Workforce diversity in 2020 surpasses age, race, and gender. Diversity today includes gender identification, sexual orientation, disabilities, cultural ideologies, and more. Today’s workforce has more women and older workers (55 or older), is better educated and more racially diverse, and includes more employees born outside the US than fifteen years ago.1 And projections forecast continued growth of these demographics.

One of the best places to support this diverse workforce is through hiring practices. Here are steps businesses can take to help promote inclusion and reduce bias from the very start of an employee’s experience.

Make inclusion and diversity initiatives specific and measurable

While the majority of employers say workforce diversity and inclusion is a priority, only one in three have a specific diversity and inclusion team, or a strategy for improving diversity and inclusion, in place.  Only one in eight employers prioritize targeted recruiting for people with disabilities, for example.

Consider setting diversity goals for your company and work towards hiring inclusively at all levels — including highly visible roles and leadership positions. Examples include committing to having 50% of officer roles filled by woman by 2022 or requiring at least two diverse candidates for every interview slate. Measure and report on your progress at set intervals.

Offer implicit bias training

Implicit bias — unconscious preferences, assumptions, attitudes, or judgments made about a person’s race, gender, age, ability, or other trait, which can influence decision-making and the way that people act towards others, often leading to discriminatory behavior — can create disparities in hiring practices, evaluations, promotions, and more. Implicit bias based on race shows up in 70 to 75 percent of Americans who participate in an implicit bias test, which can have a big impact when it comes to making subjective decisions about potential employees.2 Company-wide trainings that help employees identify and mitigate unconscious bias can help raise awareness and demonstrate the need for strategies that support diversity.

Adopt “blind hiring” strategies

Employers can take steps to reduce implicit bias at all stages of the hiring process — from creation of job descriptions to selecting a candidate:

Writing the job description

Studies have found that certain terms in job descriptions can be perceived as more masculine or feminine, often influencing gender selection for the role. Keep terms neutral and consider having the job description screened for inclusive language.

Consider adding text to your job posting indicating your company’s policy towards equal employment and link to your company’s inclusion and diversity web page.

Promotion

Post extensively on public forums and seek out job boards that reach more diverse audiences. Don’t limit your promotion to only professional organizations, alumni resource centers, or affiliation-based organizations. These can narrow the candidate pool and potentially reduce applicant diversity.

Applicant review

Remove demographic information from applications that can unintentionally inform preconceived thoughts, expectations or prejudices around potential candidates, such as names, terms that identify gender, colleges and other professional affiliations, or graduation years.

Then review resumes against predetermined, objective criteria, such as years of experience in a management role, certifications and education, or knowledge of platforms and applications.

Interviews

Create a structured interview process that includes  standardized interview questions, and a scoring system to rate candidates’ answers. Make sure all interviews are conducted in a consistent format, for the same length of time, and in a similar environment. Then have final scores evaluated by a staff member who did not attend the interviews to further mitigate bias.

Consider a work sample or assignment test

By reviewing an actual work product – with demographic and other identifying information redacted – employers can evaluate a candidate on the quality of their work. A work sample or assignment can be conducted during an interview with a set a time limit so that you can compare the work samples fairly.

It doesn’t stop at hiring

Inclusion and diversity strategies don’t stop once a candidate is selected. Make it a part of onboarding and specifically include it in policies and procedures at every stage in an employee’s tenure. 68 percent of workers strongly agree that it’s important for employers to create inclusive workplace culture. Moreover, benefits programs are considered more of a priority for diverse workers. Our Workforce 2020 report found that LGBTQ workers report higher benefits satisfaction and place more value on their benefits compared to non-LGBTQ workers.

By working to expand inclusive policies, mitigating implicit bias, and supporting diversity, companies can encourage innovation and support equity. The benefit for employers is clear: employers with more diversity in their workforces are 35 percent more likely to have better revenue and earnings growth than their industry peers. Organizations that value diversity contribute to feelings of respect and understanding among their employees, driving loyalty and increasing employee engagement.

Learn more about strategies to support your employees and find more information about supporting diverse and changing workforces in our report Workforce 2020: Meeting the benefit needs of today’s diverse workforce in a changed world.

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