How To Find Diverse Candidates for Your Team

By Catherine Lang-Cline

A bright light is being shined on long-standing disparity and inequity in our communities. We truly believe that work opportunities are an important piece of this very complex puzzle. 

MIT engineers did a study that racially diverse teams outperform non-diverse teams by 35%. They found that having different types of people on the same team can help others look at problems differently, be more innovative, more creative, and inclusive in their problem-solving. So what is holding you back? Think that the team won’t mesh? Most employees would actually like a more diverse team. Too busy to implement your diversity and inclusion program? That is fairly common. Here are some steps that will hopefully make your hiring process easier:

  1. Start by thinking about the long-term goal. Don’t think about just this one role–think about the overall picture of how you would like your company to look in the future. Having this vision first will help hold you to your search goals. 

  2. Prioritize only the skill sets you need, then write the job description. Keep it simple so more candidates feel qualified to apply. Remove anything that may be filtering out quality people; such as huge expectations in the number of years of experience, graduating from a top university, or studying in a field that might not be available to everyone. You can also add to every job description a disclaimer that encourages people that don’t exactly match the job description to apply anyway.

  3. Remove unconscious biases from the hiring process. Write a job spec and test it out to make sure it doesn’t only appeal to one group of people, such as men. Stay with me here, words matter, so think about the words you use. For example, “dominant” and “competitive” are seen as positive traits for men, but as negative attributes for women. And other words, such as “loyalty,” passion,” and “collaboration,” have been shown to appeal more to women. It’s not that you can’t ever use any of these words, but it matters how you use them. Make sure that your description is well-balanced and appeals to all people equally. Not sure? Have other people read it.

  4. Look for talent in unlikely or overlooked places. Look beyond your alma mater; look at schools with more diversity. Post jobs in different locations than you normally do. Share the job with people that may be better connected.

  5. Line up some diverse interviewers to meet with the candidates. For example, women are much more likely to join a company when they can interact with women who are already there, especially if one of the interviewers is a woman. It shows the company’s commitment to diversity.

  6. Remember that diversity comes in different forms other than gender and race, such as; educational background, geography, economics, family status, disability, sexual preference, gender expression/identity, political inclination, religious affiliation, and age.

  7. Value each candidate’s journey. We often value the easy things–past success, elite schools, or work experience in leading companies. We are less skilled at recognizing unique talent, or those whose journey is possibly longer and less traditional; in many cases, those candidates can demonstrate determination, resiliency, and creative problem-solving.

  8. Use data and facts to evaluate all candidates the same way. Create a standard evaluation system and use it in the same way for each candidate. Some companies remove names and photos before reviewing resumes so they are not aware of race or gender during evaluation.

We understand that searching for the right person is challenging. Trust us, at Portfolio Creative we work hard every day to find more and more diverse candidates for our clients and our own team. And we are fully aware that we need to do even more. We can do better, we all can. Let’s work together to get there.