8 Data-driven diversity hiring practices

Angela Lin
Angela is a Data Science and English major at UC Berkeley who juggles interests in machine learning with short fiction. Outside of writing blog posts, she can be found painting Bay Area views or trying new recipes.

DEI hiring in 2023

More and more companies are committing to building diverse and inclusive workplaces. It’s easy to see why DEI has become a top priority in recent years. Study after study shows how diverse teams perform better, have higher engagement, make better decisions, and attract more talent. And the emerging workforce is more diverse than ever, making this a crucial time to tap into underrepresented talent. 

But even though everyone’s thinking about diversity, there’s still a long path ahead. The majority of candidates and employees want to see greater progress in DEI. That's why we’ve compiled findings from recent studies by McKinsey and RippleMatch to come up with the 10 best practices to hire with more diversity and inclusivity. 

Here’s our data-driven strategies to focus your DEI efforts in 2023.

1. Set smart goals and understand your “why”

Planning a diverse hiring strategy starts with goal setting. Your goals should provide the direction and purpose behind your efforts. This is why loosely defined goals like “Increase gender equity at our company” aren’t very helpful when it comes to implementing the plan to get there. 

To fix this, one common goal setting framework is the acronym SMART. Here’s an example of how to take a well-intentioned but unhelpful goal and turn it into something actionable and achievable. 

Original goal: Increase gender equity at our company. 

  • Specific: This is to help you break down big complex goals into manageable chunks. For our example, we can narrow the focus from the entire company to a specific part of the leadership pipeline. 

Better goal: Increase gender equity in senior leadership roles.

  • Measurable: The best goals have an easy way of tracking progress and results. Find a metric to evaluate success and make a plan for gathering data like employee surveys.

Better goal: Increase the percentage of women in senior leadership roles from 25% to 50%. 

  • Attainable:  It’s good to set ambitious goals, but shooting too high can lead to discouragement instead of motivation. Think about the time and resources that you can realistically invest into your goal. Another strategy is referencing industry data – women held 32% of senior leadership roles in 2022. The leap from 25% to 50% is too big. That doesn’t mean it isn’t ever possible, but it's more helpful to set incremental goals. 

Better goal: Increase the percentage of women in senior leadership roles from 25% to 35%. 

  • Relevant: This is about connecting your goal with your team’s larger values and mission. Your goal needs a compelling “why?” to get people to care. This is especially true for DEI goals which run the risk of being considered performative. By communicating relevance, you show why diversity goals really matter.  

Better goal: Increase the percentage of women in senior leadership roles from 25% to 35% to bring more diverse perspectives to our team. 

  • Time-bound: Goals without deadlines often fall by the wayside and aren’t seen through. Set a clear timeframe to make your goal a priority and make progress measurable. You can set short-term checkpoints to make sure you’re on track. 

Better goal: Within the next year, increase the percentage of women in leadership roles from 25% to 35% to bring more diverse perspectives to our team.

2. Engage in unconscious bias training

We all have biases – it’s part of human nature. But this means that recruiters and hiring managers have to be aware of their biases and find ways to combat it. One way of doing this is through courses and workshops on unconscious bias. There are two ways to make these training sessions as effective as possible.

First, bias training isn’t a one and done process. Biases can resurface in different situations over time and it takes continuous effort to overcome them. That’s why it's a good idea to share bias reminders before hiring processes to reinforce fair practices. 

Second, training that’s paired with accountability measures are more likely to be successful. This means that completing the training is only the first step, you also have to gauge if they lead to positive changes in behavior and hiring practices. Like other aspects of DEI initiatives, treat bias training as an ongoing effort that adapts based on the results. 

3. Source diverse candidates through different channels

Sourcing is about finding and meeting candidates where they’re at. So if you’re focused on sourcing diverse candidates, it’s helpful to widen the net beyond common platforms like LinkedIn. There are many platforms and job boards that are dedicated to connecting underrepresented talent with open roles. Here’s a few: 

  • Apres: a job board specifically for talented moms looking to re-enter the workforce
  • Black Career’s Women’s Network: a career development platform dedicated to the professional growth of black women. 

There are also diverse professional groups that can help broaden your talent pools. The Society of Women Engineers and the National Society of Hispanic MBAs are some examples of organizations that host conferences and networking events. 

4. Write inclusive and transparent job postings

The language and wording of job descriptions matter. Gender equality studies have shown how job postings with masculine coded words can deter women from applying. In general, stick to gender neutral words and use language that’s also inclusive of age, race, and disability. Women are also more likely than men to not apply to jobs that don’t match their qualifications 100%. So make sure your job requirements are updated and focus on the essentials. 

Another part of job postings is the listed salary. In our blog on the impact of pay transparency, we discussed how openness about pay during the recruiting process leads to more efficient hires. It turns out that it also affects diverse recruiting too. In Ripplematch’s 2023 Diversity in the Workplace report, they found that 70% of Black women believe that pay transparency is crucial to D&I. So on top of being clear about the job requirements, also provide clarity on the compensation you’re offering to candidates. 

5. Diversify interview panels

Seeing is believing. Ripplematch’s report also found that the number one factor that candidates value when evaluating DEI efforts is “Interacting with a diverse set of individuals throughout the hiring process.” This makes a way bigger impression than a company’s public statements in the press or on their website. It shows how diversity efforts are the most effective when they’re focused at a personal level. For candidates, their experience during interviews is a window into what it’ll feel like to be a part of the company. 

Diverse interview panels also have the benefit of bringing different voices and opinions when making hiring decisions. This can help mitigate the effect of individual biases and lead to better decision making. So putting in the effort to diversify interview panels improves the hiring process for both the employer and the candidate. Puck’s job page product is one efficient way to leverage your diverse teammates as part of the hiring process. But it isn’t the only way.

6. Set clear criteria for hiring decisions

Establishing the criteria for hiring decisions levels the playing field for every candidate. Making this criteria as specific as possible helps to encourage objective and fair evaluation. Before you go into each interview, plan out the questions you want to ask and how you’ll grade responses. Standardizing this process prevents you from relying on “trusting your gut” which often magnifies personal bias. 

There’s been several studies about how structured versus unstructured interviews affect hiring decisions. On top of reducing implicit bias, structured interviews also are a better predictor of job performance, save time, and make candidates happier.

7. Create an inclusive culture

At its core, diversity and inclusion is about culture. The goal is to create a community where people can show up, be their authentic self, and feel supported. So when it comes to communicating your culture to candidates, you have to show how you support the individuals on your team. It’s hard to connect with high-level values, you have to get personal and give examples. 

Take “We value diversity and equal opportunity” for example. It’s missing substance and uniqueness. This could be on any company’s DEI page, and candidates don’t know what valuing diversity actually looks like day to day. Instead, show instead of tell, with something like “We started a mentorship program for women of color.” 

And remember that each interaction with a candidate gives them an impression of the company’s culture. So being understanding, kind, and honest during the recruitment process goes a long way.

8. Monitor, reflect, and adjust

Investing in DEI is about making long term changes. It takes time, continuous effort, and evaluating success regularly. The most effective diversity and inclusion practices will look different for different companies. Regularly gather candidate and employee feedback and track metrics to keep a pulse on what’s working and what needs work.  

Your company culture changes with each person you bring on the team. This means that being intentional and inclusive during the recruitment process is incredibly important for shaping the future of your company.

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