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Does Your Industry Need a Diversity Hiring Pledge?

Does Your Industry Need a Diversity Hiring Pledge?

Though diversity has been a top recruitment and business issue for decades, recently it’s taken on increased urgency as efforts to diversify consistently miss the mark. Many companies and even entire industries don’t reflect the demographics of their surrounding communities or the country. Stark underrepresentation persists in the workforce and the C-suite for minorities, women, the disabled, people of different religious backgrounds, and the LGBTQ community.

Recently, a growing number of CEOs have committed to improving their diversity numbers through diversity and inclusion pledges. In June, 2016, scores of tech companies signed a diversity pledge in an effort to correct Silicon Valley’s notorious lack of diversity. Many NCAA member schools also signed a diversity hiring pledge in 2016. And last June, 150 business leaders agreed to increase their focus on diversity through the newly formed CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion—and the number of participants has since risen to over 400.

Which Industries Need a Diversity Hiring Pledge?

Some sectors are standouts for their diverse workforces, while others draw attention for their lack of diversity. According to a 2012 global survey on diversity and inclusion by Forbes Insights, the healthcare, hospitality, and business services industries ranked high in diversity. The tech industry meanwhile continues to struggle with a well-known lack of diversity. But the truth is, diversity needs bolstering to some degree or another in almost all industries.

What Are Diversity Hiring Pledges?

Diversity pledges are public commitments to improve the representation of varied groups in a company’s workforce. What distinguishes them from past initiatives is their focus on honesty, transparency, benchmarking, and outcomes. Here’s what the CEOs and companies committing to diversity pledges are doing differently:

They Embrace Difficult Conversations

It isn’t easy to discuss issues of implicit bias in hiring and in the workplace. It makes people uncomfortable to consider their own roles in biased hiring or decision making, and it delves into painful experiences and feelings for people who have experienced bias. But without an honest discussion of the roadblocks to diversity, companies will never find ways around them. Unconscious bias training programs are often a good entry point.

They Experiment

Not all diversity hiring and inclusion tactics work for every industry or every business. So companies are testing different methods for improving the diversity of their workforces. The important thing is to try different approaches and evaluate outcomes. For companies struggling to hire more women executives, for example, one strategy could be as simple as reviewing job descriptions for gender bias. A tool such as this gender bias decoder from Totaljobs is a quick way to balance gendered words in job postings to help attract diverse candidates. For most companies, however, the trial and error period will be extensive. Some possible first steps:

  • Diversify your hiring team.
  • Make sure job postings reach diverse institutions and job search websites.
  • Establish ‘blind hiring’ by keeping candidate names and photos from the hiring team until the first interview.
  • Raise awareness about the business benefit of diverse perspectives.


They Value Transparency

Increasingly, companies are keeping employees and the public in the loop about the diversity of their workforce and any shifts in the percentages. This puts pressure on organizations to show steady improvement in diversity.

It’s well established that diversity is good for business and results in more creative teams. It’s becoming clear that diversity also attracts talent and customers, and contributes to current employee satisfaction. A 2017 Glassdoor survey found 84 percent of Millennials place value on the diversity and inclusion efforts of the companies they work for.

They Focus on Inclusion

Without an inclusive workplace, diverse hiring is unsustainable. Employees of all backgrounds must feel genuinely accepted and supported as individuals in the workplace. This boils down to workers feeling their input is welcome, their individuality is valued, and their growth is encouraged—and it starts at the top. Companies where the CEO and other top executives lead by example on inclusion are better positioned to create and maintain a culture of inclusion. They should voice that it’s important to them often, and back it up with relationship-building conversations, workshops, mentoring programs, training, and cultural events.

Last but not least, companies making strides towards diversity and inclusion embrace that the effort never ends. They change course, they develop best practices, they track their diversity numbers, and they keep pushing forward.

Need help with your diversity hiring efforts? Contact us.

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