Hiring for Diversity: The Dos and Don’ts in 2021
This March, we launched a series of blog posts aimed at bringing the spotlight to some of the most inspirational women in Rapyd. This article was contributed by Ximena Azcuy, Director of Network Partnerships and Business Development for the Americas at Rapyd. We asked Ximena about what Diversity means for her and how can companies become better at it.
Diversity in all forms is a huge benefit to a company. When hiring, managers should view an applicant’s job skills and life experiences as positives for innovation and sharing ideas.
Diversity is not only important because of its impact on the well-being of your company’s culture, but also its impact on the bottom line. Whether you’re looking at a prospect’s background or skill set, their perspective and points of view can present opportunities to your company in ways you never imagined.
Rapyd is one of the most diverse companies I’ve ever worked for. That doesn’t just mean ethnically diverse, it also means different cultural, professional, ethnic, and gender backgrounds. Just like our business, our teams represent the amalgamation of local insights with global thinking.
In this article, I’ve summarized my thoughts on Hiring for Diversity based on the experiences I had at Rapyd and beyond.
Why go diverse?
Despite the general positive trend, Diversity is a concept that continues to be underappreciated and is often treated as a buzzword. So let’s start by looking at the benefits of diversity.
First of all, when a diverse group is brought together, Innovation and Creativity just occur naturally. Team members’ different languages, perspectives, and backgrounds can bring a new look into how decisions are made. This helps the products and services become more relevant, inclusive, and innovative. If everybody would think the same, companies could not innovate.
Secondly, the culture of collaboration makes a strong impact on employee motivation, both personally and across teams. In diverse teams, you are exposed to different viewpoints, and that makes it more interesting for people to participate. It is empowering to be part of a company that encourages and looks for diverse candidates to apply for open positions.
Finally, brands known for attracting diverse candidates and embracing new ideas are more successful at attracting talent. Every person wants to feel comfortable and valued in a workplace. What better way to set that tone than by making everyone feel welcome and appreciated from their first experiences with your company.
Diversity can mean many things to many people. But whatever these interpretations are, one cannot be innovative in any global or local company without the contributions of people from different backgrounds and life experiences.
In my role with Rapyd, I’m lucky to get to speak with people from all over the world and enjoy working with them every day.
I also interview candidates for the roles at Rapyd. And besides evaluating specific requirements of a role or expectations of a hiring manager, I also like to apply some additional principles.
The following are some best practices for diversity hiring that are not necessarily “must-haves” but “nice to haves”:
1. Do focus on the person’s skills, not the ‘labels’.
The hiring process can be overwhelming and tedious. It can take time to find the right person to fill a position. You must narrow down the dozens or even hundreds of resumes you received to a small list of job seekers you want to interview.
It’s important to remember to concentrate on the person’s resume with their skills and experience. Focus on what they have done and the value they can bring to your team, as opposed to the company names and degrees. The best candidates will use their skills and abilities to make the role their own.
And vice-a-versa, an applicant can look impressive on their resume, but the in-person interview gives a more honest picture of the person and what they can contribute to the company’s mission and vision.
At Rapyd, you see your contribution. You can see how you are making a difference in the work that we do. Your new hire will want to feel as though they are making the same kind of impression at your company.
2. Do hire the best candidate for the role.
Managers should always be open to diversity and teamwork; however, you always want to pick the right candidate. Work to expand the top of your talent funnel and then it will naturally bring their diverse talent, skills, and experiences to the interview process.
When the team is assembled, it’s important for the leader to listen. Leaders should be open to change, open to challenge, and open to teamwork. Be open to new ideas you’ve probably never heard. The next great idea could come from anyone.
3. Don’t be inflexible and don’t (just) stick to the job description.
Perhaps you picture the “ideal candidate” for a position you are trying to fill. You make a list of traits or characteristics that would work best in this type of role. However, that picture may change after conducting a few interviews. At the end of the day, you should be looking for a balance of three things: skills, attitude, and aptitude.
You might give an offer to an individual who does not look anything like the picture you had in your mind. However, you know their attitude and potential will take your company to a new level. Flexibility must be part of hiring and building diverse teams.
The same applies to the job description: while it is useful in many ways as a measuring tool against an applicant’s skills and background, there are other things to look into:
How will the person fit into the company? Will the applicant’s personality be compatible with the rest of the team? Are they bold about sharing their opinion and ideas? Do they have some obvious leadership qualities, or is their demeanor more reserved — their leadership potential less obvious?
4. Don’t be influenced by unconscious biases or stereotypes.
It’s natural to have unconscious biases going into a new experience. You may not be aware of them, but when you lead teams, you would want to be trained to identify them and be more in control: not letting those biases influence your decisions.
Some of the most typical biases are hiring people that are similar to you: have similar patterns, career history, cultural background, communication style, etc. While this might be helpful in some instances, hiring a team of your lookalikes won’t progress your business too far.
Another bias is hiring people for their likeability. For some people, the ideal candidate is the person they’d like to spend more time with socially.
From a talent acquisition perspective, one of the goals of diversity hiring is to identify and remove potential biases that may be deterring qualified, diverse candidates.
If you find you are not attracting enough diverse talent, there are a few things you can do to fix this:
- Hold a diversity audit of your current hiring processes: Audits are a helpful way to highlight both your company’s strengths and weak areas. Here you can answer questions like:
- Where are we promoting our roles?
- What do we do best when it comes to hiring?
- In what areas can we improve?
- What challenges do we face when filling positions?
- What attracts people to join us?
- What do our reviews say about working for our company?
Maybe your hiring processes can use some updating. Maybe you need to broaden your definition of “diversity.” Sometimes a small change can make a big difference in the types of candidates you attract. Or, consider planning one of the interview rounds as a diversity screening and have an unbiased employee conduct it.
2. Re-word your job postings: Watch your word choice when crafting a job posting. For instance, to draw a larger pool of female candidates, avoid over-using “masculine” words like “ambitious”, “dominant” or even “rockstar” so as not to deter a less assertive group of applicants. Use neutral wording that could attract any applicant.
3. Ask minority employees for referrals: Most of our social and professional networks are made up of folks that are in a similar demographic. One way to leverage these similarities is to encourage referrals from minority employees. This is a win-win situation. The employee is passing along the name and credentials of a potentially great fit for the position you are trying to fill. As a recruiter, you are boosting your pool of potential hires through internal channels. Most hiring managers appreciate good referrals.
Being open to diversity is one of the best things you can do for your company. When an employee can use their own life experience for the greater good of the business, the natural outcome is innovation and happier employees. When diversity is present and embraced from top to bottom within a business, everybody wins.