Diversify Your Candidate Pool When Hiring

Operating in a global economy presents significant challenges to businesses. On the human resources side of the equation, assembling a diverse workforce can be part of an effective overall strategy to remain competitive and generate more employee and customer loyalty. The diversity of your workforce is a direct reflection of your organization and your appreciation of the benefits a diverse workforce has to offer.

Diversity is not about quotas or affirmative action. And it involves, in part, the conscious recognition of the changing face of our nation and the economy in which we operate. Diversity as a concept is one that welcomes different ways of thinking and expression as valuable business resources because those differences can generate new and creative product and service ideas and methods of problem solving.

Diversity is not easy to achieve. Therefore, it is important as a manager to take advantage of the opportunities to support a diverse work environment as they arise. Candidate sourcing is one of those opportunities.

Many companies have established processes and procedures for locating job candidates. And often those are executed through a dedicated staffing or recruiting department that uses, for example, employee referral programs, college campus recruiting, newspaper ads, job fairs, Web site postings, external recruiters, or affiliations with various trade and professional organizations. While staffing and recruiting specialists may also be trying to address diversity, you can help too.

When you talk to your staffing representative about the job requirements and competencies, be sure to ask them about how they will source the candidates. And you can make some suggestions of your own.

For example, did you know that there are many organizations that can help you assemble a more diverse candidate pool? Oftentimes, there is a particular minority Chamber of Commerce in your area that has programs designed to identify potential minority candidates in various fields. Or there could be a specific professional or trade association of black, Asian, Hispanic, Latino, gay, or other traditionally underserved group that would be pleased to reach out to its own membership with information about your open position. They also would be pleased to work with you to determine other sources for assembling a diverse candidate pool.

In terms of job ads, there are local newspapers and job-search magazines all over the country that are targeted to particular diverse audiences. Think about spending a few dollars to place an ad in those papers at the same time that you run an ad in the more traditional papers.

Your company may have employee resource groups, like the Black Professionals, Disabled Workers, or GLOBE. After checking with your legal counsel, there may be a way to leverage those relationships to help you find additional candidates without involving the groups in day-to-day business issues. And that may be as simple as weekly or monthly e-mails to all the employee resource groups to be sure they know about current job openings in your company.

In addition, there are diversity hiring coalitions all over the country. There also are dedicated Web sites that provide ideas and resources for you to explore ways in which you can identify possible minority candidates. And there are diversity-based job boards on the Internet that have already put together a diverse pool of applicants — all you need do is enter the site and conduct a search for the appropriate qualifications.

The value of a diverse workforce cannot be understated. Paying attention to it does not mean that you have to hire someone who isn’t qualified. Rather, you are seeking to hire the most qualified person from a more diverse candidate pool. When you, as a manager, pay attention to how candidates are sourced, you can help increase the likelihood that your pool includes more of the best qualified candidates in your area. If, as a result, you hire a person from a traditionally disadvantaged group, you have gained a lot more than simply filling your open position.

Be sure to consult with your staffing and human resources departments about the many ways in which you can help diversify your candidate pools. Your efforts will not go unrewarded.

Barrie Gross is former Vice President and Senior Corporate Counsel (Employment Law) for an international Fortune 1000 company and is a regular contributor to AllBusiness.com. She is the founder of Barrie Gross Consulting, a human resources training and consulting firm dedicated to assisting companies to manage and develop their human capital. Visit www.barriegrossconsulting.com to learn more about Barrie and the services BGC provides.

Note: The information here does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you have a legal issue or wish to obtain legal advice, you should consult an attorney in your area concerning your particular situation and facts. Nothing presented on this site or in this article establishes or should be construed as establishing an attorney-client or confidential relationship between you and Barrie Gross. This article is provided only as general information, which may or may not reflect the most current legal developments or be complete.