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9 Practical Tips to Improve Your Diversity Recruiting Strategy


This article is based on an interview of the Harver editorial team with Anna Chalon from

It’s well documented that diverse teams make for better teams and ultimately lead to more successful business outcomes. The more diverse a team is, the more perspectives there are, the more creative they are, the better they are at problem-solving, at staying competitive in a busy marketplace.

And this is beside empowering underrepresented groups in the workforce.

According to a McKinsey report, gender-diverse companies are 25% more likely to outperform their peers, while ethnically-diverse businesses are 36% more likely to perform better than their competitors.

Yet despite knowing these benefits of diversity, many companies struggle to implement a successful diversity recruiting strategy. And a lack of diversity creates a vicious cycle since the lack of representation will deter people who are different to enter the field. 

So what can you do to improve your diversity recruiting strategy?

We caught up with Anna Chalon, Director of Recruitment and Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) at to discuss initiatives around increasing diversity and inclusion during recruitment. 

Anna shared her experience with diversity recruiting and gave 9 practical tips to improve your diversity recruiting strategy.

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1. Look at your current culture to make sure it’s inclusive.

The first thing you should do to improve diversity in your company is to take a long hard look at your current culture to see if it’s inclusive or not. Look at:

If you find that any of these things are gender-specific, change them to gender-neutral. That’s a great first stepping stone. 

If you have over 100 employees, look to measure progress across all diverse categories, not just gender. However, if you are a smaller company, this can be difficult to track and protect anonymity while you do it. Instead, you could look into conducting qualitative interviews with your team members while ensuring confidentiality.

Once you’ve done this, take a look at how you’ve been recruiting in recent years and question everything, otherwise nothing will change. If it seems like hard work that’s because it will be in the beginning, but once you’ve changed one thing, it’ll make it easier to change the next thing and then next. 

And if you think it’s hard for you to be honest about how you’re doing, put yourself in the diverse candidate’s shoes – they’re the ones who do the real hard work, dealing with inequity on a daily basis. Make diversity a priority for everyone, if it’s not, there will always be a reason not to make any improvements.

As Anna Chalon says, “it’s hard for people to recognize and admit their own biases as there’s a sense of shame attached to it. I think it’s important to remove the judgement from it and recognize that our biases have been shaped by the world we live in and that we need to work on it.”

Deloitte Elements of InclusionDeloitte identified several elements of inclusion that companies should strive for.

2. Write inclusive job descriptions that can appeal to everyone.

Referring to the applicants as ‘you’ instead of the third person is a great way to write inclusive job descriptions, especially when it comes to gender. Women tend to respond less well to job adverts when they’re written in the third person rather than ‘you’. 

Use the term ‘salespeople’ rather than ‘salesmen’, or talk about the ‘chair of the board’, rather than call them the ‘chairman’ or ‘chairwoman’. Don’t assign gender to a role, it’s irrelevant and off-putting and makes it difficult for women to identify and want to pursue a career in that role.

Unless it’s strictly pertinent to the role in question, another great diversity recruiting strategy is to remove college requirements from the advert or at least refrain from mentioning top colleges. Not every top tier candidate will have been able to afford to go to a great college, and vice versa, not every top college graduate will be a great candidate for your role. 

While you’re at it, look at the ‘requirements’ you have for the job role. Are they really requirements, or just hangovers from the way you used to recruit?

Unnecessary requirements can have you looking at things that don’t matter, making you disqualify perfectly qualified candidates, which could be impacting your diversity recruiting strategy.

Also, if you have more than five bullet points on requirements, you might want to look at removing gender connotative words such as ‘ninja’ or ‘rock star’. Use a tool such as Textio to help you write your job description – it will look for words that could potentially be controversial or off-putting to diverse candidates. 

3. Source and attract a diverse pool of candidates. 

Instead of simply posting your job advert on the major job boards and assuming it will be looked at by all and sundry, consider actively going after diverse candidates. The easiest way to do this is instead of waiting for them to come to you, go to where you know they are.

If you can showcase your diversity and take the time to source with diversity in mind, you will be presented with a broader pool of candidates to recruit from.

Another great way to source diverse candidates is to encourage employees to refer people who don’t look like them. This is something Anna Chalon says is very successful at 

During their onboarding process, they ask all new employees to think of someone who would do well at and then think of someone else, someone diverse, someone who doesn’t look like them, who hasn’t immediately sprung to mind, and refer them too.

Diversity Job Sites in SourcingPopular diverse sourcing strategies also include collaborating with university/graduate school diversity associations, search firms, and participating in diversity-focused job fairs.

4. Use assignments as a first step in the process when possible. 

Using assignments in the recruiting process is a great way to select potential candidates, especially for junior roles. Tweak the interview process to assess candidates’ skills and abilities first. This way you don’t have to base your judgment solely on their resumé. 

By assessing all candidates with the same test, you will give candidates a chance to prove themselves, especially if they have an untraditional background.

5. Have a diverse interview panel.

Like attracts like – candidates want to be able to see themselves represented in your company. Plus, the more diverse your interview panel, the better it will be for your organization too, as everyone looks for something different in candidates and could see potential where others cannot.

As a minimum rule, never have an all-white, all-male panel.

As Anna Chalon says, “If you have one person that looks a certain way that’s from a certain background, they tend to hire someone else who looks like them, or acts like them, or who has the same sort of background.” 

Retaining Diverse Client BaseOrganizations consider retaining a diverse client base one of the primary benefits of a diverse workforce.

6. Implement unconscious bias training for all.

Host unconscious bias training for everyone, and make sure that all new recruits take part in their first three months of working with you. You can run sessions in-house, or get a third party to train your employees.

Just make sure that everyone, and not just those responsible for recruiting, attends. You want your whole organization to be open and inclusive and making everyone aware of unconscious bias can help you all succeed.

Remember, unconscious bias doesn’t just happen during recruiting, it is prevalent during promotion too. We can have a tendency to favor those who are similar to us, meaning that if you have a manager who isn’t trained or a team leader who holds unconscious bias, they could unintentionally be helping employees they feel an affinity too, rather than treating everyone equally.

However, when educating your employees about fighting unconscious bias, don’t forget about limitations of such training. You shouldn’t emphasize the individual responsibility over larger structural changes and think that it will erase the broader issues of discrimination and inequity in the workplace.

7. Build a structured interview process. 

This is really important to eliminate interviewer bias and ensure that the hiring decision isn’t made based on gut feelings or hiring the people who you are most comfortable talking to. This is especially vital if your company is not currently super diverse. 

Make sure there’s a well-defined interview process with clear questions so that every candidate can be assessed on the same criteria. And that no interviewer deviates from these set questions.

This will also ensure that you can deliver a great candidate experience too, by keeping all candidates on a level playing field, you can’t favor one over another on anything other than a strict set of criteria.

Predictive Value of Structured InterviewsStructuring your interview process not only helps you eliminate bias in your recruitment efforts but it also helps you better predict candidates’ success on the job.

8. Have a proper wrap up with a recruiter present. 

Make sure your diversity recruitment strategy is ongoing by having a debrief after every candidate comes on site, or has a remote interview.

Have everyone share their feedback with an experienced recruiter who can observe what you’re doing and call out if any of the language being used is inappropriate or if any adjectives being used to describe candidates are not inclusive. I.e. there might be a pattern of always thinking, for example, women don’t have leadership skills or that software engineering roles are best filled by young people.

9. Track your progress. 

One way to make sure you’re on track is to track your progress and report on how you’re doing by looking at the EEOC self-identification forms either during the application process, through the applicant tracking system, or through your HR once people are actually hired.

Hold yourself accountable by tracking your progress and tweak when you don’t see positive results. If you see high levels of attrition in one cohort, work to understand what is happening to make those particular employees churn, and implement measures in the company to encourage diverse employees to stay, i.e. a Women’s ERG (employee resource group), or run a mentoring scheme.

Diverse Workforce Retention ProgramImproving your retention strategy is just as important as enhancing your diversity recruiting strategy in building an inclusive workplace.

To wrap it up

Improving your diversity recruiting strategy is a great way to ensure your company flourishes. But it’s important to remember that diversity doesn’t begin and end with the recruitment process. 

You need to make sure that diversity and inclusion comes from the top-down and the bottom up. So don’t just look to hire diverse employees, look to have a diverse leadership and executive team too, and make sure that your hires also stay on board. Train employees and managers regularly on unconscious bias and make sure you’re training and promoting diverse and underrepresented employees equally.

About Anna Chalon: Anna was born and raised in Paris, France. After studying law and pursuing a singer-songwriter career, she’s now been working in the tech industry for the past 6 years. She started as a Recruiting Coordinator and moved quickly up the ranks. She led Recruiting at a Marketing SaaS company, Percolate, for a few years before joining, a video collaboration software, as the Head of Recruiting and D&I. She joined as the 50th employee and has helped grow the company to over 170 employees. is still growing rapidly.

This content was originally published here.

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