4 Biggest Diversity Recruiting Mistakes

Christa Feazell
23 Mar

It seems like everyone is talking about diversity and how to recruit underrepresented talent. 

Recruiting for diversity can be difficult; many companies find that their professional networks are lacking due to its homogeneity, and their normal recruitment channels don’t yield the desired results. 

But many organizations make crucial mistakes that can literally sabotage their own recruitment efforts. These mistakes can drive talent away and contribute to an overall toxic workplace culture, impacting your desired employer brand. In order to create a truly diverse and sustainable workforce, businesses must adapt and adjust their hiring practices accordingly. Otherwise, big mistakes could lead to difficulties recruiting new talent, a negative reputation, and even lost revenue. 

These are the four biggest diversity recruiting mistakes you might be doing now and our tips on how to avoid them. 

#1 No More Ninjas and Rockstars 

Job descriptions and ads are a candidate’s first impression of your company. First impressions can be tough! If you’re looking to  get great candidates in the door, you have to put your best foot forward. A good job description should clearly state the position, its responsibilities, and the skills and experience your company is looking for. But certain language could be hamstringing your recruitment efforts. 

For instance: stop looking for IT ninjas, coding rockstars, and HR wizards! This language drives women and BIPOC candidates away. A recent study found that biased language deterred more than half of female candidates from applying. 

So, what’s going on behind the scenes? What do unicorns and rockstars have to do with biased language? When you post that you’re looking for ninjas, unicorns, and rockstars, you send the message a message that will likely only resonate with a very small, specific subset of people. This raises an exclusionist red flag that will turn underrepresented candidates away from your company. 

Aside from that, and let’s just be honest with ourselves, it sounds juvenile. Most prospective employees prefer a clear, concise job ad that outlines the job description without any superlatives or mythical creatures. 

How to avoid it: Have multiple people review job descriptions before posting them to see how it reads to those with different perspectives. For those who just need a bit of extra help with phrasing and grammar, there is always Grammarly

Most importantly: leave your rockstars and ninjas at the door. 

#2 An Obviously Superficial Commitment to Diversity 

Here’s a news flash: Diversity and Inclusion isn’t just an “HR program” or a “nice to have” for businesses. It’s a systematic overhaul of an entire company. To do it right, HR leaders need to remember that D&I isn’t a “one and done” type of issue. If you don’t fully commit to diversifying your workforce and creating an inclusive culture, people are going to see your D&I efforts for what they are: superficial and performative. 

Many companies fall prey to the “checking boxes” mentality. Rather than doing the work to address systemic issues, organizations will engage in tokenism and only hire a handful of minority candidates, so they claim they have “a gay guy, a mom, and a Latinx ERG.” Marginalized professionals are still excellent professionals with years of experience under their belts; they deserve to be recognized for their achievements and contributions, not a singular facet of their identity. 

How to avoid it: Companies can’t just hire a handful of employees and consider the issue handled. All employees must be given access to the same resources: salaries, mentors, and opportunities should be open to everyone. Organizations must also take into account the necessity of inclusion and creating an inclusive culture. If new hires feel tokenized or isolated, they’re not likely to stick around for very long. This will create a revolving door of new hires and, ultimately, damage your reputation.

Create a detailed plan for how your organization will tackle Diversity and Inclusion. Hire an experienced D&I consultant to advise on how best to address gaps in representation and determine what structural changes need to be made. As you begin to diversify your workforce, assemble a diverse team to facilitate recruitment efforts. Candidates should touch base with a variety of people throughout their interview process. 

This will not only help your business make better hiring decisions, it also shows the potential employee who they will be working with and how your organization acts on its values. 

#3 Not Utilizing HR Technology 

A shocking amount of businesses still opt for manual HR processes. It is easy to do things “the way we’ve always done them,” and it can be difficult even for top companies to keep pace with the rate of technology’s advancement. People sometimes feel they’re better off with the processes they’ve always used rather than try something new or different. 

The days of physically sorting through hundreds of resumes and posting your job descriptions on each individual board are over. Without some form of automation or HR tech, you’re always going to be a step behind your competitors, especially when it comes to recruitment. Doing things the “old fashioned way” slows down the hiring process and could even potentially introduce bias. Even using an old ATS can be detrimental to your hiring process. There are a breadth of features available at all price points; not utilizing them to their fullest potential is just throwing away money. 

Inefficiency always leads to waste and failing to embrace new technological advancements ultimately costs your business. Think of it this way: each data entry manually punched in by an HR worker costs your company $4.71. That’s half of the current federal minimum wage! Multiply that across hundreds of job applications and you have a hefty bill...and you haven’t even gotten to the interview yet. 

How to avoid it: The answer is simple! Invest in HR tech. Lucky for us, we are living and operating in the golden age of HR technology. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), for example, have become an industry standard. Not only do they store candidate information, many offer a wide variety of features that can improve your recruitment process. 

Beyond the basics, there are a number of technologies available that will make your diversity recruiting easier. HR analytics software like People Analytics can reveal hidden patterns in your HR data and highlight important gaps in representation. Joonko uses AI to match qualified candidates from underrepresented groups with open positions. 

Whatever technology you implement in your recruitment process, consider what will be most effective and efficient for your diversity recruiting program. But don’t just rely on the same old “tried and true” techniques. 

#4 Forgetting the “Inclusion” Part of Diversity & Inclusion

The often-forgotten twin of diversity, inclusion is just as vital to your recruitment efforts. A toxic company culture can drive away any underrepresented candidates you bring in. To recruit for diversity, your organization must take a long, hard look at its current office culture and how it might need to change. This involves evaluating how you market your business not just to consumers, but to potential employees as well. An inclusive company culture, and an employer brand that reflects that, is just as important as your recruitment strategy. 

Employees are your best measure of the health of your company culture. If they’re saying there is a problem and management ignores it, nothing will change or improve. Even worse: some organizations ask for feedback and then don’t act on it. This greatly damages trust between management and employees. Everyone deserves to feel safe and listened to at their place of work. If they don’t, they will move on to an organization with a better, more inclusive culture. 

A negative culture often begets a negative reputation. We’re now in the digital age; if your company has a toxic culture, it will impact your employer brand. Your average jobseeker will check out your company website, peruse your GlassDoor reviews, look at your current employees on LinkedIn, and scroll through your social media. From these sources, they will glean a bit of what it’s like to work for your organization. If they don’t like what they find, talent will move on to someone with a more inclusive employer brand and a better employee experience. 

How to avoid it: Educate leaders and managers how to recognize and correct toxic behaviors. Create an inclusion council to welcome new hires and make them feel welcome. Most importantly, listen to your employees! They will give you the most accurate assessment of your company’s culture. Using anonymous surveys, you can solicit valuable feedback from employees that will show you where your organization needs to invest its efforts. 

Recruit Smarter, Not Harder

The best way to improve your diversity recruiting efforts is to recruit smarter, not harder. Imposing arbitrary GPA restrictions on candidates, focusing on what schools they graduated from, and visiting the same job fairs year after year will ultimately limit your talent pool. Open up your recruiting to new practices, new universities, and expand your network. 

By taking a second look at the things within your control, such as job descriptions and available technology, your business has a much better chance of attracting and recruiting talent from underrepresented groups. If you do that and avoid these four crucial mistakes, your organization’s Diversity and Inclusion will undoubtedly improve. 

Ready to invest in diversity?

Is your business ready to jumpstart your diversity recruiting efforts? Sign up for a live demo with Joonko product experts or check out our blog for more great D&I information.

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