Hiring For Diversity: 9 Best Practices To Follow

Hiring Remote

We’ll share 5 ways hiring for diversity helps remote teams and 9 steps for how to hire diverse candidates. Your recruiting diversity strategy starts now:

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The top remote companies say recruiting and hiring for diversity remains one of their biggest priorities -- and challenges.

You can think of diversity like your kitchen spice rack. 

Each herb or spice brings a special flavor of its own. And combining different ones in perfect harmony adds complexity and depth to your meals worthy of a fancy restaurant. 

Skip those additions, or only choose one basic type, and you’ll have the exact opposite: bland, boring, uninspired food no one’s excited to munch on.

The same is true for your organization.

Adding team members with different perspectives, experiences, and capabilities isn’t just the right thing to do; it benefits your organization in many ways, as you’ll learn in this guide.

We’ll highlight why diversity hiring is important for remote teams. Then we’ll share nine best practices for how to hire diverse candidates around the globe.

You’ll have a blueprint to craft a hiring and recruiting for diversity strategy, and a game plan to meet all your goals.

But first, let’s talk about why this is all worth your time and attention.

Hiring in 2024? Check out our complete guide to hiring remotely in 2024.

Why Diversity Hiring Is Important for Remote Teams

Diversity is what makes an individual unique. It’s how people vary from each other based on traits like their:
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity 
  • Religious beliefs
  • Cognitive and physical capabilities
  • Sexual orientation
  • Socioeconomic backgrounds

A diverse workplace doesn’t ignore these differences; it celebrates and unites them. Leaders focused on diversity leverage each team member’s strengths to achieve shared goals together.

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As a result, hiring for diversity helps remote teams:

Boost Company Performance

Most companies (62%) say focusing on diversity has improved company performance [*]. Research from Deloitte and McKinsey & Company backs this up, as [*][*]:

  • The most culturally diverse organizations are 33% more likely to earn above-average profitability rates than the least diverse ones.

  • The most gender-diverse companies are 48% more likely to outperform companies with the least gender diversity.

  • Organizations prioritizing a diverse, inclusive company culture are twice as likely to meet or exceed their financial targets. They’re also eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes.

These results aren’t surprising when you consider that diverse teams… 

Improve Productivity, Job Satisfaction, and Retention

A whopping 78% of companies admit that focusing on diversity strengthened company culture [*]. 

When employees see their expertise utilized and valued, they’re more likely to feel as if their contributions matter to the success of your organization. So they’re more engaged with their work, happy with their leaders, and committed to driving results.

Forrester research even shows that workplace belonging boosts job performance by 56% and lowers turnover by 50% [*]. On the other hand, employee disengagement costs companies up to $550 billion each year [*].

Check out these best practices to retain remote talent later!

Attract More Top Candidates

Millennials and Gen Z candidates make up the current and future workforce. And these social justice heroes prioritize companies that take diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) seriously during their job search.

Before they apply for roles at your company, they’ll scout your website to see how many diverse employees exist on your team -- and how many of them are in high-level positions. 

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They’ll also check out your social media channels, volunteer outreach, and how you’re striving to make the world a better place.

Show them you support underrepresented candidates, and you’ll attract more of them.

Plus, when you remove conscious and unconscious biases from your recruiting and hiring process (more on this later), you’ll widen the talent pool of candidates to choose from.

Bring New Ideas to the Table that Spark Innovation

Employees with the same education, background, or work history are used to doing things the same way. Hire employees with different educational experiences and career paths, and you’ll open the door for new ideas and ways of doing things.

Rather than duplicating what’s already been done, you’ll expand the knowledge of your entire team and enhance innovation. You’ll have new workarounds for old problems, develop new product features, and gain a competitive edge.

Better Understand Your Customers and Global Markets

Researchers say remote work should boost diversity among job applicants by 20% [*]. Companies can now expand their geographical scope to include fantastic candidates outside of the US, Europe, and Canada. 

These candidates may possess all the skills and experience you’re looking for. And they’ll provide valuable insight into untapped markets and cultural norms your employees may not be aware of.

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In fact, a staggering 69% of companies say they’re focused on diversity hiring to better represent their customers [*]. A diverse team that understands its customer base will brainstorm solutions to address their specific pain points and meet their needs.

So let’s talk about how to hire diverse candidates for your organization.

Recruiting and Hiring for Diversity: 9 Best Practices To Follow

Use and share these best practices to achieve your goals of hiring and recruiting for diversity:

1. Take an Honest Assessment Of Your Team

Harvard researchers have an ingenious solution to finding the best fit for your team. They say when you think about “fit,” you shouldn’t hire someone with the same characteristics and traits as those currently on your team.

Instead, you should think of your team like a jigsaw puzzle [*].

See, each puzzle piece is shaped differently and displays various colors and characteristics. However, when slotted into its correct position, that puzzle piece contributes something amazing required to complete the picture.

Your job? To find your team’s missing puzzle piece. And you can’t do that without first taking stock of the pieces you already have.

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Those researchers suggest asking questions, such as:
  • What are the strengths currently on my team?
  • How can I build on those strengths?
  • What strengths does my team lack?
  • What does my team need most? 

Without this missing puzzle piece, your team’s picture will be incomplete.

2. Set Hiring and Recruiting for Diversity Goals

Once you know what’s missing on your team, you can set goals and benchmarks to improve your diversity. This keeps everyone in recruiting focused on finding candidates who differ from your employees. 

For example, have you only hired white, heterosexual males from the US in the last year for your IT department? Commit to hiring underrepresented candidates outside of this bubble within the next six months.

Keep an eye on your labor force data to hold your team accountable for reaching these targets. 

Take stock of these recruiting metrics (and how to leverage them) as well.

3. Uncover Your Team’s Conscious and Unconscious Biases

A bias is defined as a prejudice in favor of or against a person, group, idea, or thing. Biases can be a learned, conscious decision or something unconscious you may not even realize you’re thinking or doing. 

Biases give candidates an unfair advantage or disadvantage that harms diverse recruiting strategies. And research shows unconscious biases influence at least 40% of hiring decisions [*].

A few of the most common biases in recruiting include:

  • A preference for younger candidates. You may feel older applicants won’t pick up things quickly or be open to learning new tools. 

  • Overlooking women for non-traditional roles, including traditionally male-dominated STEM positions. 

  • Skipping over candidates with accents or a less-than-perfect command of your team’s majority language. 

  • Not hiring candidates with disabilities because they make you feel uncomfortable.

  • Prioritizing candidates with “impressive” university degrees or previous employers over candidates who lack these on their resumes.

You and your team must uncover these biases and remedy them ASAP. You may discover that what you’re looking for in the “perfect candidate” may be a product of biases against those who don’t match this image.

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Good news: There are many online tests to help you here, such as the Implicit Association Tests from Harvard.

4. Expand Your Hiring Requirements

Here at We Work Remotely, we like to encourage employers to list their “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” in their job ads. 

After all, top companies like Apple and Google no longer require a college degree to apply to their teams. Instead, they’re emphasizing candidates who have the skills and experience they’re looking for. 

Many in-demand positions don’t actually require a formal, four-year degree. For example, software developers and programmers are the most in-demand remote roles. And entirely self-taught candidates can thrive in these positions.

Despite their drive, intelligence, and passion, not everyone has access to university courses. So stop making this mandatory and focus on what each candidate offers.

Recruiters and hiring teams are now choosing to:

  • Ask candidates to take a skills-based assessment. Set a minimum score candidates have to achieve to prove they have the goods, regardless of where or how they learned these hard and soft skills.

  • Prompt candidates for examples of their work, such as an online digital portfolio, writing sample, products shipped, GitHub link to view code, etc. Then you’ll have a true gauge of their capabilities.

  • Add more jobs with on-site training. Does a promising candidate have 85% of what you’re looking for? Allow them to pick up the specific skills they’re lacking under your guidance, and they’ll reach 100% in no time.

These steps will widen your net and attract more top talent your way.

5. Write More Inclusive Job Ads

In our guide on Signs a Remote Company is Committed to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, we told readers to check a company’s job ad to gauge actionable DE&I practices. This ad may be their first impression of your organization, so you have to get this right.

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To write a job ad that includes rather than excludes candidates:

  • Clearly describe your must-haves vs. nice-to-haves. Broadly explain the competencies and experiences you think are necessary to succeed in the role. Avoid being too narrow, or you may dissuade candidates who have most but not everything you’re looking for.

  • Stay away from biased language. In our guide on Things To Change and Act-On In Your Inclusive Hiring Practices, we discussed how alienating language in job ads may contain gender and racial bias. Words like “challenge,” “competitive,” and “ninja,” “wizard,” or “rockstar” may deter women and other minorities from applying. 

  • Highlight your commitment to DE&I with a paragraph at the end of your ad about how your company puts these beliefs into practice.

  • Consider job description software, which uses advanced algorithms and AI to help teams create more unbiased job descriptions. 

  • Utilize the best applicant tracking systems that censor personally identifiable information that may reveal a candidate’s ethnicity, religion, gender, or age.

If you don’t receive many diverse candidates from your job ad, you may need to edit your post accordingly. Check out our guide on How To Write a Remote Job Listing that Sells for more tips here.

6. Explain Your Commitment to Diversity Online

When candidates scope out your company before applying to a position, they’ll likely check your website and social media channels. Show diverse candidates that they’re welcome with a short blurb that outlines your DE&I policies.

Mention things like whether your workforce undergoes annual DE&I training, your zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and harassment, your mission to promote from within, and more.

Then prove you practice what you preach.

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Ask employees to submit a fun headshot and brief bio about themselves to use on your About Us page. Show candidates the diversity within your team -- and at every level. 

If you haven’t met your diversity goals, write something along the lines of, “We’re committed to increasing [female, BIPOC, etc.] representation in our [company, department, etc.] and actively strive to hire, support, and advance underrepresented [candidates, employees, etc.].” 

Diverse applicants will feel more comfortable and welcome to apply when they see these on your website and social media channels.

7. Broaden Your Diversity Networking

To attract and recruit more diverse candidates, you need to look outside your typical bubble. Once you build relationships with networks of underrepresented talent, you’ll have a competitive advantage when they decide which company to go with. 

To expand your networking efforts:

  • Attend online recruiting events outside prominent universities. Consider historically black colleges, female-only universities, the best schools for students with autism, and other talent pools like these.

  • Participate in diverse professional organizations, such as the National Black MBA Association, American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES), Women in Technology International (WITI), and more.

  • Join online professional subgroups or forums on social media to network with minority candidates and engage in meaningful conversations. 

  • Create internship programs for underrepresented young adults. Give them access to educational information, career coaching and mentoring, and support from your team to empower them forward.

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You never know when you’ll meet someone perfect for your team. Keep networking, fill your pipeline with high-quality candidates, and you’ll have a better chance of snagging them when you have an opening.

8. Assemble a Diverse and Inclusive Interview Team

To prevent one employee’s unconscious biases from creeping into your hiring process, it helps to have a team of interviewers meet candidates.

Consider employees who have diverse perspectives and embody your inclusive workplace practices. Provide your interview team with an idea of what you’re looking for before meeting candidates. Then give them a sheet to score the candidate’s answers. Meet briefly after the interview to hear everyone’s feedback.

Don’t forget to prepare talking points about how many minority employees have advanced within your company, what your career development programs entail, how you choose outreach programs in the community, etc.

9. Use Anonymous Surveys for Feedback About Your Hiring Process

Send surveys to candidates who complete an online job application or interview with your team. Hearing their perspective on your hiring process may help you spot areas that need improvement. This feedback will only strengthen your team and increase your odds of meeting your diversity goals.

Now You’re Ready To Start Recruiting and Hiring for Diversity

Today we talked about why diversity hiring is important for remote teams and provided an outline for how to hire diverse candidates remotely. Add these best practices to your recruiting for diversity strategy, and we’re confident you’ll create an outstanding team of all-stars from around the globe.

Recruiting for diversity doesn’t have to be difficult. Check out this guide on hiring overseas employees for more help. You can also find some inspiration in the best hiring practices successful remote companies use.

And always post your remote jobs on We Work Remotely! We’re the largest remote work community in the world, snagging over 3M awesome job seekers every month.

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