We hear the term “diversity” thrown around loosely in society today. We all know it’s important, but what does it mean?
Merriam Webster defines the diversity as, “different from each other” or, “made up of people or things that are different from each other.” This idea can be expanded to workplace diversity, which is defined as understanding, accepting, and valuing differences between people of different races, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, disabilities, and sexual orientations, as well as differences in personalities, skill sets, experiences, and knowledge bases.
Diversity is vital to the health and growth of an organization. As companies compete on a global scale, having a diverse set of experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds is crucial to the innovation and development of new ideas, products, and services1. Companies that place an emphasis on diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above the industry median2. A 2015 report by McKinsey revealed that, among the 366 companies surveyed, the top-performing companies were also the most diverse3.
Aiko Bethea, in a podcast with Brene Brown titled “Inclusivity at Work: The Heart of Hard Conversations”4, says that you can have diversity without inclusion. Inclusion is being able to express yourself and know that your lived experiences matter.
If a company does not have inclusion, then diversity recruiting efforts will be meaningless. So, how do we emphasize inclusion in the workplace? Below, I’ll outline five strategies to recruiting diverse talent, specifically within digital commerce agencies.
1: Encourage Interviewers to Participate in Diversity and Inclusion Training
We have all sat through the typical HR seminar or lunch-and-learn about diversity and inclusion, but what I am referring to is something much deeper.
Strengthening diversity in the workforce involves having hiring managers and interviewers explore the biases that may affect their hiring decisions. We often are unaware of the confirmation bias we hold, which is the tendency to embrace information that confirms one’s existing beliefs while rejecting information that challenges them.
A great way to explore these hidden biases is through introspection and accountability. Brene Brown, is an American professor, lecturer, author, and podcast host that has dedicated much of her life to studying topics like courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. In her book Dare to Lead, she says, “People are opting out of vital conversations about diversity and inclusivity because they fear looking wrong, saying something wrong, or being wrong. Choosing our own comfort over hard conversations is the epitome of privilege, and it corrodes trust and moves us away from meaningful and lasting change.” To foster a diverse and inclusive culture you have to ask hard questions, have tough conversations, and be vulnerable.
2: Assess Skill First
As part of your hiring process, make it a practice to screen everyone the same way for a given opportunity. Have the applicant complete a small trial project or the same standardized questionnaire. This gives interviewers the chance to form their opinions on skill.
I make it a priority to ask the same questions of every applicant during my screening calls. I assign weighted scores to each question, which allows me to compare each candidate side-by-side.
3: Connect with Organizations and Meetup Groups that Attract Underrepresented Talent
As a digital commerce agency, one of the biggest roadblocks recruiters may face is just getting underrepresented groups to apply to job postings. Women currently remain highly underrepresented in software engineering (14% of total workforce) and computer science-related jobs (25% of total workforce). In fact, women software engineer hires have only increased 2% over the last 20 years5.
4: Highlight How Diversity and Different Thoughts are Welcome in Your Company Values
This doesn’t mean you need to create a catchy mission statement or cliche values for your About Us page. This means truly living out your values as an organization, holding others accountable, creating a culture of inclusivity, and hiring people that foster growth and innovation.
5: Ensure Your Hiring Team Represents Diversity
67% of job seekers say diversity is an important factor when considering an employer6. As I previously cited, the software development community is very lopsided when it comes to females vs. males in the industry. If you have a female candidate you are hoping to attract to your digital agency, it may not be a smart move to fill your panel with only male programmers.
Supporting Diversity in the Workplace
When diversity matters to an applicant, they are not just looking for the words “diversity and inclusion” in your values; they are looking at the diversity makeup of your company and who you are as a group.
Interested in working for an inclusive company like CQL, and have questions about career opportunities? Contact us today and we’ll have our experienced Talent Acquisition Specialist contact you about potential job opportunities at CQL.