Strategies to Hire Diverse Candidates & Go Beyond OFCCP Compliance

As of late the topic of diversity is weighing on my mind. Diversity is a mix of compliance, responsibility and good business sense. According to a recent article by McKensey, ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform industry medians and yet so many companies struggle with this. Why is that? 

Innovation is hard and bringing in different people who have varying experiences, backgrounds, and are outside of a set expectation or familiarity is uncomfortable. But being uncomfortable is a good thing. That’s what I tell myself when I try new things, meet new people and do something different. It’s that being comfortable that causes problems which are why I’m constantly pushing myself to think, do and be open to different including diversity. The truth of the matter is that we’ve gotten soft. We’ve relied on compliance with the OFCCP and corporate policy for far too long.

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You need to hire diverse candidates to stay competitive just as you need to push your people to learn and think differently. And that starts with surrounding those people with a community of individuals and professionals who aren’t carbon copies of the rest of the team. Otherwise, you will never have any new ideas, innovations or outside of the box ideas, plans or strategies.

What You Need To Do To Attract Diverse Job Candidates

I’m here to tell you an automated job posting isn’t enough. Diverse candidates want to be engaged, approached and challenged because they are challenging you.

Build Candidate Networks

Step outside the run-of-the-mill e-newsletter communications and build networks that engage candidates. Using your CRM or a simple Slack, LinkedIn or Facebook group can be used to build a candidate network that you can use to build a relationship with a specific candidate audience. For example, you can easily set up a Women at Work Facebook Group powered by your company name. Tap into your female employees to serve as admins in the group and ask their friends to join. Within the group, you can promote your events, programs and even offer exclusive question and answer sessions either virtually or at offices in person to talk about your female friendly perks, benefits and career programs with the goal of building out a community of engaged and interested passive candidates to fill future roles within the organization.

Focus on Diversity Verticals

Build specific content, conversations, and resources for the communities you wish to reach. For instance, if you’re aiming to recruit veterans, hone in on the questions and conversations that veterans have. These diversity vertical can exist either inside a social network group like I described above as well as within your career site. Be sure to have landing pages that include resources, information and media to showcase how you engage your targeted protected groups. For example, this month is Autism Awareness Month and if have an autism hiring program like these companies do, you can create conversations, media materials, and resources for the autism community. By focusing on the diversity verticals you can effectively measure your impact, results and the engagement levels to direct candidates to very specific and targeted positions your company is focused on hiring a more diverse workforce for.

Provide Resources

Help candidates understand why you not only accept diversity but desire it. Provide materials online for candidates and their families, as well as current employees. Whether it’s a podcast series, an ebook or a video series, it’s important to provide resources for your candidate community. I’m not just simply talking about an employment branding video discussing your workplace but real resources that candidates who are in the market for a new job can use. One example for veterans is an MOS translator tool. I’d like to see more companies focus on creating digital media properties that empowered protected job seeker communities.

Get Engaged

No matter who you’re recruiting, there’s nothing more valuable than engagement. Find diversity-focused events that give you the opportunity to engage and foster relationships, such as an online diversity recruiting event or a women-who-code conference. In terms of engagement, your audience is two-fold. The first is your diverse candidate community and the second is working with non-profit and diversity groups, conferences and communities. It’s no longer enough to just simply send an email alerting non-profit diversity groups with your openings. The OFCCP is looking for more candidate engagement and effort by employers in what they call good faith efforts. A simple outreach letter for your good faith efforts to a non-profit or community organization that targets a protected class is no longer enough. Employers need to get active, engaged and focus on going above and beyond to remain in compliance and avoid fines with the OFCCP.

Ask questions

Ask your employees and candidates for feedback and recommendations on how to be better. They provide a unique perspective, so listen and make changes. Asking questions and establishing a forum and community for conversation builds trust, drives awareness and establishes a relationship. All candidates regardless of their age, race, gender, disability, veteran status and sex want the hiring process to be a dialogue and not one-way conversations. You need to ask questions. It helps employers learn just as it does for candidates. Most employers aren’t up for the challenge of asking questions or at least putting yourself out there available to be engaged because it’s perceived that it results in more working for the recruiting and talent acquisition teams. However, I’ve found that’s not always the case. It might also lead you to communities and conversations that you hadn’t considered or been available to connect with.

I’m asking you to go beyond your corporate requirements and established OFCCP guidelines and directives. Build plans to exceed expected hiring benchmarks. While yearly reporting and good faith efforts are important, I’m challenging you to approach diversity differently taking a more holistic approach instead of one that just checks the boxes and allows you to feel better about that quarterly update you sent.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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