If you’re starting your own business, you may be bringing in people you know to work for you. It’s understandable that you want a team you trust and with whom you feel comfortable. That team may, in turn, recruit people that they know.
The problem with this is that it can lead to a very homogenous workforce – not just in characteristics like race, gender and age, but in education, socioeconomic background and life experience in general. You can hire a team that looks like the United Nations, but if they’re all fellow Harvard grads from the past decade or they all grew up near you, that’s not true diversity.
You likely know that a diverse workforce can improve innovation and increase your chances of reaching a larger customer base – thereby improving your odds of success. But how do you go about recruiting and hiring a truly diverse group of people?
Strategies for hiring a diverse team
Diversity starts with how you recruit and select employees. Here are some strategies recommended by human resources, recruiting and legal professionals:
Use neutral job descriptions in your ads and postings: For example, avoid using aggressive descriptions that often appeal primarily to men. Saying you want “recent graduates” will discourage older but more experienced people from applying.
Don’t toss out “non-traditional” resumes: Some employers get nervous when they see a lapse in job experience of even a few months or don’t recognize the college that’s listed on a resume. A lot of highly qualified people take a unique path. Focus on the skills an applicant brings rather than the chronology of their education and work experience.
Involve your management team in the selection process: Don’t just rely on your own instincts, no matter how good you think they are. Let one or two other people review resumes and applications and participate in the interviewing. Just make sure they (and you) know what questions you can and cannot legally ask someone.
Hiring a diverse workforce is just the start. It’s crucial that everyone feels that their contributions matter, that their opinions are valued and that their advancement is based on what they bring to the company. This can help improve your chances of success and likely help you avoid charges of discrimination either by employees, customers or vendors.