From Candidate to Hire: Get Them Talking Diversity

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Nov 19, 2018

You’re interviewing a strong candidate and the conversation is coming to an end. You’ve talked about their current role, skills and career goals. You wrap up by asking, “What questions do you have for me?”

Without a pause, the candidate asks, “Can you tell me how your company supports a diverse and inclusive culture?” This is not a question you were expecting.

We hear about diversity and inclusion in the news, it infuses our politics, and the C-suite embraces it as a business priority. Now, candidates are taking a proactive stance on workplace diversity and inclusion.

New research conducted by Yello and The Harris Poll finds more than half of job seekers have asked about an employer’s diversity commitment directly in an interview. As these questions bubble up more frequently in the recruitment process, are you prepared to answer?

Conversations about diversity and inclusion are becoming as commonplace in an interview as “Tell me about your culture” or “How will this role make an impact?” If you don’t have a strategy to address and embrace diversity both in the interview process and in the workplace, you’ll lose top talent.

Proactively promote diversity

Instead of waiting for a job seeker to prompt you or an employee to raise the subject, you can take a leaf out of your candidate’s book — insist on a proactive stance by encouraging diversity conversations in the interview process and throughout the employee journey. Here’s how.

Early and often

Start a conversation on diversity before a candidate has even clicked submit on their application by sharing diversity stories with your talent community. Communications to your talent community are an opportunity to engage directly with your most important audience: potential employees. Along with company news and updates on employee promotions, convey your commitment to diversity of thought, background, nationality and identity through testimonials and curated content from social media. (Nearly a quarter of candidates believe social media posts from employees are a top way organizations can demonstrate a commitment to diversity.) Knowing these important subjects are top-of-mind for your organization may even encourage talent to seek open roles with your company.

Don’t neglect your careers page

Speaking of exploring open roles, don’t neglect your careers page. Showcase your diversity credentials in every candidate touch point, from the initial career page experience to the job application. Does your careers page include a diversity statement? Do you offer specifics on how your company is working to promote diversity and inclusion through local partnerships or employee initiatives? Research finds that one in three candidates believe public statements about diversity and inclusion demonstrate an organization’s diversity commitment, so don’t pass up showing that diversity is part of the fabric of your organization.

Encourage communication

At work, some employees may be hesitant to ask questions about diversity and inclusion. Whether they’re worried about judgment from coworkers, stirring up a potentially sensitive subject or don’t know who to ask, employees need a safe space to ask questions and receive honest responses, and leadership needs to understand the employee experience. At Yello, employees can submit anonymous questions that are answered by company leadership and posted on the company intranet. Through this two-way communication portal, employees are empowered to make their voices heard and receive an honest answer, instead of hearing misinformation from the grapevine or not having the conversation at all. Simultaneously, the leadership team is enabled to listen to, and address, employee concerns.

Report on diversity

Company meetings shouldn’t be limited to earnings review and progress to target objectives. This brief moment during which you have the attention of every employee makes it a crucial opportunity to discuss workplace diversity. During these meetings, review your company’s vision for inclusion and the programs underway to bring this vision to life.

Let employees lead

One of the most effective ways to continue conversations about diversity and inclusion is to provide resources and support to your current employees by establishing employee resource groups (ERGs). ERGs are employee-led organizations made up of employees who share common interests, backgrounds and goals. They allow members and non-member allies to build connections, initiate conversations and promote learning and professional development. ERGs flip the script by enabling employees to lead the conversation and play a role in establishing the company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Make diversity a water-cooler conversation

Diversity and inclusion is on the minds of company leaders everywhere. As these conversations transform from C-suite initiatives into water-cooler conversation, company leaders should take steps to foster and encourage progressive discussion. Bringing these conversations out from behind closed doors will challenge your organization to continually improve, embrace differences and encourage empathy to cultivate a culture that prioritizes diversity and inclusion.