Recruiting, Talent

Recruiting Strategist Says D&I Starts with the Job Ad

The Black Lives Matter movement has swept the nation once again in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and this time, change will occur and it starts with your workplace.


It’s no secret that the younger generations expect to work in a diverse organization, as they themselves are the most diverse generation this country has ever seen. If you are looking to boost your diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts in order to attract all types of talent, one expert says you should start with the job ad.

How companies attract the best candidates will be determined in part by how D&I are emphasized during the recruiting process, says Jack Whatley, a recruiting strategist who specializes in creating employer branding campaigns.

 “Many jobseekers today expect an inclusive, diverse workplace,” Whatley says. “The main idea of recruiting should be that it’s color-blind and gender-blind. A company with that core principle strengthens a worker’s sense of belonging, actively demonstrates great opportunity for all, and signals a strong company that sincerely desires to hire the best people, regardless of race or gender.”

“It needs to be a message companies share with job candidates—specifically how they are inclusive in their culture, the ways they value diversity, and how they operate their company through these and all of their values on a daily basis,” he adds.

Whatley offers these suggestions for businesses that want to bring more D&I into the recruiting process:

Choose words carefully and precisely in job descriptions. Unconsciously, some companies may indicate gender bias in the way they describe posted jobs. One study shows that men will apply for a job if they meet only 60% of the listed criteria, but women will apply only if they meet 100%.

“Review your job advertisements and scrutinize how they are worded,” Whatley says. “Strong or aggressive words such as ‘enforcement’ or ‘exhaustive,’ for example, might draw a higher proportion of men applying for roles when many women are just as qualified, or better qualified, for the position.”

Widen the net with a diverse outbound strategy. Identify communities to reach for job opportunities, and expand the geography of the talent search to find underrepresented communities.

“Companies have to go the extra mile and cast a wide net,” Whatley says. “Posting on community boards, reaching out to meetup groups and industry-specific job networks are ways to reach people who otherwise may not have known about it.”

Screen in—don’t screen out. Many companies, in the interest of efficiency, may overlook highly qualified candidates by using a quick screen-out formula, which Whatley notes often entails a brisk, biased sifting through of résumés.

“A candidate doesn’t need to check all the boxes at the first glance of their résumé,” Whatley says. “In fact, companies sometimes make those boxes too specific and don’t see how a candidate’s other strengths and overall experience more than compensate. You might find that leaving out some of the check-box requirements opens doors for different and highly qualified applicants.”

Involve the team. Whatley says interviewers should focus on skills rather than commonalities that could cause bias. “Hiring managers are more likely to view candidates who are culturally similar to them as a better fit for the job they’re trying to fill,” Whatley says. “But that limits your recruitment process, so include a team of people at each stage of the process. You’ll get more opinions on each candidate and thus be sure you’re hiring the right person.”

 “The recruiting process can set the right tone for a company to maintain standards of diversity and inclusion,” Whatley says. “They are better able to win top talent and improve overall customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction.”

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