Prioritizing diversity in hiring: How to take a meaningful approach

Recruiter taking notes after candidate phone interview

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Committing to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) isn’t just about ticking off a box on your to-do list. It involves serious self-reflection, especially when it comes to your talent acquisition practices. And sometimes it means having tough conversations about what’s not working and why.

At the recent Open Forum event, Building Belonging, Greenhouse’s Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Jamie Adasi sat down with Stacey Gordon, Executive Advisor & Diversity Strategist at Rework Work. In their conversation, A meaningful approach: Embedding DE&I into the DNA of talent acquisition, they discuss how to take a holistic approach to DE&I. Stacey shares her recommendations for creating more inclusive hiring practices and building connections between talent acquisition teams and hiring managers.

Find the highlights of their discussion below or watch the on-demand recording for even more tips on prioritizing DE&I in your own hiring practices.


It all starts with awareness

How do you rethink hiring with a DE&I lens? “Before you can take action, you need to start with awareness,” says Stacey. Begin by auditing your current hiring process. Where are people falling through the cracks? Who owns those processes? Gathering this information is the first step.

Once you begin to see patterns, you can work with people to get them on board with the necessary changes. This often involves establishing alignment with your DE&I strategy. Ensure everyone has a clear understanding of your goals and how their actions can contribute.

After you’re aligned on your goals, you can start making changes. That might mean sourcing from different places, changing up your screening tactics or making sure your interview processes are standardized – but you won’t know that if you jump right into action.


Don’t play the blame game

Stacey acknowledges that recruiter and hiring manager relations can often be strained. Hiring managers might blame recruiters for bringing in a limited talent pool while recruiters fault hiring managers for having unrealistic expectations. But blaming each other doesn’t get to the root of the problem, which is often a lack of alignment.

So what’s the solution? “A strong talent acquisition/hiring manager relationship means that both parties are aligned on the goals, that they’ve partnered together to create those goals and they’ve set the expectation that they’re going to work together to achieve those goals and it’s not just one party or the other who’s responsible for achieving them,” says Stacey.

This approach doesn’t eliminate the need for tough conversations – both parties may need to push back or compromise from time to time. But it means everyone is making hiring decisions based on strategic goals and everyone is working together to achieve those goals.


Let the data do the talking

Another common problem occurs when hiring managers treat recruiters like order-takers. Hiring managers might mistakenly believe that they can just tell the recruiter exactly who they want to hire and when. This can be especially problematic when a company is looking to diversify its talent pool but hiring managers want roles filled on an unrealistic timeline.

This is where recruiters can step up into an advisory role and let the data do the talking. Stacey recommends pulling general hiring data, industry data and company-specific data so you can advise hiring managers on what’s feasible.

Bringing in the data helps you to set realistic expectations and shows the hiring manager that you’re trying to help.
–Stacey Gordon


Broaden your perspective and your network

When it comes to sourcing, Stacey says you need to look beyond the usual tools like LinkedIn Recruiter and Indeed. No matter where you’re going – whether it’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), professional associations or local communities – it’s all about building relationships and widening your network. “When your network is larger and more diverse, that’s going to give you the access you need to find the individuals you’re looking for.”


The conversations at Open Forum give you the opportunity to learn from other business leaders and talent pros who have built diverse, high-performing teams. Interested in learning from more of the impactful sessions at Building Belonging? Watch them here.

Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno

is a freelance writer and former Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse. Melissa previously built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.