When companies thinking about improving their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (“DEI”) efforts, the first idea they often have is hiring more diverse candidates. The thought being that the way to make the organization more diverse is simply to just bring in more diverse talent. However, hiring diverse candidates just to hire diverse candidates should not be the goal and is not the best way to address DEI issues. In fact, making hiring decisions based on a person’s gender or race is illegal. But, hiring more diverse candidates is a way to diversify your workforce – so what is the best way to do that?
Quotas are illegal
Employers may look at their workforce, identify where their diversity is lacking, and think, “let’s hire more X-type of people to increase diversity.” This concept or thought is akin to a quota system and quotas are completely illegally. Employers must not, as part of their DEI efforts, determine that they should hire a set number of any particular demographic and make efforts in that direction. The goal should always be to hire the most qualified applicant for the position.
Have a diverse applicant pool
So, if employers cannot identify and hire particular people based on their demographics, how can they increase the pipeline of diverse individuals into their workforces? The answer is expanding the outreach efforts. Employers should evaluate where they are posting jobs, what career fairs they are attending, and what partnership they have in the community. If the desire is to have more women engineers, the company should see if there is a woman engineer affinity group in the area where they can post jobs or attend events. If the desire is to increase more veterans, the company should partner with veteran organizations. Increasing the diversity of your applicant pool will ultimately have the effect of increasing the diversity in your workforce.
Don’t forget about having an inclusive work environment
However, having a diverse workforce is only part of the DEI puzzle. You must cultivate an environment of inclusivity for your workforce to truly accomplish DEI goals. There are many different ways to cultivate environments of inclusivity—including re-evaluating holidays, re-thinking the types of in-person celebrations that are offered, the types of health benefits they provide, and other aspects of the employment experience. Creating a work environment where everyone can participate and feels valued is the ultimate goal.
Bringing in new employees is but one piece of the DEI puzzle. Employers should consider a comprehensive approach that considers not only hiring, but evaluations of policies and procedures related to compensation, promotions, and more, to truly ensure they make impactful steps in their DEI efforts.