Why and How to Hire for Diversity

Rylaan

In the workshops I teach, I often talk about hiring for fit with an organizational culture. When I say this, I mean that we should be hiring applicants for the way they connect with our organizational culture and its values. On one level, it is important to hire people whom we can appreciate and enjoy. However, the risk in focusing only on people we like is that we begin to hire for homogeneity. And this is the opposite of building a resilient diversified team.

One way to guard against homogeneity is to add a focus on hiring for cultural diversity to your interviewing process. People from different cultural backgrounds will often bring unique ways of thinking and relating onto their teams, which builds the overall strength of the team. They may also bring the ability to connect with different communities of people, and with different clients or customers of your organization through their language skills and personal connections.

In order to hire for diversity, consider doing two things. First, expand your recruitment efforts by posting your job advertisement in non-traditional places like employment service centers, new immigrant support organizations, community boards, and local ethnic centers and publications.

Second, make sure that your hiring process eliminates as much unconscious bias as possible. Recognize that many people are unconsciously biased towards anglicized names. This can be partially mitigated by removing names from the resumés and using numbers in their place during the resumé review stage. Also make sure to focus on the content of an applicant’s resumé, and on answers to questions rather than on the style and length, as these vary from place to place.

And finally, don’t let accents scare you away from an otherwise qualified candidate. Assess whether the applicant has enough language proficiency for the actual communication requirements of the job. Assuming they do, then focus on finding ways to improve their spoken language through tutoring or classes.

Like many things related to creating a culture where people like to work, building diversified teams is an intentional and focused process. Without this specific focus on diversification, we tend to bring new people into our teams who are just like us. In our efforts to hire people who fit our culture, and are not disruptive to the positive things about it, we need to be careful not to simply surround ourselves with people who are identical to us.

Eric Stutzman, Managing Director
ACHIEVE Centre for Leadership & Workplace Performance

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