Let #MeToo Be the Push You Need to Prioritize Diversity in Hiring

employees hi five in the office

For recruiters, placing a candidate in a job they want feels like a major victory. But the #MeToo movement raises an important question: What if you’re sending that candidate into a toxic environment?

There’s data to back up the unsettling and heartbreaking anecdotes we read about in the news. Forty-eight percent of employed women have experienced sexual harassment at work, according to a poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal. The issue is industry-agnostic: The same poll found that 67 percent of Americans believe sexual harassment happens in nearly all workplaces, and 41 percent of employed men have witnessed harassment in the workplace.

The #MeToo movement puts recruiters in a unique position. We have a role in crafting workplace cultures by helping hiring managers decide whom to bring into their organizations. Here are some tactics recruiters and organizations should both consider when seeking to hire diverse talent for a more inclusive workplace:

1. Diversify Your Recruiting Methods

Referrals remain a popular source of new talent, making up 30 percent of all new hires. But for a diversity recruiting initiative, referrals might not be the smartest option. After all, employees are most likely to refer people who are similar to them.

If you’re worried about your employees’ own biases getting in the way of the hiring process, taking the search outside of your organization is best. Consider partnering with an external third-party recruiter to ensure the success of your diversity recruiting program.

2. Conduct Manager Bias Training

Speaking of biases, organizations should invest in eliminating bias among managers. Every manager is also a hiring manager in their own right. A manager has perhaps the biggest say in who gets to join their team, placing them in a critical position when it comes to diversifying the company makeup.

To empower managers to hire and cultivate diverse teams, give them opportunities to educate themselves on unconscious biases and how to combat them. One company found that 96 percent of its employees left bias training “intending to engage in behaviors to reduce bias.” This type of training gets organizations one step closer to hiring parity.

3. Create Uniform Application Review and Interview Processes

When interview processes are inconsistent, biases can more easily enter the picture. Candidate review and interviews should adhere to a formalized process, followed to the same degree of detail as a company audit or employee performance review would be. This creates a constant, consistent, and fair baseline for candidate evaluation. Such formalized hiring processes are proven to lead to more diverse hiring decisions, according to research from Princeton and Harvard.

4. Level Up Internal Communications

If organizations truly want their cultures to change, they must put diversity conversations front and center. Talking about these issues — whether in quarterly meetings or internal newsletters — is the first step to showing employees they matter to leadership. By putting time and energy into communicate this message, company leaders show they genuinely want to shift the culture going forward. When new talent gets a glimpse into this culture, they’ll want to join the team.

Increased diversity isn’t a goal that can be met in a month or a quarter or even a year, and it’s important to note that none of these tactics are quick solutions. All require time, resources, and leadership buy-in.

But the investment must be made. Simply making promises for diversity efforts while failing to follow through isn’t enough. With the rise of the #MeToo movement, it’s clear that maintaining a diverse workforce is more than a matter of saving corporate face — it’s about ensuring the safety, sense of belonging, and flourishing of every employee.

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