How to attract more diverse candidates: the 3As

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Engaging a broader talent pool is essential to achieving a more diverse workforce. These three analysis points will help you rethink your attraction strategy

Recruitment is an essential strand of any diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy: as the logic goes, hiring more diverse candidates should lead to a more diverse workforce.

The task of attracting professionals from outside of your traditional talent pool might seem daunting but there are some simple strategies that can start you off on the process:

Analyse your ask. First impressions count so it is important to make job adverts and descriptions as inclusive as possible. This will help to reduce the likelihood that some candidates may self-select out before even applying.

“The first big question to ask yourself and your hiring managers is, ‘Is that really a requirement?’,” says Eleni Pavlovic, talent partner at internal HR experts Instant Impact. “Do you really need that professional qualification and do you have to have x many years experience?”

Focus on the skills you need and why they are important, she adds. “This could be a bit of a leap for hiring managers so consider adding ‘preferred’ or ‘beneficial’ experience as a first step.”

The language used in job descriptions is also an important aspect to consider. “Lots of job adverts are rolled on historically and tinkered with as firms progress. But, from a D&I perspective, what is this language saying?” asks Sonya Rees, director at tax, accounting and business advisory firm Blick Rothenberg.

For example, research suggests that certain words and terminology can deter women from applying to roles.  “It is a slight generalisation because you can have outliers on both sides of the coin and in all walks of life,” says Rees.

“... But these types of words are perhaps attracting one sort of person and may be putting off others who think ‘this might not fit my personality’ or ‘that is not the right firm for me’. And it is probably cutting down your talent pool before people have even clicked on an application.”

One way to mitigate this is to put adverts through a gender decoder tool. Instant Impact uses this simple decoder to ensure the language in job adverts and descriptions is as gender inclusive as possible.

There is also the question of location. One positive lesson to come from the Covid-19 pandemic is the fact that people can work effectively from home, says Rees. That gives firm access to more diverse candidates as they are no longer locked out of opportunities for logistical reasons.

Even further afield, being a visa sponsorship employer could help businesses attract a wider range of candidates, says Pavlovic, though not all companies have the resources for this.

Analyse your sources. Look at your main recruitment channels and assess whether they provide a diverse talent pool and, if not, why not, advises Fay Palaska, group head of recruitment at global investor services group IQ-EQ. For example, is this across all jobs or specific to certain departments or roles?

The ATS is fundamental, she adds. The technology allows her to deep dive into the data, analysing the number of applications, the sources, the conversion rate and how diverse the pool really is.

ACCA careers prides itself on a diverse and global workforce that reflects the diversity of ACCA members, alongside this diversity-centric job boards, such as Vercida, are also worth exploring, advises Pavlovic.

Headhunting is another option, she adds, as this opens up the role to people who are not actively searching for jobs and internal recruitment teams can present diverse candidates.

Analyse your marketing. Alongside looking at the language and format of ads, Palaska is also looking at recruitment marketing strategies to assess how jobs are advertised and if certain forums or mediums appeal to a specific type of person.

“Working with partners who support minority or disadvantaged groups can be a brilliant way to get your company in front of diverse candidates,” says Pavlovic. Consider how you can support and work with organisations such as universities, schools, apprenticeship training providers and professional groups like Women in Finance, she adds.

The PGA of America took a slightly different route. It partnered with media outlets that have a “strong presence” with underrepresented groups to build awareness about them among these communities. The ultimate aim was to build the PGA’s presence and improve D&I among employees.

Employer branding is also an important marketing strategy. “It is the window into your business for potential employees – what you do, what you believe in – and it can be really influential in determining which candidates apply and which do not feel welcome,” says Pavlovic.

The PGA of America turned to social media to help them attract more diverse candidates by sharing the career stories of employees from all backgrounds, for example.

With diverse candidates applying, you will need to ensure the selection process is also as inclusive as possible, If you would like to know more about de-biasing your selection process, check out our guide here. We also have a feature on strategies to embed D&I and create an inclusive culture.

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