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5 Tips for a More Effective DEI Recruiting Playbook How to overcome your potential biases in order to hire a more well-rounded and inclusive team.

By Lucas Miller Edited by Ryan Droste

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The benefits of a diverse workforce are well-documented. Companies with more diverse management enjoy a 19% revenue increase over their non-diverse competitors. The Harvard Business Review reports that diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture new markets.

These statistics are only the tip of the iceberg. When companies prioritize hiring teams that are racially, ethnically and gender-diverse, great things can happen.

Unfortunately, the recruiting process can often present stumbling blocks in a brand's diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. By updating your recruiting tactics, you can be better positioned to create an inclusive, diverse workforce.

1. Be aware of biases

Sometimes, companies suffer from a lack of diversity because of unconscious biases that exist in the recruiters themselves. These biases aren't necessarily intentional or malicious, but they can significantly reduce opportunities for diverse candidates.

Affinity bias is one of the biggest challenges in DEI recruiting. Quite simply, most companies prefer hiring from their close networks, which are usually made up of people who look and think like themselves. Those who are hired and promoted tend to share similar traits to those already working for the company.

Expediency bias is another stumbling block, in which companies want to act quickly to fill an opening. This often keeps them from obtaining a wider array of candidates, further limiting opportunities to find diverse talent.

Actively striving to counteract these biases through training or diversifying your team of interviewers is a vital starting point to DEI hiring.

Related: 7 Ways to Check Your Bias When Evaluating Your Team

2. Review your job descriptions

Job descriptions may use specific language that attracts or repels certain groups of people. Most often, this involves language that subtly reflects societal expectations for men and women. Linguistic gender coding — such as using agentic, rather than communal language — will often keep women from applying for positions at a company.

Tools like Gender Decoder aim to help find subtle biases in job descriptions so companies can post job descriptions in more gender-neutral terms. A few simple tweaks could be enough to increase gender diversity among applicants.

Listed job requirements can sometimes keep otherwise qualified candidates from submitting an application. Think twice when making your lists of "must-haves" for applicants, as extensive lists can inadvertently exclude diverse candidates who lack direct experience. Quite often, emotional intelligence, transferable skills and other attributes are more important to on-the-job success than a specific degree or years of experience.

3. Go outside your traditional recruiting networks

As Ilit Raz, co-founder and CEO of diversity talent sourcing platform Joonko, writes, "When half a candidate pool is non-white or female, the hiring committee has a 50/50 chance of choosing one of those applicants. When only one person in the finalist pool is nonwhite or female, that person is never chosen. ‍The most important and crucial diversity recruiting tip anyone can offer is to seek diverse sources of talent. The makeup of your candidate pool has a direct impact on the potential for increasing representation of underrepresented groups."

Too many companies stick with their "traditional" recruiting networks that have consistently produced like-minded talent. Rather than going to the same resources you've always used to find talent, consider partnering with organizations that provide underrepresented candidates. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and professional organizations for racial minorities and women are just a few options for expanding your talent network.

4. Consider using blind resumes

One unfortunate outcome of affinity bias means that a diverse-sounding name can lessen a candidate's chance for receiving an interview. In one study, 25% of Black job candidates who "whitened" their resumes received interview callbacks. Among those who left ethnic details intact, only 10% received callbacks. Interestingly, this was just as prevalent among "pro-diversity" companies.

While it may sound counter-intuitive to your DEI efforts, one potential solution is to use "blind resumes" when determining who to call in for an interview. When recruiters remove key identifying information before reviewing a resume (such as names and gender references), they are less likely to fall into the affinity bias trap.

A similar approach should also come into play during the interview. Using a set of standardized interview questions will put all candidates on equal footing. Rather than asking "get to know you" style questions that can lead to affinity bias, questions should focus on an individual's competencies and whether they will be successful in the role.

Related: 4 Ways to Overcome That Gap On Your Resume

5. Diversify your recruiters and leadership

Diversity, equity and inclusion can't just be talking points — they must be genuinely ingrained in the company. That starts by making sure your leaders and recruiters are also diverse. Diverse leadership and recruitment opens up your company to new ideas and perspectives and helps counter the affinity bias and groupthink that can occur if the entire team comes from a similar background.

This means that leadership and recruiters must hold themselves accountable for DEI goals and actively look for new ways to improve the hiring process. Making DEI part of the job's goals or KPIs will help individuals in these key positions prioritize these responsibilities — particularly if there is ongoing accountability for DEI efforts.

Diverse leadership also sends an important message to candidates: Your organization puts everyone in a position to succeed, regardless of their background. Your company can be more than just a brief stop in someone's employment journey. It can be a place where they grow their career. Retaining diverse employees is what ultimately reveals if your DEI initiatives are delivering the desired impact.

DEI is worth the effort

Research has consistently illustrated how a more diverse workforce benefits all parties involved. A commitment to DEI must start with your leadership, and it cannot simply focus on getting underrepresented candidates through the door.

After a hire is made, providing an inclusive and equitable work environment is ultimately even more important. Treating everyone fairly and valuing different backgrounds and experiences will ensure that diverse talent sticks around for the long haul to better your brand.

Lucas Miller

Founder of Echelon Copy LLC

Lucas Miller is the founder and CEO of Echelon Copy LLC, a media relations agency based in Provo, Utah that helps brands improve visibility, enhance reputation and generate leads through authentic storytelling.

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