Diversity is one of the hottest buzzwords in corporate culture for a reason. Diversity is an opportunity to not only improve performance, become more creative, and ultimately to make higher profits but more importantly, to expand your team to include multiple skills sets, talents and outlooks. It’s casting a bigger net to find qualified people who happen to bring different backgrounds and perspectives to your business. Big companies have whole teams to help recruit diverse and talented people, but small companies can achieve the same goals with a little thought, a little hard work, and some self-reflection. If you’re wondering how to recruit a diverse workforce, read on.
What We’re Talking About When We Say A Diverse Workforce
Speaking about race, disabilities, ethnicity, and gender can be touchy subjects in business. We get it. We’re going to define the two types of diversity we’ll be talking about in this article. They are inherent diversity and acquired diversity. Understanding these terms will help you to learn how to recruit a diverse workforce.
- Inherent diversity refers to traits that people are born with. These are traits like ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and race. When you want to add more women to your staff, you’re thinking about adding inherent diversity to your company.
- Acquired diversity refers to traits that people gain from experience. For example, if you hire someone who lived in Italy and learned the language, something that could be valuable for a company that does business in Rome, then you are adding acquired diversity to your staff.
Successful companies understand that both kinds of diversity are needed to maximize business potential fully. After a New York Times article showed that a black customer and a black employee at JPMorgan Chase did not receive the same treatment as their white peers, the bank’s co-CEOs announced that they would make diversity training mandatory for their employees.
They also announced an expansion of a recruiting team dedicated to employing people of color and other minorities. (Flitter, 2020). With those new-hires, they are adding inherent diversity. The knowledge employees gain from training classes will add acquired diversity to the company.
Why Adding Diversity Is Critical
Understanding how to recruit a diverse workforce is only useful if you know why you’re doing it. The first reason is to add new skills and people with a broader array of experiences to your company. According to The Nielsen Corporation, black people in America have shopping habits that differ from white people—having African American people on your staff could help you sell to that demographic.
One company that understands the value of diversity is medical technologies company Stryker. It’s CEO Kevin Lobo said, “I am a huge believer in diversity and inclusion because it is the right way to treat people. It leads to better business results and most importantly it will help us achieve our mission of making healthcare better.” To put his money where his mouth is, Stryker launched seven voluntary and employee-led programs to hire and train veterans, African Americans, LGBTQ people, women, millennials, and Hispanics/Latinos. (Stryker).
Another way to think about how to recruit a diverse workforce is to focus on adding a more comprehensive range of languages. Like how having people with various ethnicities can help you reach new customers, the United States has over 41 million native Spanish speakers living here. Wouldn’t having someone with skills in that language benefit your business? Employees who speak other languages also bring different cultural experiences to the table, helping to build a company that can competently discuss a wide range of topics with authority.
As your office grows and begins to look and sound different, it’s important to note how your company’s cultural awareness changes, too. It’s all well and good to know how to recruit a diverse workforce, but the real changes happen when employees share their knowledge. You should never hire to fill diversity quotas. You should hire to find people willing to share their experiences with their coworkers. People do this through their work, but they can also do this by sharing their music, food, or even informal water-cooler talks about holidays or culture. Through this bonding, you are building a culture of awareness, and soon all of your employees will be able to speak to topics that they may not have known before meeting their new coworker. You, too, should learn from your employees. As Marcus says, “The key to business isn’t being smarter or wealthier, it’s being able to connect to people and relate to them.”
How To Hire A More Diverse Workforce
- Scrutinize your advertisements. Before you post your ad, reread what it says, then look at what it doesn’t say. Sometimes, there are barriers to employment that you might not recognize because of your unique viewpoint. People who know how to recruit a diverse workforce know how to get a wide variety of candidates, but they also know how to tailor their ads if they’re looking for people with particular skills. For general advertisements, avoid gendered language.
Be sure to use simple, clear word choices. Foreign candidates may be the best in their field but struggle with a new language. Avoid unnecessary industry jargon many business owners use to make the open position seem more critical than it is. If you are looking to recruit specific people, consider targeted advertising. Digital services can comb through information on Google and LinkedIn to find hyper-specific details about candidates.
- Go to them, don’t make them come to you. Another method of how to recruit a diverse workforce is to go to where diverse groups are, instead of merely trying the same recruitment techniques you have always done. Keep posting your help-wanted ads the same way, but add in some new sources. For example, career fairs around your city, social media pages for hobbies, or clubs around town all cater to various people who might not see your ads unless you go there. If a candidate feels recognized in a comfortable setting, they will be more comfortable applying.
- Start an inclusive internship for your company. One of the reasons why diversity is an issue in business is that not everybody has a clear path to their chosen careers. You can allow people to experience what your field is like through an internship program. If the program is well thought out, you’ll receive access to a broad group of young, diverse people who show an interest in your field. More importantly, you’ll be giving the interns new connections, skills, and goals. You’ll be creating a pipeline to success for them. Be generous with your company’s time and training. Marcus tells us, “there is no being generous to a fault. Because there is no fault in being generous.”
- Consider rethinking your scheduling. Flexible schedules are appealing to everyone, but according to a study by McKinsey & Company, it’s the number one value women look for in companies. (Coury, et. al., 2020). It’s also more appealing to Millennials who prioritize a better work/life balance more than previous generations. And, sometimes diverse neighborhoods are far from business centers, so the commute becomes a sticking point. Moving to a work-from-home scheme, if possible, could make your company suddenly much more appealing to specific candidates.
If you place a high value on making your employees’ lives better, they will return the favor with hard work. Marcus puts it this way. “The customer is not No. 1 to me. They’re No. 2, right behind the employee.”
Top 5 Benefits Of Having Diverse Clients, Too
1. Different folks, different strokes. Having a diverse client base will allow you to receive varied opinions from a wide group of people. That information is invaluable when it’s time to expand. Beyond diversifying the people you’re doing business with, try diversifying the kinds of companies you deal with. Try having a mix of big and small companies from different industries or sectors. If your company relies on one specific type of contract, it will hurt your chances to survive if something goes wrong.
2. Better overall performance. It just makes sense. The millennial generation is more diverse than any before it, and that trend is continuing. You can’t afford not to diversify. As Marcus says, “If you don’t evolve, you will die.” Operating a company that only sells to one type of client is operating with one hand tied behind its back.
3. Equality in-house and out. Business is built on people. When your team looks, sounds, thinks, and buys like your customers, they’re going to be able to help them a lot better when issues arrive. Basically, a diverse company will always be better equipped to fix mistakes. And, it makes your brand more appealing to a broader group of people.
Marcus puts it this way. “If the employee is happy, then the chances of the customer being happy are exponentially better.” It isn’t easy to have one without the other.
4. It creates value. The more customers you have, the more money you will make. But it gets more complicated than that. The more diverse your sources of revenue are, the more valuable your business becomes. Various diverse clients make companies more robust and more likely to survive if another sales source dries up. Think about how many companies sold items exclusively to Cuba before the trade embargo of 1962 and folded overnight.
5. It builds loyalty. Globalization means that more people than ever are available to become customers. There’s a lot of competition, though. Personalizing your products through insights given to you by your diverse staff can, and will, help you to serve your customers better. When you are better positioned than competitors, you can build loyalty.
Be Generous. Be Fair. Include Everyone.
As the world changes and society becomes more diverse, businesses need to reflect that change, too. When we diversify our companies to reflect society, we will reap the rewards that come along. You now have our tips on how to recruit a diverse workforce, and now you know why it’s such a good idea. New perspectives will help us solve problems. New voices will become leaders. Professionally, doors will open up and give us new paths to success. At the end of the day, it’s as Marcus always says. “Businesses are based on relationships and relationships are based on people.”
- What does your current workforce look like?
- How can you leverage the above tips to hire a more diverse workforce?
Flitter, E. (2020, March 31). JPMorgan announces new diversity push. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/31/business/jpmorgan-diversity.html
Stryker.com. (2017). Our inclusive culture. Retrieved from https://careers.stryker.com/en-US/page/culture-locations
Coury, S., Huang, J., Kuma, A., Prince, S., Krivkovich, A. & Yee, L. (2020. September 30). Women in the workplace. Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/women-in-the-workplace