What is Diversity Recruiting? Strategies and Best Practices that Make an Impact

25 Oct, 2022Ravianne Van Vliet

Diversity recruitment is gaining momentum. More and more companies are starting to see the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce and are launching initiatives to create an atmosphere where everybody feels at home. This includes the way they look at their talent acquisition processes. But where do you find diverse talent and, more importantly, how do you get them to choose your organization? In this article, we’ll discuss the steps businesses can take to improve their diversity recruitment strategy, including tips and best practices.


  1. Intro: Diversity Recruitment as a Business Driver for Success
  2. What is Diversity Recruiting?
  3. Why is Diversity Recruiting Important?
  4. Benefits of Diversity Hiring 
  5. Ideas for Diversity Recruiting 
  6. Best Practices for Diversity Recruitment Strategies 

1. Intro: Diversity Recruitment as a Business Driver for Success

Today, creating and cultivating an open, inclusive, and diverse work environment is high on the corporate agenda. Given the political, economic, and social developments the world is facing, this is not surprising. Society itself has become more diverse. Social and racial injustices (like Black Lives Matter, the glass ceiling, and the #metoo movement) have made us realize that every individual has the right to be respected, valued, and heard. This is reflected in the workplace – or at least, it should be. 

In addition, there is a huge shortage of talent in the job market. This causes companies to pull out all the stops to recruit professionals from a wider range of potential candidates, instead of sourcing them from their usual talent pool. That’s why we currently see a higher demand for women on the boards of tech startups. It’s why the Dutch healthcare sector is actively recruiting employees with a migration background. And it explains why major corporations like Microsoft and SAP have begun specifically recruiting and training employees with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) – to name just a few examples. 

Then, there’s also the globalization of businesses. When expanding into new markets overseas, cultural diversity in the workplace can make a company thrive as there’ll most likely be employees with local connections, native language skills, and market-specific knowledge. When you’re doing business with China, it helps to have an employee that speaks Mandarin. 

In this sense, a solid diversity recruitment policy is an essential building block for success. But although many companies are investing in a diverse and inclusive workforce, some struggle to find the right strategies and resources to get there. Others still have the old-school perspective that diversity hiring is a box-ticking exercise. “Have we hired enough women for management positions this year? Then we’re good.” A huge misconception. Luckily, while there’s still a long way to go, attitudes toward diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at work are slowly changing. So how do you attract and hire diverse candidates and really make an impact? How do you make a plan for diversity recruiting?

2. What is Diversity Recruiting?

First, let’s take a look at the definition of diversity recruiting, also known as diversity hiring. Basically, diversity recruiting is all about hiring candidates who represent various demographic and socio-cultural backgrounds, while making sure that everyone is judged based on their skills, qualities and merits. The goal of a diversity recruitment strategy is to remove unconscious biases during the talent acquisition process and be as inclusive and fair as possible. When it comes to someone’s age, gender, sexual orientation, color, physical abilities, religion, or cultural background, everybody should get equitable chances. Diversity hiring also acknowledges the idea that people with different skills, personality traits, educational levels and career paths bring a wide set of qualities and perspectives to the table. 


diverse recruiting

3. Why is Diversity Recruiting Important?

Equity in the workplace is a human right. It means employers offer fair opportunities to their employees and job candidates. No matter their gender, age or race, no matter where they’re from, no matter their sexual preference, no matter what they look like. However, equity at work does not mean everybody is considered the same. Rather, it appreciates that we’re all unique. Embracing those differences is an important driver for an inclusive company culture. And when it comes to creating a company culture where everybody feels at home, diversity hiring can be a key factor. Next to that, a good diversity policy is often considered to be one of the major success factors for a company. Here are some numbers to back up that statement: 

  • Diversity was identified as a key driver of innovation by a famous 2017 Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study, which also found that diverse management teams produced 19% more revenue than companies with below-average leadership diversity
  • A 2019 analysis by McKinsey found that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than peer companies in the fourth quartile
  • According to a study by Deloitte University, 83% of millennials say they are more engaged when they feel their company has embraced a diverse and inclusive culture. This leads to more idea sharing and a greater ability to emphasize with a wider range of customers
  • World Economic Forum research shows that companies with above-average diversity scores drive 45% of average revenue from innovation, while companies with below-average diversity scores drive only 26%

Companies that embrace diversity and inclusion in all aspects of their business statistically outperform their peers.

Josh Bersin, ​​Global HR Industry Analyst

4. Benefits of Diversity Hiring

Apart from the above financial benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace, there are other reasons to invest in a diversity recruitment strategy – no matter the size or type of business a company is in:

It widens the talent pool 

Companies want the best person for the job, it’s that simple. However, finding that perfect candidate is rather challenging in this day and age. Embracing a diverse hiring strategy means thinking out of the box. Instead of fishing from the same old talent pool, HR and recruiters are increasingly looking for that talent in underrepresented groups. It makes finding new, qualified staff members much easier, as there are more talented candidates to choose from.

It has a positive effect on employer branding 

If companies send a message that they are genuinely committed to improving diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), they will be more attractive to potential job candidates. According to Glassdoor, more than 3 out of 4 job seekers and employees (76%) report that a diverse workforce is an important factor when researching companies and evaluating job offers. 

It boosts creative thinking 

Diverse teams are more creative and have a higher problem-solving ability because team members think and act from different perspectives and experiences. Plus, there’s a broader range of skills present in the company. 

It opens the doors to new markets

Diverse teams are able to respond better to the needs of a diverse customer base and increase access to new markets. It allows companies to have a competitive advantage as they have a better knowledge of how to operate in different cultures and countries.

It increases loyalty and motivation

Organizations that strive for a diverse workforce are also likely to increase loyalty among employees, with higher retention rates as a result. Salesforce’s Equality Report found that employees who feel a sense of belonging at their company are 5.3 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best at work. Additionally, of the respondents who believe that their company provides equal opportunities, 65 % report they are proud to work for their company.

You  might find this article interesting too: Diversity Management in the Workplace

5. Ideas for Diversity Recruiting

Many organizations recognize that diversity and inclusion in recruiting are vital for business success and empowering their people. But creating a diverse workforce doesn’t happen overnight. Where do you start? Take a look at these three steps, which apply to every stage of the talent acquisition process. 

Step 1: How to recruit diverse candidates

Research shows that unconscious bias especially plays a role at the beginning of the application procedure. If inclusiveness and diversity are not consciously considered during the recruitment stage, it will be difficult to rectify this later in the process. Here’s how to avoid that:

  • Create inclusive job postings: 0ne of the most important elements in the recruitment process is the job posting. Without realizing it, companies might chase away perfect candidates if they’re not inclusive in the way they communicate, so they should pay close attention to that. Remove gender-coded words, avoid unconscious gender bias and racial bias in texts and idioms, make sure disabled workers are welcomed, etc. It pays off when companies explicitly state their commitment to diversity and inclusion within their job descriptions.

TIP: Working with a diverse workforce already? Then always make sure to showcase this in your job ads, either with stockphoto’s or pictures were taken with your own team. Diverse talents will not apply to your organization if they cannot recognize themselves in your branding. 

  • Behavior is more important than characteristics: refer to behavior and qualities rather than characteristics or physical traits (like mentioning you’re looking for a particular gender). This will help to avoid a stereotypical image, deterring people (consciously or unconsciously) from responding to the job posting because they feel excluded. 
  • Mention opportunities and benefits: if possible, mention career opportunities and fringe benefits in the job description to attract a wider range of people. Showing inclusive benefits is also useful to illustrate how an employer supports its employees. Think: paid leave for all parents, or offering days off during holidays that are of importance to some employees, but not to everybody else –  like Eid al Fitr or Keti Koti.
  • Use various platforms, tools, and resources for diversity recruiting: don’t just recruit within your own network, through your own website or LinkedIn profile, but also consider other channels and resources, such as the OneWorld network, Colourful People, Emma at Work, and international platforms like Jobs for Humanity. Next to that, try diversity recruiting software and tools like Personio, hiREZ, or Greenhouse which are created to make diversity recruiting planning easier and help identify underrepresented talent. 

Curious about the way Lepaya enhances diversity in the workplace? Find out more about our partnership with Equals Amsterdam during International Women’s Day here

Step 2: How to select diverse candidates

After the recruitment process, prejudice might also play a role in the selection of candidates who are invited for an interview. How do you ensure that the selection process remains free of bias?

  • Create a selection committee: put together a selection committee and train the people on that panel to check each other for unconscious biases during their assessment of candidates. It helps if the committee itself is a diverse representation of society as well, as people are quick to hire people who look just like them.
  • Invest in diversity training for recruiters: it makes sense that HR departments and recruiters are aware of the importance of a diverse and inclusive team. It’s no wonder, then, that companies around the world are increasingly focussing on offering diversity and inclusion courses and certifications in diversity recruiting for the people who are responsible for the talent acquisition process. 
  • Be open to change: make sure you are open to change. Instead of comparing applicants to the previous employee who held the position, find out what a particular team really needs and which candidate can complement them. For example, if a senior manager leaves the organization, ask yourself whether you need another senior manager in that position, or if it could be someone who’s less experienced but has the right skills. You might also consider a blind hiring process, where the applicant’s name, address, gender, age, and ethnicity are blacked out on their cv’s and the focus lies on someone’s skills, education and work experience. 

Step 3: How to interview diverse candidates

How can you ensure to counter pre-assumptions during job interviews, and welcome candidates with a variety of backgrounds and experiences?

  • Provide a clear interview structure: it has been proven that in structured and standardized job interviews, bias plays a lesser role. Set up fixed questions in advance that can be asked to each applicant and use them as a guide for the conversation. This may include a limited number of additional questions that are not predetermined. It makes comparing different interviews easier and more neutral, giving everyone the same opportunity to tell their story and showcase if they are fit for the job. 
  • Don’t discuss findings with others (yet): if there are several rounds of interviews, don’t discuss your findings with the people doing the next interview session. The risk of influencing them is huge. Have the members of the selection committee rate the candidates independently through a scoring system before discussing the scores with each other. There will be enough time afterward to do that.
  • Ask for feedback: consider asking new employees and applicants for feedback. It helps to avoid blind spots and optimize talent acquisition and recruiting processes within the company.

Increasing diversity does not, by itself, increase effectiveness; what matters is how an organization harnesses diversity, and whether it’s willing to reshape its power structure. Harvard Business Review

6. Best Practices for Diversity Recruiting Strategies 

A diverse and inclusive workplace is the result of continuous effort and clear, transparent diversity recruitment strategies. Organizations that truly incorporate those strategies will quickly see an increase in their diversity. Here are some best practices. 

  • Understand your current situation: when attempting to improve your diversity recruitment strategy, it’s important for HR or DEI managers to first sit down with the whole team and ask some relevant questions. What is the goal of this strategy? Where are we now in terms of our attitude toward diversity and inclusion? How do we measure success? As companies are becoming increasingly data-driven, it can be quite easy to gather data on DEI, and answer these questions by using People and HR Analytics.
  • Build an inclusive employer brand: highlight your commitment to inclusive hiring in all forms of communication: on the website, in newsletters, blogs, mission statements, etc. Give actual examples of how your company welcomes all sorts of different individuals, so candidates see that DEI is more than just a paragraph on your company’s website. It allows them to properly consider whether they are a good cultural match with a particular employer. Besides, focusing on diversity and inclusiveness shows social commitment. Just make sure that the image you paint reflects reality. The practice of, for instance, Pink Washing, where brands claim to support the LGBTQ+ community, but act differently in practice, really is a no-go. 
  • Lead by example: promoting yourself as a diversity-friendly workforce won’t mean much if the board is not on board! A solid DEI strategy starts with the top of the organization: a management team that consists of all white males in their fifties simply sends out a different message than a more diverse C-suite does. It helps to take a critical look at the way senior executives are recruited and improve the diversity hiring strategy on that level too. 
  • Support DEI on a continuous basis: once candidates from different backgrounds are hired and settled in, make sure to support them for the long term as well. In fact, successful companies not only invest in diversity recruitment but also in a great employee experience for everyone. Needless to say, the commitment to diversity does not stop at someone’s first day.

Encourage your employees and leaders to start having diversity-related conversations and challenge their unconscious thought processes. Learn more about our Power Skill training and visit www.lepaya.com or be sure to get in touch here.