Just How ‘Fit’ Are You? Diversity Recruiting Beyond the Buzz.

4 min read

What do we really mean when we say someone’s not a good “cultural fit”?

We might mean the candidate in question has a poor attitude, lacks enthusiasm, or has vastly different long-term aspirations than what we can offer — but more often than not, what we really mean is that they don’t meet our expectations for age, gender or background.

And that’s a hard thing to admit. 😬

But the truth about bias is that it’s much easier to spot it in others, than in ourselves. If you’re truly committed to building a diverse and inclusive workplace, you’re going to have to learn to check yourself at critical stages throughout the recruitment and hiring process to make sure you’re not falling victim to your own unconscious patterns. 🙈

Why diversity matters

For the past couple of decades, there’s been a ton of buzz surrounding the term ‘diversity’.

It’s a word with a tornado of political, personal and legal connotations surrounding it. No wonder so many organizations are afraid to face it head-on. Traditionally, businesses have approached diversity as merely a tick box testament for minimizing legal risks.

That’s just not good enough.

Beyond the clear and undeniably human case for diversity and inclusion, there are some very real bottom line benefits to be had. For example, research by McKinsey found that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have returns above national industry medians. And another survey by Deloitte Australia found that inclusive teams outperform their peers by 80% in team-based assessments.

A diverse and inclusive working culture also helps employees become more engaged, which lowers turnover, increases retention, and makes your life as a recruitment pro way easier. 🙌🏾

Are you recruiting for a true cultural fit?

How do you know someone’s the right fit if you’re not sure what your company’s culture really is?

You need to know what your mission, vision, and values are today — not five years ago — before you can bring in the people best able to bring those ideals to life.

Once you’re clear on who you are and what you stand for, make sure your job descriptions reflect that. Research has found that many female job-seekers are turned off by “masculine” language (e.g., words like “dominate” or “competitive”) in a job description, while men aren’t fazed by the use of “feminine” language (words like “supportive” and “collaborative”).

Is this making you uncomfortable yet?

Does the very idea of assigning a gender to a word feel like a reinforcement of harmful stereotypes?

We get it.

Truthfully, there is a ton of grey area on the topic of diversity at work. What matters most is that you don’t look away.

Commit to staying active and trying new things. It costs nothing to draft a job description with more open and balanced language and see what kind of talent resonates with that.

The reason so many companies fail at creating a diverse and inclusive culture is because they’re just too scared to step outside their comfort zone. Rest assured, if you’re facing uncomfortable questions, thoughts and conversations, you’re doing it right.

Are your recruitment policies outdated?

Now it’s time to take a good hard look at your current recruitment process and find out where outdated policies or sexist ideas are holding you back.

This one is going to take mad amounts of courage. ✊

You’ve got to be ready to take an objective look at each step in the process and you must be willing to have some uncomfortable conversations internally.

In the wake of #MeToo, the topic of sexual harassment at work is finally getting the attention it deserves. But where there’s change, there’s backlash. You, your fellow hiring authorities and your leadership team will have to face up to the fear and commit to taking a long-term position.

And the easiest and most effective way to do that is to make it official.

Connect with your leaders and ask them to put their commitment into words. For example, business rockstars like LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie, have all made a public pledge to mentor more women. 👍🏽

Diversity recruiting is a long game

When you have your new policies in place, it’s important you stick to them.

As much as we wish we could undo years of injustice by simply changing up our job descriptions, real change is going to take time and determination.

Female and non-white candidates are regularly subjected to additional layers of questioning, interviews, and policies arising from fear and bias from senior business leaders, or even the board. Stay committed to your diversity recruiting policies and refuse to fall back into old patterns.

A firm commitment paired with a clear and active process, is the only way to cut through unconscious bias — not just for yourself as the recruiter, but for the entire hiring team and the business at large.

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