How to improve diversity hiring at your company

If you think your company or team couldn’t benefit from a double-down on diversity hiring efforts, answer these two questions from Joy Altimare, the chief brand and engagement officer at EHE Health:

1—Is the head of your development and learning a white woman or man?

2—Is your executive team monolithic in its composition, leaning toward men, white professionals, and those over the age of 50?

If you answer ‘yes’ to both of these questions, Altimare says you will likely struggle to attract the best and brightest people of color. In truth, hiring more diverse candidates is not a singular discussion; instead, she reminds me that it’s a strongarm output of diversity and inclusivity mission that’s part of the organization’s infrastructure. “That infrastructure will yield a deeper understanding, embedded in the fabric of the company which makes hiring diverse candidate an organic approach,” she continues. “Without diverse candidates, you will not have diverse thinking and ideas, making you less competitive, less productive, and less relevant in today’s world.” 

To address the race disparity within your company, get started with these strategies and tactics recommended by Black leaders across the country:

Practice self-reflection as a leader

As with any transformation, we hope to see within our homes or our businesses; the work begins with ourselves. As the founder and CEO of EnrichHer, Roshawnna Novellus recommends asking yourself as an executive: “What strategy have I used to hire staff, and how diverse is my team?” And then, be honest about how much effort you have put into this part of your company’s growth. This may uncover some inherent biases that you didn’t know you, fostered. Though usually unconscious, they can make a significant impact on who you bring in for an interview and who ultimately receives the offer letter. “Practices such as blind resume reading, which removes personal details like the candidate’s name, can be one way to reduce bias,” she adds.  

Humanize the process through community building

While, on paper, companies may strive to have a varied set of percentages regarding the demographics of their staff, it’s important to remember that diversity is more than a checkbox, says Dr. Nicole Garner Scott, the CEO and the corporate financial wellness program provider for Amount Financial. Though hiring via automation may be more comfortable, it can sometimes unintentionally eliminate true diversity, since it only looks for one aspect of a candidate. A better tactic is to establish relationships and invest in the Black and people-of-color communities. Sure, this is extra work—but it’s required for real inclusion. “If a company truly takes on an inclusive approach and serves with a people-first methodology, those same communities will start to recruit for them while reaching the best of the best,” she adds.

Create affinity groups for employees of color within your company

While Altimare says many organizations create ‘Black Business’ groups or ‘Diversity’ circles to help foster connections, that’s where they think the work stops. In reality, it’s only beginning, and it should be a fundamental part of your practices. Sometimes, Altimare says human resources representatives will join these gatherings to support people of color, but they don’t take the extra steps to create safe spaces for discussion and change. “Employers who have a dedicated mission towards diversity and inclusivity should create an infrastructure for organizations to be supported. This includes the financial burden so that their current and prospective employees feel like the company is a place for them to grow, professionally and personally,” she adds.

Make sure your hiring team or recruiters are going the extra mile

Perhaps your recruiters and your in-house human resources team think they are doing all they can to attract diverse talent, but are they? Chandra Thomas Whitfield is the host and producer of the forthcoming podcast ‘In the Gap,’ which will explore pay disparity for Black women. She says hiring teams need to go the extra mile and put in the additional leg work to align with institutions that already have a strong track record within the Black community. These include, but are not limited to, sororities and fraternities, historically Black institutions of higher education and professional organizations. “You’d be amazed at how a simple job post shared on the websites or social media of organizations and businesses or sending a recruiter to events and conferences that reach diverse candidates, can quickly and effectively yield dividends,” she continues. “Many organizations and companies completely miss out on amazingly talented, diverse candidates because they flat out refuse to take the initiative or do the research to find the resources that would give them the most bang for their buck.” 

If you don’t feel like you or anyone on your team is equipped to expand your diversity hiring, Whitfield suggests hiring a consultant specifically trained in this type of recruitment. 

Offer skill development programs

When applicants consider various job opportunities, they consider the whole package. From salary to benefit to culture, these all play a factor in whether or not they accept an offer. Founder and CEO of LeMarco Brands, the executive producer of ‘Hoarders,’ Courtney LeMarco says offering skill development programs illustrate your desire to invest in your staff. This shows you care about retention, and you want your employees to learn continuously. This is important for everyone, but LeMarco says it can be particularly helpful within the Black professional landscape. 

Don’t forget about retention, either

Francis Conduah, the CFO of Alpha Industries, says diversity hiring is like being invited to the dance. Inclusion is about being asked to dance. And equity is having a stake in the event. To both attract and retain top Black talent, you need all three. This means it’s not enough to get professionals within the door and offer them a corner office. “There need to be champions across the organization, from the board to the executives, and a long-term strategy needs to be built to create the pipeline that will build the pathway for future leaders,” he shares. “Companies should promote and create career opportunities for Black talent. There should be consistent evaluation and recognition of Black talent to allow for growth within. Blacks are typically under-represented in management; thus, a clear pathway to the next level should be created.”