Understanding and respecting diversity in the workplace is an important issue for all of us. Not only is it something we should all be mindful of for ethical reasons, it’s also something that can help to ensure that a business is more profitable, innovative and effective. In addition to that, true diversity recruiting is becoming a more common legal requirement in many countries across the globe.

So, it’s critical you know how to recruit with diversity in mind.

Whether you’re an in-house recruiter charged with monitoring and improving diversity in your workplace, or an agent who wants to find the best talent to better serve your clients, here are some tips on diversity recruiting you might find helpful…


The first thing you need to do is to familiarise yourself with the relevant legislation and guidance you’re obliged to comply with. You’ll also need to learn about the ethical value and business value of a diverse workforce too, so that you can communicate the importance of diversity recruiting internally or to your clients. Seek guidance from reliable entities in your country for assistance with this, and consider the following resources too:

  • This document forms part of the Race for Opportunity’s (RfO) Diversity Recruitment Toolkit and has been produced by a group of organizations that comprise the Recruitment Industry Engagement Initiative (RIEI). It’s a UK group, but the information and advice in here has global application.
  • This test (developed by Harvard University) will help you to discover your implicit beliefs or attitudes towards certain topics, groups, and beliefs. (We’ll discuss bias or ‘implicit belief’ below).

Challenge your bias

You see the world in a particular way. Now, that implicit bias doesn’t mean that you are sexist, ageist or racist – or anything else that precludes diversity – but it does mean you’ll probably practice particular patterns of behavior that make your recruitment decisions less equal than you’re consciously aware of. Take a look at the Harvard University test above and share it with others charged with making recruitment decisions. Your own biases will influence everything from where you find your candidates to how you interact with them. By learning about our biases and learning how to manage them we’ll be better able to pause our reflexive judgments and take the opportunity to make more fair, rational decisions.

Implement a policy

Next, ensure your business has a diversity policy, and one that’s actually enforced. You’ll need to develop an action plan to continuously improve it, and regularly assess the diversity makeup of candidates you’re contacting. (Here’s an example of a diversity policy written by the UK government).

But don’t stop there.

Follow through with your diversity efforts – from the images and testimonials a business uses on their website and social media platforms, to the day-to-day reality within an organization, your policy and plans all need to add up for candidates to truly have an equal opportunity.

Facilitate flexibility

Job flexibility it a growing trend, but it can have a notable impact on diversity recruitment. Jobs with rigid schedules can end up excluding otherwise qualified candidates who need to be able to make time for things like caring for children, parents, or other family members. By making jobs more flexible you open them to a wider range of candidates. One of the added benefits of this approach is that you turn your organization into one that is more results-driven than process-driven. Doing so gives people freedom which can lead to better performance.  If you’re working from a recruitment agency or as an independent recruiter, try to encourage your clients to make roles as flexible as possible (easier said than done, we know), facilitating remote working or part-time arrangements wherever appropriate.

Job descriptions

The way a job description is written can have a significant impact on diversity. Studies have shown that gendered language in job descriptions can discourage women from applying for particular roles, so you’ll need to make every effort to ‘neutralise’ the language you’re using. However, sometimes you might need to make a specific point of delivering diversity ‘proof’ to ensure that candidates feel that it’s worth their time applying. For instance, if a job is stereotypically associated with a specific gender (such as a security guard vacancy), consider explicitly stating the business’s interest in a diverse candidate pool to encourage female applicants.

Consider blind hiring

The last thing you want to do is to continue to approach variations of the same person. So, it might be worth trialing ‘blind hiring’ in some circumstances. For example, a couple of years ago Deloitte made the decision not to know where applicants went to school, college or university, working with a recruitment agency to select candidates from a set of standardized data in an attempt to encourage diversity. This made it easier to tackle unconscious bias – something you can read more about here.

Look where others haven’t

You can’t do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. Instead, part of diversity recruiting means looking in places you haven’t before – and where others generally don’t either. You may need to work with specialists, partner up with local colleges and universities, or establish your own diversity networks of professional bodies that have concentrated minority populations.

Key takeaways

With an increasingly older and more ethnically diverse population, diversity recruitment is an issue that’s going to take more prevalence in 2018  and beyond. These are the key takeaways to bear in mind if you want to feel confident you’re doing it properly:

  • Educate yourself as much as possible – keep up to date with the latest legislation and guidance documents, and seek expert advice from organizations dedicated to diversity.
  • Challenge your implicit bias – becoming self aware is a major step towards successful diversity recruiting.
  • Pay particular attention to the way you write and promote job descriptions – gendered language can hinder diversity recruitment, and remember that occasionally you’ll need to deliver diversity ‘proof’.