With the increasing awareness of the need for diverse workplaces and teams, diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) policies have become a pressing issue in the business world. Yet, not every business owner knows where to begin or what to do to ensure their company is hiring for diverse backgrounds and skills.
Below, nine members of Young Entrepreneur Council discuss some of the steps a business owner can take to ensure that they have a hiring process that embraces diversity, as well as explain why this is so important to creating a truly successful business.
1. Set Up A Diverse Hiring Committee
To ensure that you are hiring for diverse backgrounds and skills, it is critical that you set up a hiring committee (i.e. one that includes more than yourself). As much as we like to all think we are open-minded and objective, it is important to be self-aware and recognize that you, as an isolated individual making hiring decisions, will necessarily be biased. In contrast, a diverse committee can help you overcome your biases. Within your committee you can discuss each candidate and, assuming you foster a safe environment, you will receive diverse input that can allow you to choose the best employees. For small businesses, that may require soliciting from individuals outside your business. Choose those who may think differently and who are not afraid to disagree with you and challenge you. – Ryan Meghdies, Tastic Marketing Inc.
2. Audit Your Application Process
Diversity begins with the first point of contact employees have with the company. Review your job postings to ensure you don’t have verbiage that implies a role is more male- or female-centered. Run resumes through the screening process by blocking candidate names. This way, you only review their background and skills without knowing anything personal that may unconsciously sway you. Be sure to share your job postings on various platforms and geographic locations (if possible) that will encourage a larger pool of diverse candidates to apply. The more inviting you make the positions, the easier it becomes to start equal opportunity and diversity. – Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.
3. Hire For Traits And Motivation First And Skills Second
We’ve hired some of our best team players from different industries and backgrounds. Instead of looking for a complex set of prerequisites, focus on your culture and look for team players eager to grow professionally and skill up on the way. It’s easier to teach skills than motivation. Bringing in a highly determined employee who isn’t afraid of putting in the time and resources to catch up while bringing the right traits such as attention to detail or soft skills will enable you to look into a broader pool of applicants and improve your diversity accordingly. – Mario Peshev, DevriX
4. Interview As Many Candidates As Possible
Diversity is more than just ethnic or racial background; it’s also about experiences. The best thing to do is to try to interview as many candidates as possible. You’ll be surprised how much richer of an environment you have when you have a diverse team. Diversity can come in the form of languages, cultural backgrounds, educational backgrounds, past job experiences, geographic locations and more. Thanks to remote work, you can make this happen much easier than in the past. Think about having a global team instead of a local team. That alone makes it easier to create a diverse work environment. – Maria Thimothy, OneIMS
5. Build Diversity Into Your Culture
Diversity is built into our company culture, and while we still are not as diverse as we’d like to be, it is clear to everyone on the team that diversity is important to us, thus impacting our decisions. Diversity is a standing topic in our weekly team meeting, and we have a Slack channel where people can bring up anything relevant to DEI and post ideas. Because we are making an effort to keep diversity front and center, naturally we believe we are going to hire people with more interesting backgrounds and skills. For example, if we are shifting our marketing to attract a more diverse customer base, or support Black or indigenous vendors, naturally people will look to hire those who have experiences that can add to these initiatives. – Matt Wilson, Under30Experiences
6. Look For Unconventional Career Histories
While it’s easy to hire candidates who already have a few years of direct industry experience, it’s important to also consider applicants who might have had completely different work experiences but have enough of the underlying skill set for the open position. In some cases, you might find someone who brings in a unique perspective that can be a game-changer for the business. This is especially helpful since they won’t have any previous understanding of industry “norms,” which naturally allows them to think outside of the box. – Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep Mattress
7. Have Fewer Background Requirements
We try not to have too many background requirements. Of course, all jobs are going to have requirements. If you need a PHP developer, you have to find someone who knows PHP. But when it comes to requirements such as degrees, level of schooling and things like that, it shouldn’t matter so much. Our Director of Customer Success was a middle school math teacher less than two years ago. Where you’re from, what your previous roles were and things like that often don’t define whether you will be successful in a job or not. Try removing requirements where they don’t really matter and see the range of candidates you get. – Jared Brown, Hubstaff Tasks
8. Spend Time Educating Your Team
To ensure that business owners are hiring for diverse backgrounds and skills, they can educate the company on what that means. This keeps everyone on the same page and allows you to move forward with the same vision, mission and goals. You can hold a meeting as regularly as you’d like to provide ongoing education about why diversity in the workplace is not only necessary, but also crucial. Diversity is the key to creativity, innovative ideas and useful insights and perspectives. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
9. Have Candidates Take A Blind Assessment
Have potential job candidates take a blind assessment test for the skills that you require. A computer program can take down a number or username and can test SEO, copywriting or other skills. This allows you to see quality in real time. This process is best if you have multiple applicants for the same position. If there are only a handful of candidates, then they remove the anonymity. Welcome the candidate in your workplace if you decide to hire them. Show genuine interest in who they are, and always listen to them. Read the applicant’s resume and do not just rely on a quick skim or algorithm. AI has been known to make mistakes, and doing a basic review can identify unique skills. In the case of a resume, studies have found that removing names can make all the difference. – Duran Inci, Optimum7