Equitable Candidate Sourcing
Introduction: Toss out the “pipeline problem” mentality
A common lament heard when recruiting for diversity is “It’s a pipeline problem! Diverse candidates simply don’t exist in this industry.” However, more often than not, rather than a pipeline problem, homogeneity of candidates can instead be traced to outdated recruiting techniques that make it hard to reach a wide talent pool. Another common stumbling block is a failure to demonstrate an inclusive culture that appeals to candidates of different backgrounds and demographics. This is particularly true for industries that have historically been homogenous. After all, if candidates don’t feel that the company culture will welcome them, they are unlikely to accept, or even apply for, the job.
In this article, we’ll cover a few techniques for recruiting for diversity. It’s important to keep in mind that these will only be successful if they are implemented hand-in-hand with long-term efforts to build an inclusive working environment, and with the use of bias-reducing tactics throughout the entire hiring processes, such hiring scorecards and intentionally inclusive job ads.
We encourage you to use these tactics in addition to traditional methods of candidate sourcing, such as LinkedIn and Indeed.
Lean less on referrals
At times, referrals can be a great way to find new talent. However, referrals are a key place where “similarity-to-self” bias is likely to sneak in. This is the tendency for us to get along best with those who are similar to us in looks, background, or interests. When referrals are used in a workplace that is already quite homogenous, they serve to perpetuate that homogeneity, and we see the same patterns again and again.
Transparency about the recruitment and hiring processes helps to level the playing field for those who are new to the industry. Ensure that potential candidates have access to information about what to expect during the hiring process, the salary range, and the hiring timeline.
Reach out to local diversity and inclusion groups
One of the best ways to reach a diverse talent pool is via diversity and inclusion community and professional groups.
Step one: research groups in your area
LinkedIn, meetup, and of course an online search are good places to start. For some groups, a phone call or an in-person meeting may be the best way to move forward. A few types of groups to seek out include:
Step two: build trust
It takes time to build trust with anyone, but particularly with groups that have historically been marginalized. Some ways to build trust include:
Most importantly: be consistent. Follow through on all promises and demonstrate through actions that you are an ally to their group. Expect that it may take many events over several months before groups warm up to you.
Step 3: Ask about job ad placement
While some channels for posting job ads may be obvious, such as a job board on a website, others may be less transparent, such as members-only email lists. Let the organizers know that you’re interested in supporting their group and ask how you can share job opportunities with their members.
It’s okay to ask about job ad placement during the first call or email, but keep in mind that it may take some time to build trust first. Also, some organizations charge a fee for posting on job boards or advertising in emails, so a small budget may be necessary.
Conclusion: Embrace learning and curiosity
Working towards equitable candidate sourcing is a fantastic opportunity to grow personally. Throughout the process, you’ll likely find yourself wondering things like “Why do these groups exist?” and “What kinds of things are important to certain groups?” These are important questions. The rich diversity in the United States is one that holds a history of inequities, many that continue to this day. To improve your outreach, consider reading articles, watching TED Talks, or reading books related to the different demographic groups you’re reaching out to. Curiosity and an open mind will take you a long way.