You want to build a more diverse organization, but how will you shift your hiring practices? Learn the playbook from the world's top talent executives and the global leader in diversity recruiting. Hiring for Diversity: The Guide to Building an Inclusive and Equitable Organization brings together the most cutting-edge practices for implementing a diversity hiring strategy that leaves your organization with a comprehensive view and an actionable plan. Using the author's research-backed Equal Hiring Index ® and work with hundreds of leading employers, the book offers readers the most actionable examples of the policies and practices that inclusive hiring leaders employ today. You'll learn: * How to take stock of your existing hiring and retention practices to identify the most urgent and high impact opportunities * Where to enact tactical changes to your hiring practices and policies that will reduce bias and improve accessibility * How to develop a comprehensive diversity sourcing strategy by building a holistic understanding of underrepresented communities * How to shift the mindset and behavior of people in your organization to collectively advance your diversity hiring efforts * How to measure your progress and report your impact in your diversity hiring Perfect for human resources professionals, managers, executives, and board members, and existing and aspiring leaders passionate about diversity, Hiring for Diversity will also earn a prominent spot on the bookshelves of anyone interested in making the company they work in more inclusive, fair, and equitable.
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A NOTE ON ACCESSIBILITY AND AVAILABLE RESOURCES
ACCESSIBILITY FOR THIS BOOK
OPEN-SOURCED RESOURCES FROM THIS BOOK
Setting the Stage: Going from Intent to Impact
WHY THE TIME IS NOW
WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE
COMING TOGETHER TO WRITE THIS BOOK
HOW TO MOBILIZE CHANGE USING THIS BOOK
Building Your Diversity Hiring Vision, Goals, and Reporting
WHY DIVERSITY GOAL-SETTING, STRATEGY, AND REPORTING MATTERS
FIRST STEP TOWARD IMPACT
Understanding Underrepresented Job Seekers
OLDER AND EXPERIENCED WORKERS
REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
FORMERLY INCARCERATED INDIVIDUALS
HISPANIC AND LATINX COMMUNITY
INDIGENOUS AND NATIVE AMERICAN COMMUNITY
ASIAN AMERICAN AND PACIFIC ISLANDER COMMUNITY
OLDER AND EXPERIENCED WORKERS
REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
FORMERLY INCARCERATED INDIVIDUALS
HISPANIC AND LATINX COMMUNITY
INDIGENOUS AND NATIVE AMERICAN COMMUNITY
ASIAN AMERICAN AND PACIFIC ISLANDER COMMUNITY
Designing an Inclusive Brand and Candidate Experience
WHY AN INCLUSIVE BRAND MATTERS
ASSESSING THE INCLUSIVITY OF YOUR BRAND AND COMMUNICATION
COMMUNICATING AN INCLUSIVE BRAND IDENTITY
COMMUNICATING YOUR DIVERSITY EFFORTS AND MAKING YOUR EQUITABLE HIRING PRACTICES TRANSPARENT
SHARING STORIES AND TESTIMONIALS FROM YOUR PEOPLE
SHOWCASING IMAGERY OF UNDERREPRESENTED COMMUNITIES
EXTENDING YOUR INCLUSIVE BRAND TO OTHER MEDIA
ENSURING ACCESSIBILITY FOR CANDIDATES
DEVELOPING AN INCLUSIVE CANDIDATE EXPERIENCE
LISTEN TO YOUR COMMUNITY AND GATHER FEEDBACK
FIRST STEP TOWARD IMPACT
Writing Inclusive Job Descriptions and Candidate Communication
WHY INCLUSIVE JOB DESCRIPTIONS AND CANDIDATE COMMUNICATION MATTER
ASSESSING THE INCLUSIVITY OF YOUR JOB DESCRIPTIONS
WRITING MORE INCLUSIVE JOB DESCRIPTIONS
FIRST STEP TOWARD IMPACT
UNDERSTANDING WHY DIVERSITY SOURCING MATTERS
RETHINK YOUR APPROACH TO DIVERSITY SOURCING
ASSESSING WHERE YOU ARE WITH DIVERSITY SOURCING
DEVELOPING A ROLE-SPECIFIC DIVERSITY SOURCING STRATEGY
TACTICS TO APPLY FOR DIVERSITY SOURCING
USE TECHNOLOGY TO FACILITATE DIVERSITY CANDIDATE SOURCING
ENGAGE YOUR TEAM MEMBERS IN DIVERSITY SOURCING AND REFERRALS
FIRST STEP TOWARD IMPACT
Minimizing Selection Bias
WHY MINIMIZING SELECTION BIAS MATTERS
ASSESSING WHERE YOU HAVE BIAS IN THE SELECTION PROCESS
HOW TO MINIMIZE CANDIDATE SELECTION BIAS
ANONYMIZING CANDIDATE INFORMATION
TRAINING YOUR TEAM AND STRUCTURING YOUR PROCESS TO REDUCE BIAS
USING OBJECTIVE HIRING ASSESSMENTS
BUILDING AWARENESS TO PERSONALLY ADDRESS BIAS
ADDRESSING BIAS THROUGH TECHNOLOGY AND RISKS WITH AI
FIRST STEP TOWARD IMPACT
Developing Fair Interviews
WHY FAIR INTERVIEWS MATTER
ASSESSING HOW FAIR AND STRUCTURED YOUR INTERVIEWS ARE
HOW TO STRUCTURE YOUR INTERVIEW PROCESS
FAIRLY EVALUATING CANDIDATES
ENSURING DIVERSE INTERVIEW PANELS
CHANGING DYNAMICS FOR INCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS
REENGAGING CANDIDATES FOR FEEDBACK AFTER INTERVIEWS
FIRST STEP TOWARD IMPACT
Ensuring Equitable Job Offers
UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM OF PAY EQUITY
UNDERSTANDING THE GENDER PAY GAP
UNDERSTANDING THE RACIAL PAY GAP
PAY EQUITY FACING OTHER COMMUNITIES
WHY EQUITABLE JOB OFFERS MATTER
ASSESSING YOUR ORGANIZATION'S CURRENT PAY INEQUALITIES
PERFORMING PAY EQUITY AUDITS
HOW TO ENSURE EQUITABLE JOB OFFERS
HOW TO HANDLE JOB OFFER NEGOTIATIONS
SUSTAIN AND MONITOR YOUR PAY EQUITY PRACTICES
FIRST STEP TOWARD IMPACT
Empowering and Advancing Underrepresented Team Members
WHY DIVERSITY DEPENDS ON INCLUSIVE ORGANIZATIONS
CULTURAL CHALLENGES WITH INCLUSION
ASSESSING YOUR DIVERSITY RETENTION STRATEGY
FIRST STEP TOWARD IMPACT
Mobilizing Your Organization in Diversity Hiring
THE NEW MINDSET OF LEADERS IN ADVANCING DIVERSITY
EMPOWERING YOUR ORGANIZATION TO LEAD IN DIVERSITY HIRING
EMBRACING DIVERSITY IN WHAT YOU DELIVER AS AN ORGANIZATION
FIRST STEP TOWARD IMPACT
WORDS OF WISDOM FROM LEADERS ON ADVANCING DIVERSITY
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
END USER LICENSE AGREEMENT
A Note on Accessibility and Available Resources
Table of Contents
Words of Wisdom from Leaders on Advancing Diversity
About the Authors
Wiley End User License Agreement
“With a steady pulse on this rapidly changing landscape, Arthur and Susanna have crafted a singular guide to creating inclusive hiring practices that not only meet but exceed the heightened standards of the modern era.”
—Jennifer Brown, author, Inclusion: Diversity, the New Workplace & the Will to Change and How to Be an Inclusive Leader
“This book is a must read for any leader, no matter what title you hold. It will give you the actionable plan you need to build a more diverse team.”
—Mita Mallick, Head of Inclusion, Equity and Impact, Carta
“Hiring for Diversity delivers thoughtful, operationally sound, measurable, scalable, and time-tested methods for hiring and supporting diverse teams.”
—Judith Williams, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, SAP
“Hiring for Diversity provides a clear, tested, and integrated approach to hiring and retaining talent across all spectrums of diversity, breaking the work down into measurable and actionable steps. This is required reading for any leader serious about improving diversity in their organization.”
—Beth Anton Grous, Chief People Officer, Tripadvisor
“If you hope to lead this moment and build diversity into your organization, Hiring for Diversity is a must read. This book dismantles all the misconceptions and barriers to creating real change, regardless of your role or title.”
—Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, Who’s Got Your Back and Leading Without Authority
“Hiring for Diversity will convert your organization's good intentions into measurable impact by giving actionable strategies for hiring and advancing diverse talent.”
—Rocki Howard, Chief Diversity Officer, SmartRecruiters
“A must-read for leaders who are ready to take action on growing diversity in their organizations. Hiring for Diversity gives you a holistic strategy coupled with tangible resources to make progress in diversity hiring.”
—Margot Slattery, Global Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Sodexo
“Hiring for Diversity gives leaders actionable direction for growing diversity within their organization. It is an important read for talent, learning, and business leaders.”
—Elliott Masie, Creator of e-Learning, CEO of the MASIE Center
“If you are looking for specific, actionable, and practical advice to attract and engage diverse teams, Hiring for Diversity will hit the mark. The book dives deep into various dimensions of diversity, with numerous examples. It doesn't stop at hiring—also covering topics of engagement, retention, and culture—or at diversity—addressing equity and inclusion too.”
—Kathi Enderes, PhD, Vice President, Research, Josh Bersin Academy
“Hiring for Diversity provides a roadmap for employers who are serious about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Its Equal Hiring Index is an innovative game changer for Corporate America and a new way to look at recruiting diverse talent, retaining them, and investing in their success.”
—Ingrid M. Duran CEO and Founder, D&P Creative Strategies
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Woods, Arthur (Entrepreneur), author. | Tharakan, Susanna, author. | John Wiley & Sons, publisher.
Title: Hiring for diversity : the guide to building an inclusive and equitable organization / Arthur Woods, Susanna Tharakan.
Description: Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley,  | Includes index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2021018921 (print) | LCCN 2021018922 (ebook) | ISBN 9781119800903 (cloth) | ISBN 9781119800927 (adobe pdf) | ISBN 9781119800910 (epub)
Subjects: LCSH: Diversity in the workplace. | Employee selection.
Classification: LCC HF5549.5.M5 W647 2021 (print) | LCC HF5549.5.M5 (ebook) | DDC 658.3/1108—dc23
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2021018921
LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2021018922
Cover Design: Wiley
Cover Image: ©Irina Karpinchik/Getty Images
We are committed to ensuring everything we recommend and write about is reflected in our own work and the delivery of this book itself. We've partnered with our publisher, Wiley, to ensure this book is accessible to people of all abilities through the specific measures detailed below. We have also taken steps to make the resources mentioned in the book available to anyone committed to advancing this work. To that end, we've created an open-source library of resources and assessments available to everyone through our platform, Mathison. Please read below to learn about our accessibility measures and access to open-sourced resources.
Hiring for Diversity is available in e-book and hardcover, and will be available in audiobook. We offer the following accessibility options:
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Finally, we have created a complimentary assessment called our Equal Hiring Index® to help leaders of any organization size assess the current state of their hiring process, to identify where they can reduce bias, increase accessibility, and reach new diverse communities. You can find this free assessment at: http://Mathison.io/Index.
Diversity and inclusion may seem like recent buzzwords in the business world. In fact, these concepts trace their origins in corporate and military organizations as far back as the 1940s, when President Harry Truman desegregated the U.S. military. Meanwhile, in the last 20 years, we have watched business owners, shareholders, employees, consumers, and policy makers all increasingly agree that diversity and inclusion are important investments—for almost every company imaginable.
This is for good reason: The talent pool available to founders and leaders is becoming more diverse than ever. Women now outnumber men among U.S. college graduates, and representation among people of color continues similarly to expand. Ten years ago, it would have been difficult to find a technology start-up that mentioned diversity or inclusion in its IPO filing, and very few Fortune 500 public tech companies discussed the topic with their shareholders.
During those ten years, I've spent my career as a leader in the DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) space. Two poignant observations stick out.
First, the key to successfully building inclusive workplaces and high-functioning diverse teams is to think more like a businessperson and less like a diversity person. What do I mean by that? In all aspects of business, we are constantly looking for data from which we can glean any meaningful insight. Diversity is no different. When your business has the right data systems in place, it is easier to operationalize the processes that result in more diverse hiring. It also becomes much simpler to build and cultivate the culture that you want for your company.
Second, when we talk about diversity and inclusion, we are talking about the largest attempt in modern history to fix outdated standards and practices in the field of human resources.
The reason for this is simple. Building diverse workforces and inclusive workplaces is not a new function of human resources. Instead, it is simply a rethinking of the precepts built into some of HR's oldest functions. Indeed, a more recent trend across Fortune 500 and other high-performing companies is to see the head of HR or head of people role also incorporate the title “Head of Diversity.”
This can make the solution seem easier than it is. Like many experienced heads of DEI, I am often asked to “rebuild” HR. A common analogy in this situation is “changing the wheels while the car is still in motion,” but it's actually even scarier than that. As every executive and founder knows, human resources is a critical operation to the health of a business and not to be messed with capriciously. (Sensitivity to this risk may be another reason HR organizations and practices have remained unchanged for so long.) A wholesale rethinking of HR is not just a significant investment for your business; it's also scary.
The good news is it's doable, and the map has already been made. In more than 20 years designing, building, and overseeing human resources operations, my advice for all leaders is to see how attention to data and a passion for process can yield powerful, scalable results. As entrepreneur Ben Horowitz has written, a great head of HR “must be a masterful process designer.” Process design is the key to success. While many business functions require constant innovation, HR in this era simply requires this one significant yet transformational change in process: hiring and supporting diverse teams, implemented via time-tested methods of thoughtful, operationally sound, measurable, and scalable process.
What follows in this book is exactly that. Arthur and Susanna, with their team at Mathison, have trudged the start-up trenches familiar to many of us to build the insights and tools we need as the next generation of founders, executives, and HR professionals to grow diversity in our organizations.
In DEI, many of the challenges we warn founders and executives about have names like “unconscious” bias, meaning some part of the problem we are setting out to solve may require software that eliminates our human fallibility. Other challenges, however—the ones founders face in an era of increased awareness like hiring diverse teams—are just good old-fashioned HR implemented in a new way. What follows in these pages are practical recommendations for founders, executives, and HR professionals and the broader team to implement exactly those systems for their organizations.
As a passionate believer in the power of good HR policy and operations to help companies succeed, it is clear to me that one day, what we call diversity and inclusion won't need a name. We'll just call it HR. I believe this because I believe human resources, people operations, or any name we choose to call it will retain the same core function: helping businesses and employees build a healthy, safe, and mutually thriving relationship. I believe this because 200 years of U.S. history show us that when workers are thriving—no matter what their model of unionization, autonomy, or equity—the standard of employee-employer relationship changes our broader culture, too.
Which is to say, if you'd like to see the future of the United States, to quote a trite phrase of middle management everywhere: You'll need to talk to HR. If you are interested in building the future of our workforce, however, I'd like to personally invite you into the pages that follow. I am certain it's a brighter future, and I'm continually inspired by everyone who aims to make it that way. I can't wait to see you there.
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, SAP
One of the greatest joys of my career has been to bear witness to the accelerating evolution of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging as a maturing industry. It began years ago, with mere whispers about diversity circulating within the corporate vocabulary, mainly focusing on gathering data about representation, and how workforce demographics might be retooled to more accurately reflect the diversity of the talent pool and the marketplace. Then the conversation shifted toward inclusion, or how existing talent—particularly those who are underrepresented and who hold marginalized identities—feel on a day-to-day basis, and what level of trust they hold toward the organization. Next, equity and belonging entered the conversation, raising the critical but as-yet-unasked questions of systemic support and psychological safety as they relate to identity and expression. And still our field continues to expand and broaden, with explorations of what justice might look like, on the heels of a year like 2020, where the call for change crested, and the hard questions became our North Star.
Let me begin by saying that the time for all of these things—diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging, and yes, justice—is now. The call for accountability and empathy at work has always existed, but it is undoubtedly louder than ever before. I believe each and every one of us can think of a recent event, movement, personal anecdote, or news story that throws into stark relief the need for systemic change. But I also believe many of us have been confused about how we can better support that change.
As a diversity and inclusion consultant with over fifteen years’ experience in the field, I have witnessed the vast majority of leaders delegate their responsibility around DEI work. They've outsourced the accountability, and the labor, to people of color, women, and other marginalized groups within their organizations, who they believe can (and should) carry the water because of how they identify, even though there is often less structural power among these identities—and sometimes the smallest numbers—to throw behind efforts. This is particularly dangerous at our current moment in time, because leaders are facing a mounting call to step up or fall behind, and stepping up means challenging this thinking. When those with power and influence shirk accountability or delegate responsibility, or remain inactive, or silent, organizations risk destroying hard-won trust that fuels collaboration, teamwork, innovation, and most important, retention. And leaders cease to grow and evolve; what many don't realize in opting out is that they are also endangering their own futures; the sidestepping around this topic, because of discomfort, lack of competency, or defensiveness can ultimately result in irrelevance.
I say this not to scare or castigate anyone, but rather to set the stage for and demonstrate the pressing need for this book, Hiring for Diversity: The Guide to Building an Inclusive and Equitable Organization. With a steady pulse on this rapidly changing landscape, Arthur Woods and Susanna Tharakan have crafted a singular guide to creating inclusive hiring practices that not only meet but exceed the heightened standards of the modern era. If you're reading this book, then your eyes are open to the far-reaching and pervasive nature of DEI challenges, and awareness is always the first step. All that we have been shown in recent years at work and in the world has awakened a vast new cohort of people to the critical issues that many of us in underestimated and underrepresented communities have been laboring against for decades. Some of us may be showing up to “class” late, but what matters is that we're here now, in the room, and rolling up our sleeves.
That awareness and participation is key, because when we surface our biases and arrive at a deeper understanding of the damage they can inflict, we then have choices. We can remain inactive, silent, or apathetic, or we can move forward and embrace the role we each can play in creating cultures of belonging where everyone is empowered to thrive.
As budding agents of change and innovative risk takers choose the latter option (as I hope you do), I see them undergo a metamorphosis of sorts, a liberating journey characterized by radical honesty, joyful storytelling, and generative collaboration. But the process—like so many things worth doing—is also tempered by significant discomfort, challenge, and obstacles. The future will require a greater focus on equity and intersectionality, which can entail loaded conversations with sobering acknowledgments of power imbalances. As you travel this demanding yet gratifying road, I urge you to lean into that discomfort. I like to say that leadership is not truly leadership unless it's uncomfortable. It's a signal that growth is occurring. If you aren't pushing yourself to do more, and pushing others around you to improve, chances are you aren't doing enough. You would expect no less in so many other arenas of your life; the discipline, practice, and “stretch” needed to build new, healthier habits applies very much here, and when we care enough to follow through, despite the “growing pains,” we see the results over time. One of the biggest shifts to explore is closing the gap between our intent and our impact. A positive or favorable self-perception—our desire always to “be right”—is much less important than developing a deeper understanding of our place in a given system, how we got there, and our ability to effect change from who we are and where we sit.
As leaders—wherever we sit in a given system—this is well within the possible, for all of us. Progress will happen if we dedicate and prioritize our development and hold ourselves accountable while extending grace and space to ourselves to show up and learn imperfectly. Resilience and agility are key; we must learn how to fail forward, and to have grace for ourselves and others as we do so. We are all poised to be beacons for this conversation, and for progress, and as we share the work more completely, however imperfectly, the burden for change can begin to be more equitably shared—and lightened—by many more heads, hearts, and hands.
The truth is, creating lasting and sustainable cultures of belonging is a task far bigger than any one executive, or any one department, or any one initiative. With that daunting reality in mind, leaders often ask me, “Where do we begin?” This book will provide many answers to that, and more.
Hiring for Diversity will ask you to do three things. They may be difficult, but I guarantee they will also be three of the most transformative steps you can take as a forward-thinking leader. First, you will be asked to leverage what you know to do what needs to be done, however uncomfortable that may be. Second, you will be asked to embrace what you don't know, because this is how you narrow the gap toward systemic change. Often, this is achieved by first admitting there's a lot you don't know and accepting that reality. Finally—and this is the most critical step—you will need to choose to be a leader. You will need to step into your power willingly, enthusiastically even, without all (or even many) of the answers, and actively take intentional and brave steps that inspire and support those who want to follow you. They're waiting, and they care.
If you are ready to make a difference for those people, turn the page, and let Arthur and Susanna lead the way.
Founder and CEO, Jennifer
Brown Consulting, author of Inclusion and How to Be an Inclusive Leader
You came to this book for a reason. Something compelled you. You might have been moved by a story in the news, a conversation with your team, or your own personal experiences.
When you think about diversity, you might first feel frustrated that not enough is being done. You might feel the pressure to drive results. You might be confused as to how. You might even feel guilt or shame.
When you look at your own organization, you might see where diversity is lacking, where representation is low and you haven't made enough progress. Like many people, you might be angry. You might be focused on the state of the world and the fear of what might happen if you now get this wrong.
But you might also be inspired by the possibility of getting this right.
Whether driven by fear or possibility, you, like many leaders, are likely feeling a burning desire to grow diversity in your organization. You have intent.
And because you picked up this book, you presumably have some degree of power: the power to choose, to reframe, to accept, or to influence. This book is designed to help you use whatever power you have to make a difference—not just in your own life or organization, but in the lives of people who deserve more opportunities than life has handed them.
Diversity is personal, perhaps more so than any other topic or decision we make during the workday. It reflects our values and our viewpoints, and it can trigger a surprising array of emotions. Advancing diversity isn't just about facilitating organizational change. It's about reaching the hearts and minds of our people. And it can't happen without leadership.
But leaders alone can't advance this mission. Despite what anyone tells you, there are few experts in this work, if any. There are few leaders with decades of experience in diversity hiring, and there isn't a single organization that has mastered it across the board. Today, this work requires collective learning, invention, and action. We are all writing the playbook that will guide diversity hiring in the years to come, and to do it well, we need everyone to contribute.
The path ahead is filled with extraordinary potential. If you travel it with dedication and persistence, it will lead to a better, more equitable world. Whether you are leading a company, managing a team, working in HR or recruiting, or simply aspiring to make things better, we wrote this book for you. Regardless of the role you hold, or your experience with diversity, your contribution matters, and you have the potential to make a difference. We hope this book gives you inspiration, direction, and support in this work. We hope this book reminds you what is possible and, most importantly, that you are not alone.
It took a series of unthinkable events, in a stunningly brief period, to force us all to reckon with injustices we'd been conditioned to tolerate.
We witnessed the murder of George Floyd and its aftermath, the agony of oppression erupting in massive, anguished protests. We watched the rise of Black Lives Matter, a global movement giving voice to people unwilling to remain disposable. We saw the COVID-19 pandemic force marginalized communities into even greater hardship and disparity. If our eyes were closed before, they have now been pried open. We are no longer willing—or able—to ignore the inequality and racism that surrounds us.
In a handful of months, the world discovered an urgent desire for change, and no facet of life has gone unaffected, especially the workplace and the makeup of our workforce. Most management teams and boards for the first time looked around and noticed the lack of diversity in the room. And employees across organizations demanded response and action from their employers.
Leaders were left asking, “Will things ever go back to the way they once were?” But the world as we know it has forever changed. Our new world calls us to move forward in innovative ways and to solve problems we've ignored for far too long.
So what changed? We've always had the intent to do better, to be better. And for the last decade, we have signaled how little diversity, equity, and inclusion is present in the workforce today, but that has yet to translate to real changes in our systems. There has been little impact from our efforts. We are now at a critical juncture. We can no longer tolerate our own lack of progress.
Our personal frustration is a direct indication of our desire for personal engagement. We can no longer say this isn't our responsibility, that this is someone else's problem. Each of us—from chief executives down to entry-level employees—has a sphere of influence in advancing diversity on our teams and our organizations. We each have the opportunity to build awareness of the need for diversity because of the systemic inequities across our hiring process. We have the chance to model new behavior for inclusive hiring in our own work personally, and we can play a role in influencing changes to the way our teams and organizations operate.
We also have more transparency around the lack of representation than ever before. Black individuals make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, yet only in four of the nation’s 37 largest employers do they occupy 10 percent or more of the executive and management roles, according to Bloomberg. Hispanics make up 18.5 percent of the U.S. population, yet in only four of those companies do they occupy 15 percent or more of executive and management roles. Meanwhile, white people make up 60 percent of the U.S. population, and all 37 of the largest employers have at least 50 percent white representation at the executive and management levels.
To advance diversity in the workforce, we have often looked to changes we can influence in public policy. In June of 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court made history by declaring that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protected gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals from discrimination based on sex. For the first time in American history, employers were prevented from firing employees because of who they loved or how they identified. Although this was a victory, it shed light on the cruel reality that the LGBTQ+ community had always faced. It took 56 years for them to be granted the protection under law that their heterosexual and cisgender coworkers had all along.
Slowly but surely, progressive lawmakers are pursuing legislation to grant individuals access to the most basic protections in the workforce. But we can't wait for changes in the law alone to ensure equity for everyone at work. We all need to focus on what we can change, and that starts within our own organizations.
If we want to increase diversity in our organizations in a sustainable way, we have to abandon old ways of thinking and shift our approach entirely. This begins with stepping back to recognize why most organizations have struggled so immensely to grow their diversity. Most employers have lacked unity or alignment around the issue. They have approached the work with a short-term mindset that has limited the focus to isolated parts of their organizations. They have lacked a sense of shared responsibility in diversity hiring, which has left the work resting on the shoulders of far too few. These challenges combined have collectively stifled the march of diversity and prevented organizations from truly transforming. Here is what we believe must change:
To improve diversity we have to start with inclusion.
If we are serious about increasing representation in our organizations, we have to begin with a unified and inclusive definition of diversity. Many leaders look at diversity through a narrow lens, focusing solely on attributes they believe they can see. But there are visible and invisible aspects of diversity. To accomplish our mission, we can't paint diversity in broad strokes and leave people out. We need to ensure our definition of diversity encompasses all the underrepresented communities we hope to hire.
Next, to grow diversity among our teams, we have to constantly ensure our organizations themselves are places where people feel empowered and included. It's easy to think that driving diversity mainly depends on hiring, but this equality depends on investing in our existing teams and building cultures within our organizations where people feel embraced, supported, and have room to advance. As the civil rights activist Deray McKesson says, “Diversity is bodies. Inclusion is culture.” In other words, diversity is the act of identifying and hiring the right people. Inclusion is about creating a space where those people feel welcome. They are two different concepts, but neither one is sustainable without the other.
We need to reframe diversity hiring as a long-term, strategic priority.
Many leaders see diversity hiring as an urgent but short-term effort, a terrible oversight that has often led efforts to feel more like one-off posturing rather than longterm sustainable change. But if we really see growing diversity in our organizations as a strategic priority, we must acknowledge that change often comes slowly. Just as we would never say that growing revenue is a near-term priority that depends solely on one department, we must never approach diversity hiring as a sprint, or a single team's “project.” We need to pursue the work in a systematic way that persists regardless of short-term wins or losses. To do it right, we need to reframe diversity hiring as a permanent strategic imperative, an ongoing journey.
We have to inspire collective ownership of diversity hiring across our teams.
In most organizations, people see growing diversity as someone else's job. Most employers don't galvanize their full organization around the shared diversity vision in a way that inspires everyone to feel a sense of responsibility. Instead, diversity hiring typically falls on the shoulders of HR and recruiting teams. But if the rest of your team isn't aware of the need, they might not refer underrepresented candidates or consciously address their personal bias when participating in the hiring process. By mobilizing everyone in your organization around diversity hiring, articulating shared goals, and aligning incentives to meet those goals, you unlock the capabilities and involvement of your full team. This helps the work become a collective effort and, most important, one that is ingrained in your organization's culture and values.
We came together to write this book for a multitude of reasons. We were inspired by the thousands of remarkable job seekers from underrepresented communities we've gotten to engage in our daily work. We felt our understanding of the challenges these communities face in the hiring process could help empower employers struggling to make a change. We've been able to intimately partner with many employers on this journey through our company, Mathison, which provides software that sources candidates from diverse backgrounds and reduces bias in the hiring process. We've gotten to hear employers’ stories, see their common gaps in the hiring process, and observe which diversity hiring tactics and strategies have made the greatest impact. Finally, we felt a sense of urgency, looking at all that has happened in the world through the lens of our own lived experiences, which have always informed our approach to this work.
I grew up in an evangelical community in rural northern California, and I was taught in church that being gay was a sin. When I came out as gay halfway through college, I was completely lost and uncertain about the effect my identity would have on my career. I was blessed with a mother who was the greatest cheerleader a son could wish for, but as the first in my family to graduate from college, I was often without the professional guidance and mentorship that many of my peers took for granted. Unsure of how to navigate my future, I decided to hide my identity in my earliest job interviews, afraid it would hurt my chances of getting hired. Walking into my first job in a corporate office setting, I overheard colleagues using homophobic and derogatory slurs, and I felt utterly crippled. I realized at that moment I was not safe there. I could not be myself. I had to hide. As this sunk in more, I became convinced for much of my early career that my professional identity and personal identity could not be one and the same. I felt an undeniable sense of shame, anxiety, and frustration.
All this changed, however, when I applied to a mission-driven technology company that embraced diversity and made me feel included at every stage of the hiring process. I was placed on a team that included people from across generations, races, and sexual identities. My new manager was openly gay and proudly out at work. He introduced himself by showing me a picture of his husband and family. It was clear to me that this was a place where I could belong. Within weeks of starting the new job, I came out to my colleagues and was immediately embraced. A weight had been lifted from my shoulders as my professional world invited in the person I was at my core. I felt the most authentic sense of alignment between myself and my work, and I immediately realized a newfound energy to build, to go above and beyond, and to make a difference. By feeling a sense of belonging at work, I was confident and unstoppable.
I imagined how many others in the workforce shared my early experience of not being embraced for who they are, not feeling as if they belonged. I began to feel a deep calling to focus my work and life to advancing diversity and inclusion at work. Over the last decade I've had the chance to work with hundreds of leaders on the journey to grow diversity in their organizations. This has given me the opportunity to launch a number of organizations at the intersection of advocacy and technology. I became so enthralled in the work that I shifted my focus to technology that would help employers scale all of their diversity hiring efforts, which is what led me to co-found Mathison (Mathison.io). Witnessing how hard but necessary the work is at this moment, when it is top-of-mind for so many leaders, I felt compelled to work with Susanna to translate the insights from our collective work into a digestible resource for leaders who want to make progress in diversity hiring.
In this very moment, each of us as leaders has the capacity to create extraordinary change. Just as an inclusive boss did for me years ago, we have the opportunity to empower people who feel underrepresented by giving them a seat at the table. We have a chance to instill a sense of belonging by celebrating people for who they really are. If we can catalyze this change within our organizations, it will propel the change we want to see in society.
Who I am starts long before I was even an idea — it starts with my parents and my grandparents. It starts with the country they all left behind over 25 years ago to pursue a better life. Although I grew up in a culturally diverse suburb of New Jersey, American norms were instilled upon me. I quickly learned that you eat PB&J sandwiches for lunch, that straight hair is prettier than curly hair, and that you spend Sundays at church. Like most first-generation immigrants, all I wanted was to find a way to fit in—to connect with my peers and have a sense of belonging. That's why I did everything I could to hide my Indian roots and lean heavily into my family's Christian background. That piece of my identity helped me feel like there truly was a place for me here.
Unfortunately, but not unusually for women of color, I didn't have mentors to tell me what I needed to do to get into a good college or write a resume that would land me an interview or how to handle my finances. I didn't have parents or relatives who understood how to navigate white America as a brown woman, struggling to balance two cultures. I didn't see anyone who looked like me in the TV shows that I watched, so my everyday struggles were never addressed or validated. Navigating my personal and professional life without any guidance was difficult, to say the least. That was, until college.
In college, I found friends, professors, and mentors who were people of color. I took a class called “Experiences for Individuals with Disabilities” that helped me see life through the eyes of my professor, a Latino man with paraplegia. I learned more about how managing multiple identities paved the way for even greater challenges and how important it was to understand intersectionality because of the way it shapes our experiences. The opportunity to see, hear, and live with people from all walks of life showed me just how crucial it is for everyone to be exposed to diversity. Being part of that diversity was comforting for me, but more important, it created an inclusive environment where everyone could share themselves without fear. I learned a lot about the experiences of other people of color, women, individuals with disabilities, immigrants attending university on student visas, and others. All of these people had to overcome so many obstacles to achieve their professional goals. Seeing this left me worried for other women like me who weren't as lucky to stumble upon the kind of people and support I'd encountered.
I'm grateful for where I am today. But one question has remained. What can I do to help others avoid the alienation and uncertainty that I felt growing up? How can I help those trying to navigate their professional lives? To me, the answer was a career in HR. I decided that I needed to have a seat at that table where I could influence organizational leaders. I needed to be part of the decisions that affected all employees.
Today, I'm in the unique position of knowing how it feels to be an outsider, but also what it takes to feel included. The research on the value of diversity and inclusion speaks for itself. If we want to stay ahead of the curve and fruitfully grow our organizations, we need diverse underrepresented talent. It can feel like a daunting task, but organizational leaders have the opportunity to champion initiatives that will make a difference. I hope this book will inspire you to take on the challenge without feeling overwhelmed by it.
For this work to make a difference, we need to determine what success looks like. We should be striving to do more than posturing to change the look of our organizations. Our goal should be fundamentally shifting culture, reimagining the equity of our systems, and being intentional about the way we make people feel. How we gauge success directly ties to the way we think about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging:
Diversity: We are striving for a workforce that equally represents society at all levels.
We are seeking to build diverse representation throughout our organizations. This encompasses how we source from all communities, how we acknowledge that diversity is more than what you can see, how we ensure that people advance in our hiring process to get the job, and how we support and promote people when they become our coworkers. Diversity that is limited to junior positions or particular departments is not true diversity at all.
Equity: We want to eliminate barriers and ensure opportunities for everyone.
Creating equity within our organizations means ensuring impartiality and fairness for all communities we hope to hire and advance. This means addressing historical inequity and oppression that has existed in our systems to date. It means developing structure and consistency across the hiring process, building policies that ensure accessibility for all groups, and taking ongoing steps to intentionally address bias in decision-making.
Inclusion: We are striving for everyone to feel invited, understood, and heard.
Instilling inclusion means consciously taking steps to ensure that people of all communities feel invited to participate in and engage with your organization. It means making sure that people feel understood, and that their voices are heard. This experience starts in the hiring process but continues long after employees are integrated into your organization.
Belonging: We want everyone to feel valued and embraced.
This is what we are ultimately striving for in our diversity efforts—that people are celebrated for who they are and feel like they can bring their full selves to work. Belonging gets to the heart of people feeling psychological safety and emotional connection to their work. Belonging inspires a sense of empowerment and commitment. There is no stronger litmus test for the impact of your work than helping people feel like they belong.
Wherever you find yourself in this work, remember that you are striving for progress and not perfection—and that every step is progress. Too often, we make the mistake of waiting to act until the path is clear and the goal easily attainable. Or we wait for problems to reveal themselves rather than actively rooting out problems. We need to be less afraid of taking the wrong actions and more afraid of inaction.
It's important to note that every team and organization is different, and there is not a single, universal way to successfully approach this work. Rather than provide proscriptive recommendations, we aim to help you assess where your team and organization are today and then serve up options for the ways you can advance this work. Each chapter of this book explores in detail a different part of the hiring process where you have the opportunity to make change.
The book begins with uncovering your diversity needs and setting your goals in Chapter 2. In Chapter 3, we profile 12 underrepresented job-seeker communities. From there, we shift gears to tactics for building an inclusive brand (Chapter 4), writing inclusive job descriptions (Chapter 5), diversity sourcing (Chapter 6), minimizing selection bias (Chapter 7), inclusive interviewing (Chapter 8), ensuring equitable job offers (Chapter 9), and strategies for retaining and advancing underrepresented job seekers (Chapter 10). We conclude the book in Chapter 11 with insights on how you can mobilize this work across your organization by engaging other leaders, hiring managers, HR, and your broader team in diversity hiring.
Each chapter includes an assessment. Rather than share policy and have everyone ask, “Does this belong to me?” these assessments prompt you to expand your perspective and question assumptions about what you can advance and what job belongs to whom. Usually, when someone is affected by a policy, they should have a say in it—and a little shift in perspective can bring that principle into focus. The assessment accounts for a simple truth: despite how much you already know, you might find there is still more to discover.
To ease the transition from intent to impact, we end each chapter with one thing you can do to get started: a single action you can take now regardless of your current situation. It's our hope that taking these steps will mean measurable progress in your diversity goals.
As you take this journey, remember that uncomfortable discussions can inspire changes in perspective. Educating yourself, the way you're doing now, is its own kind of progress. Be willing to go further. Lean into the discomfort the way you have in other areas of business, and you will reap the shared rewards of purposeful risk-taking.
Thank you for your leadership in advancing this work. If you've decided to continue, you've already started.
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