At some point during every year of my career since 1993 the topic of diversity recruiting has been discussed with someone – hiring manager, my immediate manager, my manager’s manager, executives, other recruiters, vendors, and auditors. The conversations have not changed much since the early ’90’s.
*”What are we doing to ensure we are attracting a diverse slate of candidates?”
*”How many diverse hires have we had this year?”
*”We want to advertise on specific diversity sites so we can attract diverse candidates.”
What prompted me to write this post is an email I recently received from a company pitching their ability to recruit diverse talent and that diversity recruitment was one of the “hottest topics in corporate America” today. Really? It has been a topic my entire career and beyond! We discussed diversity recruitment in one of my HR classes in college.
Why are we still discussing diversity recruitment?
Part of the reason is the various government agencies at state and Federal levels that require reporting and proof of diversity recruitment efforts. This has spawned an industry to help you pull your data and get it into an acceptable reporting format along with advertisement plans “to meet your EEOC requirements” and companies that will post your jobs to the required state agencies for you. Another reason is that executives have not been kept in the loop on what their HR and Talent Acquisition employees are doing to meet and exceed these requirements.
My “Ah-Ha” Moment
Let me back this up a bit. During the mid to late ’90’s I met regularly with the two big job boards at the time – CareerBuilder and Monster – to discuss our recruitment strategy. I would ask their opinion on where I should post jobs to ensure that we were attracting diverse candidates. A rep from one of these sites said – “We have demographic data on our resume database and limited data on those that apply to jobs on our site – candidates go where the jobs are posted.” I thought that was obvious but then replied “What do you mean?” Their response – “An African American is not only going to go to the African American sites to look for a job, Asian, Hispanic or women candidates are not going to only go to the sites that appeal to their race or gender – they are going to go where the most jobs are posted.” We were at lunch so I put my fork down, wiped my mouth and sat silent for a moment and then the full realization of the statement hit me.
This is before “big data”, the onslaught of ATS’s, social media and SaaS services. I was receiving resumes via fax or USPS, printing them from job boards, or receiving resume books from colleges and universities. I had no way of effectively collecting data on our candidate pool. The job boards could analyze their sites and provide information to their clients. That statement – “They are going where the most jobs are posted” – was my diversity recruitment plan. Whether it was CB or Monster back then or Indeed, SimplyHired or sponsored ads on Google more recently that was my plan. Everything else was to meet government requirements and “good faith” efforts or in some cases to pacify a VP. As time went on and technology improved for corporate recruiting I could pull my own data and show that the good faith efforts and unique sites were not going to produce a significant number of diverse hires – if any at all.
Don’t get me wrong – I have consistently pushed my teams and myself to identify new sources and unique sources over the years. In fact, a performance goal I have used many times is to have the recruiter(s) identify at least one new source each quarter. It could not just be a job board posting but a visit with the entity, and some kind of activity – resume writing seminar, interview skills workshop, or job fair. This meant that the recruiters would need to identify a local organization that supported people in some category of “diversity” and build a relationship. If we got a hire out of it – excellent and a great story to tell. If we didn’t get a hire out of it, no worries because I knew that me and my team would be better off for going out. The initial goal may have been a check box on the performance review but my team would always come back and tell me how great it was to help others and they learned something as well. To me this is community involvement or corporate responsibility not diversity recruiting.
My Definition of Diversity Recruiting
Using data from the ATS I have shown the source and diversity make-up of our candidate pool at various employers. Time and again “the statement” kept ringing true. The candidates were coming from sources where the most jobs were posted and consistently the diversity make-up reflected the community we served. Depending on your employer diversity could mean different things when it comes to recruiting. It may not about race and gender but about diversity of thought, or it is purely about the race and gender numbers and for others it is a mix ensuring that hires come from a balance of sources providing a variety of educational, race, gender, veteran, disability backgrounds.
What is diversity recruiting? To answer my own question – it is ensuring that the sources used not only identify the best talent available but expose the openings to all available candidate pools. It is not running ads in magazines or on sites that “will meet your EEOC requirements”. It is working with vendors to learn the demographics of their audience/users and making a decision on posting the job where the most eyeballs are going to see it. Job boards are still very effective in driving a diverse candidate pool and they have relationships with a multitude of diversity sites. The job aggregators will pick them up as well and that will get your posting on the search engines. It’s not sexy, it’s not that creative but it sure is effective.
I welcome your thoughts.