DEI Hiring Trends

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Moving the needle on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a top concern for recruiting teams and employers. Regardless of industry or company size, human resources (HR) professionals should review and understand current DEI hiring trends.

The Wave of 2020

2020 ignited a flood of initiatives for DEI, causing stakeholders to reflect on workplace equity and their status quo hiring practices. Whether it was the Covid crisis, a flurry of economic or political events, or the long-overdue visibility of marginalized groups, the journey from 1960s civil rights programs to today was accelerated in our first year of Covid.   

Since then, a wealth of research has revealed that DEI is not only a moral choice but a smart and profitable one. According to McKinsey, the most diverse companies now are more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability. McKinsey’s analysis shows that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. Additionally, companies in the top-quartile for ethnic and cultural diversity outperformed those in the fourth one by 36% in profitability.

So, it is no wonder that prominent organizations like Allstate, Amazon, Deloitte, GAP, Target, and Verizon have embraced the DEI movement and officially pledged to correct outdated talent acquisition policies to elevate equity.

DEI – Employees’ Want List

The tight job market of 2021 is not likely to suddenly disappear today. Many HR professionals predict that finding the right talent will continue to be challenging. With aging Baby Boomers, inflation, and a smaller immigrant talent pool, finding ways to appeal to younger candidates will be critical.

As older employees begin to retire, Millennials and Gen Z, the most racially and ethnically diverse generations, will be their replacements. Workers in these generations are more likely to consider systematic racism as widespread. Research proves a higher percentage of these two populations expect DEI promises from their employers. As reported in a recent Monster survey, 83% of Gen Z candidates think a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is critical when choosing their next position. 

Employee’s Values = Organization’s Values

Millennials and Gen Z employees are looking to be hired by organizations whose values mirror their own. College graduates and early-career applicants expect a diverse and equitable experience. Therefore, it stands to reason that more organizations will highlight official DEI commitments.

The question is how employees will hold their organizations accountable and how strictly employers will provide visible, measurable outcomes. A symbolic gesture such as creating a diversity value statement without any action will be deemed hollow. Companies who make these mistakes likely will be taken to task on social media and become unattractive to modern talent.

Actionable Outcomes

Fortunately, organizations such as Microsoft have more actionable results. Microsoft has hiring initiatives to appeal to neurodiverse individuals. The Neurodiversity Career Connection links neurodiverse talent with disability-inclusive employers. Big names like HP and Salesforce are turning to this platform for their candidate funnel. IBM and other global organizations have partnerships with HBCUs or historically Black Colleges or Universities to create a diverse and inclusive quantum workforce. Even updating language about forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity goes a long way in the hiring process for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Better DEI Brand Communication

Companies are revamping their marketing campaigns and reviewing how their brand is perceived. Overhauling the website, logo, banner, intentional messaging, and job post listings are just some examples of necessary modifications that committed organizations are undertaking. Visual storytelling and imagery reflecting a more diverse audience and workforce are essential factors in a more holistic stance on systemic change. Organizations that create messaging aligned with their demonstrated values can increase their brand authenticity.

Underrepresented Candidate Job Site Posts

Organizations with resources to reach out to underrepresented groups have found that placing job postings on these sites means a more varied and qualified group of applicants: 

The sites above give a substantial overview of job posting boards available to invite a more diverse field of candidates.

DEI Is Broader Than the Past Suggests

In the past, DEI hiring practices were narrow. HR directors focused on binary gender and race differences for candidates. Grouping or “othering” is offensive to many candidates and, now, too limited to be an acceptable practice.

Today, DEI is broader. Many organizations examine DEI hiring trends thoroughly to encompass a comprehensive range of experiences and viewpoints. When employers discuss DEI now, they not only include gender and race, but LGBTQ+, ethnicity, age, physical ability, neurodiversity, social class, veteran status, education, national origin, and religious and ethical value systems.

In today’s environment, it’s essential to review why categorizations matter to an organization and what can be done to make this type of personal data more inclusive.

Diversity Is Expanding into Problem-Solving Styles

Some questions by HR may relate to how an individual contributes to a possible outcome. Does a person use more analytical or creative approaches? Does the person dive into physical activity to developing an effective solution? Problem-solving styles will continue to be examined as organizations review team structure and diversity.

Retaining Talent 

Creating more unique funnels for potential applicants and keeping diverse and talented employees longer is vital. Organizations are using some of the tactics and technology below to retain talent. These methods are a win-win for all involved. The costs involved in training a new employee are high, so striving to keep talent in place is always a successful plan.

  • HR hiring software – Eliminates unconscious bias by removing job applicant information and randomizing the order of applicant answers
  • DEI survey technology – Employee surveys and chatbots that help employees weigh in on company DEI culture without fear of stigma
  • Bias communication technology – Flags unintentional bias in social media or a company’s communication platform
  • Remote and hybrid work options – Enhances flexibility for primary caretakers
  • Equitable pay – An internally equitable pay structure will help ensure fair treatment and compensation
  • Career trajectory – Clearly articulate how talent can move from one level to the next within the organization; provide educational development programs to support the employee journey  
  • Mental health benefits – Beyond the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA), help address employees’ emotional health and well-being, along with lack of representation, microaggressions, unconscious bias, and other stressors that impact underrepresented employees 

By reviewing and following DEI hiring trends, organizations and HR professionals can create an equitable and inclusive workplace, support positive employee experiences, and build long-term competitive advantages.

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