13 Ways to Improve Your Diversity Recruitment Strategy | Thomas.co

13 Ways to Improve Your Diversity Recruitment Strategy

When it comes to diversity in the workplace, we have heard many stories about it over the years and in more recent times, but what does it mean and why is it so important? The first is about reflecting the society that is around us whilst the later is about understanding, the more diverse workforce we have, the overall advantages we can create within our businesses and across wider society. 

With the many different perspectives and backgrounds on your team - if you do have a diverse team that is -  it will help contribute to newer and more diverse ideas that  help solve problems and drive innovation. The stats don’t lie, diverse businesses are more competitive, more profitable, easier to change and fulfill a noble role in society and the business world. Building teams from qualified candidates regardless of their gender, background, race, religion, or sexual orientation is long overdue.

In this guide you will learn about what diversity recruiting is, why it is important and the different strategies that you can use to create your own diversity recruitment.

What is diversity recruitment?

Diversity recruiting is the idea that your team should reflect the society that is all around you and that your recruitment policies are free from biases for or against any individual or group of candidates. It is still based on meritocratic systems and structured to find the best candidates whilst excluding biases from the recruitment process.

Whilst many may think diversity is primarily related to multiculturalism, diversity recruitment is actually about creating a wide ranging workforce with attributes including; age, gender, race, sexual orientation, education, background, languages, abilities and so on.

Having a more diverse workforce isn’t however easy to create or easy to manage. As a practical application diversity exists because of conflicting perspectives therefore a diverse workforce will have to deal with conflict in different ways.

What are the key areas of diversity

There are many different forms of diversity which are present within our society. They are subdivided into four main groups which include; internal, external, organizational and worldwide views. 

Internal diversity

Internal diversity characteristics are ones related to situations that a person is born into. People cannot choose these themselves and are impossible for anyone to change.

External diversity 

External diversity is in relation to a person but aren’t characteristics that a person was necessarily born with. External diversity can be heavily influenced by other people and their surroundings, even forcibly so, they ultimately are aspects that a person can change and often do over time.

Organizational diversity

Organizational diversity relates to differences between people that an organization assigns to them. Essentially, these are characteristics within a workplace that distinguish one employee from another.

Worldwide diversity

Worldview diversity is another diversity type that changes with time—we can view the world differently as we have new experiences and learn more about ourselves and each other. These can be mixtures of internal, external and even organizational diversity which help to shape this world view. 

Here are some examples of diversity in the workplace based on these four diversity groups. 

  • Cultural diversity

Cultural diversity is related to each person’s ethnicity and it’s usually the set of norms we get from the society we were raised in or our family’s values. It is common to find cultural diversity in multinational companies or organizations which have a wide pool of applicants due to a geographic location such as Geneva, New York or Amsterdam - attracting people from all over to work in a one language office. 

  • Racial diversity

Racial diversity is based purely on a person’s physical appearance - even though we have numerous scientific studies which categorically prove that race is a social construct and not biologically defined. Examples of race include, Caucasian, African, Latino, Asian.  

  • Religious diversity

Religious diversity is based on the presence of multiple religions and spiritual beliefs or associations - or the lack thereof in and around the workplace. Examples of religious diversity include, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Bhuddist and even Atheist. 

  • Age diversity

Creating age diversity policies means that you are recruiting from many different talent pools of age and most importantly different generations. The best and most current example of age diversity can include; millennials, GenZers and GenXers can coexist in the same workplace.

  • Gender diversity

Gender diversity can be determined in the traditional sense of male and female but equally it can also include terms of gender fluidity and the use of pronouns. You may hear some organizations looking to achieve a 50:50 split between employees who identify as male or female but as gender is an area which is getting increasing attention and a wider cultural understanding you may see that this approach to diversity recruitment changes in order to meet these needs.

  • Sexual orientation

Sexual orientation is an extension of the gender diversity recruitment vision.

  • Disability

Disability diversity is taking in the variety of disabilities that include chronic conditions ranging from mental to physical. Many companies will often make reasonable accommodations to help people with disabilities integrate into the workplace. This could be things such as installing ramps for wheelchairs or providing mental health support. Some companies also adjust their hiring process to make sure it's inclusive.

Why is a diversity recruiting strategy important?

There are many associated benefits of diversity strategy in your organization, and through recruitment, you can build a wide range of candidates and employees who can bring these benefits to your organization as well. In order to benefit from these advantages,  you would need to employ diversity recruiting strategies.

  • Diverse perspectives

Diversity brings about a wide variety of diverse perspectives, but what that truly means is that diversity will show the different characteristics and backgrounds of each individual.

From different experiences and wide ranging skills, a diverse workforce has many different access points to a wider variety of perspectives which is extremely beneficial when it comes to planning and executing a business strategy.

  • Boosted creativity

It has been shown countless times that a diverse workforce is more creative. The different perspectives that are brought together in an environment will bring fresh, new ideas and in return, improve the creativity of your workforce.

  • Greater innovation

Inclusive companies are “1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market” according to Josh Bersin’s research

The more employees that are exposed to wider perspectives and worldviews will benefit in more innovative solutions and ideas. Combining these views can often lead to opening the doors to more innovation.

  • Improved decision making

Researchers have found that when diverse teams made a business decision, they outperformed individual decision-makers up to 87% of the time. This was research conducted from a white paper from the online decision-making platform Cloverpop.

  • Increased productivity

Again, the more we can create a diverse workforce that focuses on talents, skills and abilities, the more positive impact that it will have on productivity.

  • Maximize profits

One of the latest reports from the consulting group, Mckinsey, titled ‘Diversity Wins’, has highlighted the financial risk businesses take when they ignore diversity at the top. Their research has found that companies with the most ethnically diverse boards outperformed those with the least diverse boards by 36%.

Other research points to the cash flows of diverse companies which are 2.3 times higher than those of companies with more monolithic staff. Diverse companies are “70% more likely to capture new markets than organizations that do not actively recruit and support talent from under-represented groups.”

  • Reduced employee churn

A more diverse workforce is generally more inclusive of different individual characteristics and perspectives. This leads to greater inclusion which means that employees feel more accepted and valued. The more diverse the workplace, the lower the turnover rates.

  • Higher employee engagement

As with reduced turnover, the principals of engagement remain very similar. With more people having the shared knowledge and experiences of feeling like they may not traditionally fit into the workplace, the more diverse the teams, the less that this is an issue.


How to assess diversity in the workplace

Firstly, you will need to take a comprehensive look at the existing workforce which means, taking an inventory of employees' skill sets, backgrounds, and culture.

What is it that your company is lacking? What are the reasons for this? Once you can answer these questions, only then can you start to develop a diversity recruitment strategy and solutions for improving the situation.

How to measure diversity

There is no real standard metric for measuring diversity in the workplace, however, there are ways to measure diversity as per according to your requirements.

Firstly you can compare who is applying for roles vs who is actually getting the job. Teams can end up having many individuals of a similar age, background, ethnicity etc very easily. This can highlight a bias in recruitment and therefore, it’s not only measurable as a stat but also something you can quickly fix.

Secondly, look at your leadership team. This is where a lack of diversity can be greater highlighted for many organizations. Your junior or management teams may have greater diversity than your board of directors and if this is the case, you need to create diversity initiatives that help with recruitment into these senior leadership positions.

Thirdly, there is job satisfaction and inclusion. Whilst they are not necessarily linked you can measure specific subject areas that help you better understand if employees feel welcomed at their job.

Diversity and inclusion KPIs

Once you have a greater understanding of how diversity is measured, you can start to apply some KPIs which will help with your diversity recruitment strategy. 

These KPIs are guidelines and you should remember to keep your recruitment strategy open to everyone who can complete the job that they are being asked to do.

  • Recruitment figures
    • As per the previous section, understanding who is being recruited vs who is applying is an interesting insight into the potential recruitment bias. 
    • The numbers of applicants from various groups - age, background, ethnicity, experience etc. 
    • Figures can help determine how biased or broad recruitment efforts are.
  • Selection figures
    • Is your company hiring a wide range of candidates, or are certain groups over-represented? Are teams starting to look very similar and like one another - with little differences in things like age or ethnicity?
    • Comparing figures to recruitment numbers can provide further insight into a company’s hiring processes.
  • Promotion figures
    • Who gets promoted at the company? 
    • Are individuals from certain groups more likely to get promoted than others from underrepresented groups?
    • These statistics can help determine if promotions are being awarded fairly.
  • Pay comparisons
    • How do salaries and benefits of different employees compare? 
    • Are some groups of people making less than others?
    • These metrics can reveal bias related to pay and benefits.
  • Representation figures
    • Compare your organization with the local community and other companies in the same industry.
    • Are there groups of people who are underrepresented in your company compared to your community or industry?
  • Retention figures
    • Who is staying and who is leaving?
    • Are people from diverse groups remaining on board or are they leaving?
    • Figures can help uncover management or culture issues that may hinder your growth and diversity.
  • Employee engagement figures
    • How engaged are the members of your team? 
    • Do you see different levels of involvement from different people?
    • Helps uncover biased practices that may be affecting some employees more than others.
  • Customer diversity figures
    • How diverse is your customer or client base?
    • Not directly about employees - but can reflect attitudes in an organization.
    • Insight can help expand a customer base.
  • Supplier diversity figures
    • How diverse are your suppliers?
    • Evaluating these relationships can help in deciding whether to opt for new suppliers who can help improve the overall diversity of your company.
  • Exit interviews
    • Exit interviews can provide extremely valuable insight.
    • What are the primary reasons why people are leaving?

KPIs and these metrics in particular have become a useful tool for many organizations however, they remain primarily quantitative. They are designed to give an end outputted number but rarely give any qualitative assessment of the candidates or the potential recruitment situation.

These have become increasingly important for organizations as they can give a greater insight into the recruitment behavior and how an organization treats its employees.

Using surveys and interviews, organizations with their hiring managers and recruitment teams can get a better understanding of the current recruitment strategy and how they can better diversify their recruitment practices. 

The Gartner Inclusion Index uses the following 7 statements to qualitatively assess diversity.

  • Fair treatment - Employees at my organization who help the organization achieve its strategic objectives are rewarded and recognized fairly.
  • Integrating differences - Employees at my organization respect and value each other’s opinions.
  • Decision making - Members of my team fairly consider ideas and suggestions offered by other team members.
  • Psychological safety - I feel welcome to express my true feelings at work.
  • Trust - Communication we receive from the organization is honest and open.
  • Belonging - People in my organization care about me.
  • Diversity - Managers at my organization are as diverse as the broader workforce.

The Gartner Inclusion Index effectively states that the greater the degree to which employees agree with these statements, the more inclusive the organisation. Using these statements in a survey format wherein respondents allocate scores based on their degree of agreement is an effective tactic.

Diversity recruiting strategies

A diversity recruiting strategy should define the goals of recruitment and will often be part of an overall diversity and inclusion policy. Recruitment is just part of making the cultural changes happen in the workplace. Your D & I policy should reflect questions about what the recruitment process is going to look like and how you will achieve diversity and inclusion in your strategies.

The second most important part of the diversity recruiting strategy is identifying who is accountable for the results. Is it going to be HR? Is it going to be department heads? Is it going to be the board of directors? Usually, the task sits in HR but it is then shared across departments to highlight processes and procedures of this recruitment style.

Finally, your diversity recruitment strategy should set out how the results of this strategy will be assessed and measured.

These are just some of the various strategies that are used to develop a diversity recruiting strategy. 

Target diverse candidates

Instead of targeting candidates from just one source, i.e. web recruiting platform, reach out to different platforms to get a wider selection of candidates. Something as simple as a job posting on social media like LinkedIn or even Instagram can provide a wider sample alongside web recruitment than you may realize.

You need to identify the relevant channels through which to reach diverse audiences with vacancy advertisements. For example, there are many online and offline groups dedicated to women in technology. This would widen your search to be more directed towards this type of candidate.

Encourage referrals from existing staff

A candidate referral program is something that you will have either heard of or experienced. But for diverse groups it may not occur to them that they can recommend friends or people that they know with similar backgrounds and experiences to put in an application.

The current workforce can be a good lightning rod of getting new job postings out to the wider community and for that specific demographic as well. Key to this is that existing personnel who are in specific, targeted groups are most of the time best placed to introduce other people like themselves. 

Develop and promote the organizations diversity credentials

Undergoing some brand development in recruitment is a good way to showcase your D & I recruitment vision. Discuss the benefits and importance of diversity with your team, get their buy in and engrain those values into your company culture.

Being an organization which can show that it values differences, people and opinions from all walks of life will help it to become recognized as a diverse employer.

Establish diversity and inclusivity policies

You need to live daily values when it comes to recruiting diverse candidates and not just say you do. It is why it has become so important to implement company policies that appeal to diverse candidates.

Things like understanding religious holidays, encouraging flexible working hours so that candidates can see an upside in still continuing to support their communities whilst also working means that you become instantly more appealing to a wider group of people.

One key thing that needs to be expanded on is how employees need to be encouraged to speak up if they think certain policies are hindering diversity in any way. It is easy to get caught up in individual biases and how they navigate across the workplace, so it’s important to encourage open and honest dialogue to ensure everyone feels welcome.

If you want to encourage diversity in your recruitment process, then having policies like this and actively promoting them is a great way to get buy-in across the whole business


Introduce diversity targets

One way to increase diversity is to set diversity targets, this could be as a percentage of the total number of the staff or a number that has been carefully thought of and considered across the board. Whilst this may be appealing to some, the practice can be disapproved by others.

Manage the process correctly and show that there has been no bias in selecting candidates and this mechanism could be beneficial to the business as a whole. 

Avoid unconscious bias

We are all naturally biased when it comes to a myriad of things. The music we listen to, the people we hang out with, the things we decide to purchase over another and so on. Unconscious bias dictates the way we behave most of the time, and in a diversity and inclusion recruitment strategy, we want to minimize its impact as much as we can.

One of the measures that can be taken in unconscious bias training for all involved in the recruitment process. This will help to mitigate some of the more human prone errors in selecting candidates, from C.V. stage to sending out a job offer. 

Another method which can be used is using blind resumes where you “black out” any and all personal information on resumes. Information like names, schools, date of birth, specific locations, and so on can all contribute to some degree in a biased assessment of the candidate - even if it’s not done consciously.

And another measure which can be used is, blind interviews. It works the same way as a resume but it uses text based questions and different recruitment platforms to discover more about the candidate's abilities and skills. 

Consider diversity when defining job descriptions

Auditing your job adverts to attract more diverse candidates is essential but it's also important not to alienate any groups of people through the language used in job descriptions.

Find a way to be more inclusive in your job descriptions, remove any use of languages or ideas which could make potential candidates think you are looking for a specific gender, ethnicity or any other diverse background only apply. 

For example, you could modify any language or terminology which will put some potentially valuable candidates off.

Ensure consistent interview procedures

Whenever you standardize something you are making it easier to compare and contrast. Well in interviewing for diverse candidates, you want to be able to do the same and one of the best ways to do so is by using the same questions and the same interview procedures for all candidates. This helps to mitigate the risk of unconscious bias and give you a better benchmark to compare candidates against.

Offer remote and flexible working opportunities

As already touched upon, being able to offer solutions which help to increase or widen the diversity of candidates is going to be essential. Remote and flexible working opportunities are just one of the key elements of being able to reach out to a wider range of people. 

For those who have commitments like children or looking after a relative with sickness, being able to offer flexible and remote working opportunities will appeal to their needs as well as that of the business. 

Provide valuable training opportunities

One of the best ways to retain your staff is to provide them with training opportunities, but did you also know that staff who have benefited from employer-provided training tend to be more loyal to their employer?

Also, by providing training it means that people who don’t immediately have the necessary skills for a role might apply because they know that they can upskill in the role. 

Offer mentoring

As with training, mentoring is an attractive way to encourage many diverse applicants to consider handing in that application. Those who lack confidence but have all the skills find themselves reluctant to apply - this is where mentoring can change that.

Build a diverse recruitment team

If you really want to build a diversified team, then you need people who understand what that looks like and what that means. A diverse recruitment team can not only implement the strategy but also add to it.

Useful tools for improving diversity in your recruitment strategy

In order to help better improve your diversity recruitment strategy, there are a series of tools that you can use to do this. These include things like;

Computerized resume screening

Look for technology that can take a lot of the hard work out of resume reading and automates the most tedious and time-consuming part of their day: screening resumes and shortlisting candidates.

This technology helps to increase diversity by replacing manual shortlisting. Equally important is that you have a system that objectively and consistently applies shortlisting criteria across all candidate - which reduces problems related to compliance and discrimination.

By having a computerised resume screening software that lives inside your existing ATS you can create candidate shortlists without disruptions to your  workflow or the candidate application process.

Software like this uses your existing resume database to learn about employees’ experience, education, and other characteristics and applies this knowledge to new applicants. It can then  rate, rank, and shortlist the strongest candidates, with reduced unconscious biases.

Blind resume review tools

One of the big changes that has happened in recent times is that you have names removed from a candidate’s resume. The theory is that by removing the candidate’s name from his or her application, it helps recruiters make decisions with reduced unconscious biases of the candidate’s race and gender. 

You can take this one step further by removing other information from resumes such as the university/college they went to, the graduation year and even addresses.

It equally helps you to identify high quality candidates as it enables you to more objectively evaluate a candidate’s skills, knowledge, and potential to succeed.

Using software that is not dedicated to anonymizing profiles and resumes, it can be time-consuming or even impossible to do on your own.

Blind interviews

You can extend the idea of blind resumes with the blind interview technique. 

By removing personal identifying information from an application and getting candidates to anonymously answer job-related questions, companies are starting to embrace the blind interview process.

The recruitment process for candidates at most organizations includes phone screening which is nearly impossible for anyone to anonymously voice unless you use specific technology that will do this for you.

Psychometric assessments

You can use psychometric assessments to identify the right candidates and help your people develop their potential.
By taking out the bias from recruiting and using these tests, you can better identify candidates who will be best suited to a wider diversity recruitment strategy. 

Using the right tools like Thomas Psychometric assessments can help.


Diversity recruiting is the idea that your team should reflect the society that is all around you and that your recruitment policies are free from biases for or against any individual or group of candidates. There are many different techniques that you can use to create your own diversity recruitment strategy including, getting referrals from staff, providing training, blind CVs and so much more.

The Thomas whitepaper covers this topic in Rethinking Workplace Diversity which you can read on the following link.