development and retention of the people they have now.

Your company becomes a model for others to follow suit.

There’s a proclaimed crisis in workplace diversity charging much of the restructured hiring processes of companies like Google, Intel, and Pinterest. Consider one of Silicon Valley’s most followed court cases – Ellen Pao suing her former employer, investment firm Kleiner Perkins, for gender-based discrimination. Ultimately, while Pao lost the case, the trial drew attention to the Valley’s flawed internal cultures, ironically outpaced by its reputation as the headquarters for tech innovation. “Pao succeeded in becoming a symbol of Silicon Valley’s sometimes sexist culture and lack of diversity,” wrote Time Magazine. Small or larger, diverse companies lead by example. (In the next five years, can "diversity hiring" just be called "hiring"? Pipe dream?) 

Diversity yields innovation and higher productivity.

This is no new tale. Studies tell us having a team comprised of people coming from a variety and range of genders, ages, backgrounds, and work experiences ultimately brings companies higher revenue. Beyond the dollar signs, fostering a culture where different perspectives and communication styles are adapted and welcomed encourages teams to take lead and discuss ideas, rather than taking the backseat to a work environment that is, by default, charged by a “strength in numbers” mentality. 

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post, and we'll weigh in on the latest on Google's diversity numbers. In the meantime, check out
Why Diversity Hiring Builds Stronger Teamsour discussion with Box Senior Manager of Tech Recruiting, Sarah Lovelace, in which she shares her techniques for hiring the company's renowned team of diverse tech talent.


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