Real Deal Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: A Quick Checklist to Help You Check In

3 min read

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has been a hot topic of late, especially in tech industries where the workforce is disproportionately male and white. We all want to hire the best talent, and as Atlassian’s 2018 State of Diversity in US Tech report reveals, roughly 80% of people say they care about DEI. 

But when it comes to recruiting diverse candidates, we need to get one thing straight: caring is not enough. Action is everything.

The same Atlassian report also found that almost across the board, diversity efforts have stalled, with up to a 50% drop in individual participation in diversity initiatives year-over-year. And the inclusion side of the picture doesn't fare much better. Less than 30% of underrepresented groups reported a sense of belonging at their companies.

We took an in-depth look at Aubrey Blanche’s experiences creating a powerfully practical approach to DEI. The former Global Head of Diversity and Belonging at Atlassian is a pioneer in this area and a big part of the reason Atlassian has been able to boost its female tech hires by 80%.

Based on rock-solid insights from talent experts like Aubrey, Stacey Gordon, Zachary Nunn and more, this unmissable checklist will help you become a diversity-focused brand that really walks the walk.

Boost your diversity hiring with this simple checklist

Phase #1: Dig deep on your ‘why’

  • Know your reasons
  • Understand the role of privilege in recruitment
  • Recruit for balanced teams (not stats!)
  • Source beyond gender

Phase #2: Take action for diversity

  • Revamp your job ads
  • Re-focus your screening process
  • Eliminate bias in your interview process
  • Make a fair job offer
  • Build an inclusive onboarding process

Phase #3: Assess and reposition

  • Keep testing and trying
  • Take the ‘new normal’ into account
  • Keep your checklist with you

Phase #1: Dig deep on your ‘why’

Know your reasons

Diversity is not a box to check off. If you’re only thinking about DEI practices because ‘you're supposed to’, that’s not good enough. You need to know the reasons behind your DEI strategies so you can keep your team focused on the goal. 

HR expert Katie Augsburger agrees

“[First off,] you need to be very clear about the why and the what. Why are you doing this? Why do you care about diversity, equity and inclusion? Organizations sometimes just say ‘we care!’ but what are you trying to achieve by saying that?” said Katie in an interview with the 2050 Trailblazers podcast. 

Consider these questions:

  • Do I truly believe having diverse teams working in our company makes a difference?
  • Are DEI initiatives vital for our business? If yes, why? If not, why not?
  • What are we trying to achieve by saying ‘we care about diversity’?

Understand the role of privilege in recruitment

People matter. And cultivating human potential is huge. Employers need to use their privilege to advocate for their people and  help teams reach their full potential.

Zachary Nunn, founder of Living Corporate, goes one step further and suggests that true inclusion means “ceding power to marginalized employees and allowing them true authority to lead and make decisions.”

“If you aren't ceding power, you are not being inclusive,” he says.

Things to think about: 

  • What does it mean to be ‘qualified’ for a role? 
  • What are the things that got you where you are today? 
  • Do all your applicants and candidates have access to those same resources?
  • What can you do to facilitate the growth of marginalized employees? 

Recruit for balanced teams (not stats!)

The problem with reporting at the company level is that you often get representation without distribution. 

“That’s because the team level is where you’re really going to feel the impact of diversity. It doesn’t matter if 30% of your company is made up of women if they’re all in marketing or HR and the men are in engineering,” says Blanche. 

Take a hard look at your numbers.

  • Are underrepresented groups equally distributed across the company?
  • How many people are working with colleagues who are different than themselves?
  • How can you help underrepresented groups connect across teams? 
  • How would that benefit the company?

Source beyond gender

For Blanche, it’s necessary that we see diversity as something that moves past gender. Many of us fall into the trap of diversity equals women — and what women come to our mind if not white, cisgender and economically stable? Intersectionality means we all have layers that need to be embraced. That includes older people, neurodiverse candidates, workers of different cultural backgrounds, races, religions and varied gender identities.

Andy Crebar, CEO of SaplingHR, agrees. He believes true inclusivity = embracing intersectionality. “An inclusive workplace is an environment that champions intersectionality and allows employees to bring their full identities to work,” he says.

“We are so much more than just our job title—an inclusive workplace celebrates each team member's entire self, including (and most critically) our differences.”

Take some time to reflect:

  • Do I associate the concept of diversity with hiring more women?
  • Do I know where and how to source talent from all working groups?

Phase #2: Take action for diversity

Revamp your job ads

A 2011 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that masculine and feminine-themed words were an unacknowledged mechanism for maintaining inequality. Get 'em out of your job ads and you'll immediately attract a more diverse pool of applicants.

Think about the following:

  • Do underrepresented candidates have the opportunity to apply to my open positions?
  • Do we post job ads on diverse job boards?
  • Is my EEO statement truly encouraging?
  • Do my job ads contain jargon and cliches (rockstar, ninja, etc.)?
  • Am I actively seeking out underrepresented groups and encouraging them to apply?

Re-focus your screening process

If you dig deep into your screening process, there’s a high chance you’ll find inherent bias. It’s time to teach yourself where the bias pitfalls are hiding.

Things to think about:

  • Am I looking for skills from a short-term perspective?
  • Can employees grow in their role at my company?
  • What are the hidden benefits of hiring someone who doesn’t have a strong background in a specific area?
  • Where in the hiring process do we lose out on most diverse candidates? What can we do to eliminate the cracks in our hiring process?

Eliminate bias in your interview process

Okay, so you’ve gotten this far and there are a strong diverse range of candidates ready for interview. Congrats! But let’s be honest here — the interview stage is a prime spot for diversity drop-off. 

Stacey Gordon, DEI expert and CEO of ReworkWork, believes bias-free interviews are all about the tools you use. “The right interview tools can help you weed out the unconscious hurdles that keep you from hiring the best person for the job,” she says.

To avoid diverse top talent slipping through the interview cracks, ask yourself these questions:

  • How many diverse candidates drop-off at the interview stage?
  • Does the interview panel reflect the diversity we’re striving for?
  • Do any of our interview tools help minimize bias?
  • Do we use the same structured interview questions for every candidate?

Build an inclusive onboarding process

Once you’ve discovered your top talent and a fair job offer has been accepted, it’s time to welcome your new candidate onboard. But this is where the real challenge begins — because according to a Gallup survey, only 12% of employees strongly agree their organization does a great job of onboarding new employees.

Things to think about: 

  • How well does our company do on retention?
  • Do people from diverse backgrounds leave sooner? 
  • At what point do we see people leaving?
  • Does our onboarding process support employees from all backgrounds?

Phase #3: Assess and reposition

Keep testing and trying

The good news is, we’re not supposed to have all the answers. Blanche’s system is based on using research to make "small tweaks" as you grow as a company. It's ok to try and keep trying. “This is a 10- to 20-year problem– you can’t solve structural racism by throwing together a year-long program with a few targets,” Blanche points out. 

Gianluca Binelli, CEO at Booster Box Digital, agrees. “Keep an open mind and keep learning by asking feedback. Asking anonymous feedback empowers people to share more on what they would like to see changing in the workplace,” says Gianluca. “I feel that we still have so much to learn. Keeping our workplace inclusive isn’t just a checklist enforced via committee, it’s a continuous journey to learn and improve.” 

Ask yourself:

  • How do I currently engage with the people in our company and talent community?
  • How do my strategies and policies account for their experiences?

Take the ‘new normal’ into account

Since the pandemic, the recruitment world is a different landscape — so when it comes to diversity hiring, taking the ‘new normal’ into account is a must. This means setting yourself up for remote hiring and supporting candidates who have to work from home. 

Things to think about: 

  • Do our tools and processes allow for remote recruiting?
  • How can we ensure new job roles are adapted to working from home?

Keep your checklist with you

We all make mistakes, but getting DEI right is about learning from them. 

Use this checklist as a reminder to keep asking questions, to drill down on each hiring stage and, above all, to keep trying.

In the end, it's all about how high you're willing to raise the bar. When you set a goal to design a recruiting process that's efficient, objective and genuinely focused on securing the best talent — genuine diversity will follow.

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