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3 Ways To Increase Your Team's Diversity

Is your company feeling a little homogenous? You’re not alone. 71 percent of companies want an inclusive culture, but only 12% have reached a “mature” level of diversity and inclusion (source: Breezy HR).

Here are 3 easy ways to increase the diversity on your team. But first, let's look at how we typically find that next great employee.

The network gap

Telling your friends and posting on LinkedIn are tried and true methods. But, drawing from our existing networks all but guarantees more of the same. And if you keep hiring people with the same background, the data shows that you are going to be less competitive, productive, and innovative over time. Companies with diverse employees are more productive than “highly performing homogenous teams” according to University of Michigan research. Additionally, diverse teams are more likely to mirror the make-up of their customer base and avoid group think, the ultimate creativity killer.

Payscale researched referral networks and who benefited. It found that holding all else constant, women of any race and men of color are much less likely to receive referrals than their white male counterparts. White woman are 12 percent less likely, men of color are 26 percent less likely, and women of color are 35 percent less likely to be referred.

That network gap isn’t going to increase your diverse hiring very quickly. Doing so will require doing things differently.

Next up: How to hire who you don’t know.

1. Build new internal networks

Most large companies have employee resource groups, or ERGs. And most ERGs encourage posting of internal jobs to their members. Even if their members aren’t interested, they will know people who you don’t.

Pro tip: Use a link that external people (non-employees) can access and ask that they share the role with their friends and networks.

2. Build new external networks

There are so many ways to expand your network, with varying degrees of effort required.

Don’t underestimate the power of seeking out events beyond your existing circles – like going to meetups or joining new professional organizations and associations, either as a participant or speaker. You can also encourage your company to financially sponsor an event or volunteer to host chapter meetings at your office. Take a look at local chapters of AfroTech, Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) if you are in tech, to name a few.

More easily still, reach new groups by posting your roles on diversity hiring job boards or seeking out universities and community colleges with diverse student populations and posting on their current and alumni job boards. We’ve been impressed by the graduates of Year Up and students from the UW Bothell School of Business.

3. Use diversity recruiting resources

Many large companies have built their own internal diversity recruiting teams that build relationships over time with professional and alumni groups. If you’re with a big company, check to see if you have that in-house expertise. You will be amazed at how fast they work.

If you don’t have access to those internal resources, engage an external recruiter who focuses on hiring diverse candidates, like SM Diversity. They’re easy to find locally and nationally via a quick LinkedIn search.

Just the beginning

These methods are easy and successful. They will work for you, and your team or company will benefit from diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences.

But remember that hiring diverse candidates is just the beginning of building successful, innovative, and high performing teams.

It’s important to ensure that all of your candidates have a great experience throughout the process—from applying and interviewing all the way through employment. After you hire the right candidate, it’s essential to facilitate and maintain a culture of inclusion to ensure that all are included in your team and its everyday rituals and culture.

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