If you’re a hiring manager, recruiter, or owner of a small business, you may wonder how to increase the diversity of your staff while recruiting the best people for the job. First, make sure you and the rest of your hiring team are on the same page when it comes to the definition of “diversity.” While you may assume diversity is synonymous with ethnicity, your business partner may include gender and sexual orientation in the mix. Still another team member may want to focus on hiring neurodiverse individuals (such as people on the autism spectrum) and those with physical disabilities.
All of the above populations can be considered diverse — and so can age, level of experience, and personal background. When recruiting new employees, you should aim for a pool that recognizes talent while allowing for differences in human experiences. The National Association of Minority Speakers (NAMS) presents some things to remember when you begin diversifying your workforce.
1. Focus on Hiring Local Freelance Talent
Hiring local freelancers opens up your job postings to people from all backgrounds. When looking at freelance talent on online job boards, you have access to a more diverse pool of candidates than you may find going through a major agency. You can even specify in your job descriptions that you are seeking diverse candidates or that you are an LGBTQ-friendly workplace. Often, perfectly capable employees shy away from job postings of employers who they think may not accept them for who they are. Let them know that you will consider any qualified candidate without question and without discrimination.
While it’s not necessary to interview everyone who applies for the job, it’s a good idea to keep an open mind. For example, perhaps that 18-year-old who has already taken college-level web development courses and built his personal website from scratch could design yours without a problem. Plus, by hiring locally, you can support your community.
2. Learn More About Accessibility
People with physical disabilities may not consider your workplace if it is not easily navigable for someone with a disability — or if you don’t understand how important accessibility features are. If you wish to hire someone who uses a wheelchair, you should be willing to make accommodations to your office location (if they are not already in place) so that he or she is able to access the bathroom, the kitchen area, and devices used for work, such as a printer, copier, or cash register.
3. Be Aware of Your Own Biases
You likely have received applications from several qualified candidates, but you may be hesitant to interview people whom you view as different from yourself in terms of race, socioeconomic background, or gender. According to Harvard Business Review, this thought pattern represents a common psychological bias. Consider taking names off resumes if you feel that this will distract you (or someone you’re hiring with). If you’re interested in speaking to certain candidates based solely on their resumes and qualifications, go with your gut and call them in.
4. Work With a Diversity Recruiter
If you are having trouble finding diverse candidates to add to your talent pool for interviewing, don’t worry! Consider working with a recruiting agency that specializes in finding the best people for the job and bringing them to you.
Even employers who wish to hire diverse candidates may not know where to look for them. Consider broadening your reach to freelancers, having conversations with those you feel are qualified, and working with a diversity recruiter to find the right person for every job.