Adopting Diversity and Inclusion into your Hiring Practices

Joined hands over a table.

Many organizations have diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategies and initiatives in place which are intended to ensure that all employees are treated fairly and to prevent and address any equity discrepancies.  Benefits often seen from implementing DEI include improvements to company performance, increased employee engagement and higher retention rates.

While these organizational motives make strong business sense, there are also good cultural reasons which add indirect but definite value as well. Prospective employees feel best being part of, and working for a company that has strong cultural values.  Our differences, qualities and experiences add business value, and a diverse group of employees broaden company strengths as they contribute in unique ways.  Strong cultural reasons for supporting DEI are also good business reasons.

If you have launched “Cultural Awareness” or “Mutual Respect” training in the workplace, you will fully appreciate and understand how much your employees learn from each other when it comes to cultural upbringing, beliefs, and values.  We don’t need to adopt or follow one’s beliefs, but it certainly helps to understand and accept our differences and learn and appreciate what makes us unique.  Within the work environment it’s important to respect and accommodate our differences even though these may not align with one’s own views and belief system.

Why should DEI be included in your hiring process?

In your attempt to attract a broader range of applicants with a wide range of skills and experience, an organization with a consistent DEI hiring process will often be generally viewed as an employer of choice. Having a diverse culture will allow your employees to feel valued in what they, as individuals, bring to the organization.

In addition to broadening the organizational talent pool, having a diverse and inclusive company culture will contribute to employee effectiveness.  As your team feels safe and valued, they will be much more comfortable and likely more productive.  Team members will not feel it necessary to hide or filter their differences and will be unlikely to experience negative feelings of fear or intimidation in the workplace.  Should conflict or tension arise (as these naturally will from time to time), it is also much more likely to be appropriately raised and therefore addressed before becoming toxic and undermining the team.  Having an effective DEI program and approach also has the potential to increase overall organizational performance and growth.

Making sure your job descriptions and job postings are inclusive:

  • Set aside time to review your job descriptions and generic job postings to ensure the language and benefits are inclusive to all diverse backgrounds.
  • Using consistent, gender-neutral job postings can help you reach out to a more inclusive selection of candidates. You may be surprised to find bias language in both your old job descriptions and job postings.  In previous hiring eras, DEI awareness was lacking. Review postings carefully and update language to reflect current expectations.
  • Avoid using “she” and “he” and rather use “you”, “them” or “they.”
  • Avoid words or phrases that are linked to a certain gender stereotype such as “dominate” or “driven.”
  • Avoid using bias terms like “illegal immigrants,” or “illegal.”  Instead use terms such as “unauthorized” if the individual doesn’t have the relevant paperwork or approval to work in the country.
  • Ensure your job postings are inclusive of people from all types of backgrounds when it comes to age, marital status, gender, or disability.
  • Avoid listing too many job requirements as this can keep underrepresented groups from applying. Focus instead on the most important qualities for the position through prioritization of skills and experience. 

Diversity hiring isn’t just about creating a positive company image but is vital to attract different ideas, skills, and backgrounds.  All groups should have an equal opportunity to apply for an advertised position and the best candidates should be considered regardless of background.

If you are struggling to find diverse candidates based on your location or job opening, consider contacting government agencies that help support landed immigrants in finding employment.  You may be surprised when you find unique or rare talent from diverse applicants that have the exact skills you are looking for.  Don’t be afraid to give these applicants an opportunity as you may be thrilled with your hiring decision.

Ensure you ask candidates questions about diversity, equity, and inclusion as this is essential in hiring practices.  As much as you are keen to hire diverse candidates, it’s also important that those candidates demonstrate these values themselves.

Examples of diversity and inclusion interview questions:

  1. Can you tell us what diversity, equity and inclusion means to you?
  2. How would you react if a colleague was culturally insensitive?
  3. Why do you think it’s important to work in a diverse organization?
  4. What are some of your concerns working in a diverse environment?
  5. Have you been in a situation where you found communication challenging because of your different backgrounds and language skills?  What did you do to overcome this?
  6. As a manager, how do you ensure your coworkers feel welcomed and inclusive within the team?
  7. Have you had any experiences launching any diversity initiatives within any of your roles?
  8. Are there any areas in diversity that you feel you still need to learn and if so, how would you go about doing that?

Asking the right questions is key!  As the hiring manager, you want to gain a better understanding of the candidate’s beliefs, values, and their personal background and experiences. Note any negative or uncomfortable body language such as crossing arms, fidgeting movements or defensiveness.  It’s not always easy to answer DEI questions but building these questions into your hiring will give you an opportunity to view how open-minded candidates will be when it comes to accepting and respecting all diversity and contributing to the diverse and accepting culture you are looking to build.

Building a solid DEI culture begins with your hiring practice. Contact Bridge Legal and HR Solutions to assist you with implementing or improving your diversity recruitment strategy. For more information contact (647) 794-5442 or at admin@bridgelegalhr.ca 

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