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    Practical Ways to Foster Diversity While Hiring A Team

    November 30, 2021

    Written by Mallory Auth

    By now you’ve probably heard of the extensive benefits that come with having diverse teams in your business. Diversity helps to foster innovation, creativity, empathy, and much more in the workplace, but I hope that a better performing company is not the sole reason you want to diversify your team. In this post, we will talk about the practical ways to foster diversity while hiring a team.

    The fact is, people who identify with marginalized communities get wayyyy fewer opportunities because of the systemic racism in our country. A lot of us started our businesses because we wanted to do things differently and be more inclusive, the added benefits of fostering diversity on your team are always worth the effort!

    Diverse teams are made up of individuals with lots of measurable differences.

    When we are talking about diversity, we are being cognizant of the experiences of individuals who identify in the following community.

    This is NOT an exhaustive list, and we are aware that diversity is not just what is on the surface or what can be labeled. The same thing goes for the our recognition that this blog is not going to soLvE the PrObLeM of hollow diversity and inclusion efforts in our industries. We are here to highlight things we can do differently or be more aware of.

    There are different things we can do to make the hiring process more inclusive to ensure we are attracting diverse candidates?

    The first thing that needs to be addressed is that everyone has biases, whether they believe it or not. To hire more diverse candidates, we need to do everything in our power to minimize bias in the hiring process through a systematic approach.

    Do’s and Don’ts for sourcing diverse candidates:

    Tactical Hiring Practices (before the interview)

    DO use neutral language in job postings and descriptions. Certain words or phrases in a job description can potentially signal bias and deter qualified candidates from applying, and other words may attract more diverse candidates. Many words have masculine or feminine connotations, same for young or old connotations, there are many tools on the internet to evaluate job posting for biases which you should use to your advantage.

    DO make potential applicants aware of your company’s existing diversity. And if your business currently lacks diversity, share inclusive company values and action steps you are taking to increase diversity in your workplace.

    DO encourage referrals from team members, especially those who are members of marginalized communities. One of the main reasons systemic racism still exists is because white men are helping more white men get jobs and promotions. By opening up the opportunity for minority employees to recommend people for the role, you are actively trying to break down this barrier.

    DON’T put “preferred qualifications” in job postings. Members of marginalized groups are less likely to apply to a job when they don’t meet all qualifications, even preferred qualifications. Findings from Hewlett Packard internal report found that “Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them”. Instead put requirements only in the job post.

    DON’T be vague about your company values.

    DON’T hire just for diversity’s sake. Tokenism is a real issue. Always hire for who will do the best job, and be critical in the decision making process.

    Here are some steps your business can take to reduce bias in the hiring process:

    • Create rigid, standardized procedures to use for all job applicants. This will increase consistency, reduce wiggle room in the hiring process, and ensure all candidates are treated equally. One way to do this is by creating a rubric that is used to evaluate applicants throughout the recruiting process. You are then able to look at scores of each candidate objectively and go from there. Learn the 4 Hiring Myths and mistakes here!
    • Redact irrelevant information from resumes that may result in bias. Things like an applicant’s name, college, GPA, or address could all signal a certain demographic that could change the way you look at a candidate.
    • Intentionally seek out job boards and platforms that promote jobs to diverse candidates.

    Diversity in Practice: The Hiring Process

    When it comes to diversifying your team (and when hiring in general), there are some legalities to consider.

    In the application and interview processes, there are some things you legally CAN’T ask a candidate. To keep you from a discrimination lawsuit, we’ll clarify the things you can’t ask, but also the things you CAN!

    30 Interview Questions You CAN’T Legally Ask a Candidate:

    • How old are you?
    • When is your birthday?
    • What year did you graduate from (high school/college)?
    • What is your sexual preference?
    • Are you pregnant?
    • Do you have children?
    • Are you married?
    • Have you ever been married?
    • What type of daycare arrangements do you have?
    • Do you have a disability?
    • Do you have any health problems?
    • Have you ever filed for worker’s compensation?
    • Have you ever been injured at work?
    • Do you always use your sick leave?
    • Do you want children?
    • Are you planning to get pregnant?
    • Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?
    • What organizations are you a member?
    • Where were you born?
    • Do you own a home?
    • What type of discharge did you receive for the military?
    • What is your maiden name?
    • What is your height?
    • How much do you weigh?
    • What is your clothing size?
    • What is your race?
    • What is your nationality?
    • Do you smoke?
    • What is your religious affiliation?
    • What is your political affiliation?

    25 Interview Questions You CAN Ask a Candidate During an Interview:

    • How long have you been at your current address?
    • What is your current address?
    • What was your previous address and how long did you live there?
    • For some roles age is a legal requirement (working in a bar) so it is acceptable to ask a candidate their age directly and ask for proof.
    • What days and shifts can you work?
    • Are there shifts you cannot work?
    • Are there any responsibilities you have that could make it difficult for you to travel for work?
    • Do you have a reliable way of getting to work?
    • Are you legally eligible to work in the United States?
    • Can you show proof of citizenship/visa/alien registration if we decide to hire you?
    • Are you known by any other names?
    • Can you speak, read, and write English?
    • (after accurately describing the job…) Can perform all of the job functions?
    • Do you have a high school diploma or equivalent?
    • What university or college degrees do you have?
    • How long did you stay at your last role?
    • What was start and finish titles? What is your current and expected salary?
    • What experience and training did you receive while serving that would be beneficial to this job (in regard to military service)?
    • Are you a member of any professional organizations?
    • Have you ever worked for us before under any other name?
    • What are the names of your personal references?
    • How long do you plan on staying with us?
    • Do you have any leave planned?
    • Do any of your relatives currently work for us or our competitors?
    • Can you provide the names of your relatives who work for us?

    I hope you feel capable and inspired to step up your efforts to diversify your team. If you are still nervous to tackle the hiring process on your own, check out Set To Scale, our group consulting program that will help you DIY your growth strategy and HR compliance needs! Reach out to our partners and my good friend Megan Baker and her fantastic team. Meg K & Co is a great recruiting agency for socially conscious business owners.







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