How to Recruit and Hire Diverse Candidates

The most common mistake organizations make in trying to recruit and hire diverse candidates is to focus entirely on the hiring process and call it a day. But to attract top talent from an array of identities, organizations should look at their culture from top to bottom, kicking the tires for instances of bias or inequity. Remember, applicants don’t simply accept roles based on their experience during the hiring process — although, that process should be inclusive, professional, and welcoming, too — they’re also basing their decision on what their lives will look like if they join the team.

We’ve put together a step-by-step action plan to help recruit and hire diverse candidates by ensuring policies that meet a variety of needs and a hiring plan that gets the word out to as many different types of people as possible. 


1. Offer benefits that really help people.

To attract diverse candidates, organizations must provide for those candidates’ needs, and that means expanding benefits. Critically, benefits aren’t perks like buckets of snacks or kombucha kegs. Benefits allow jobs to fit into the complex lives of your employees and to support them as whole people. 

When you’re assessing your benefits, look at offering:

  • Paid family leave for parents of all genders — not just leave limited to birth parents — as well as leave for employees caring for other family members
  • Subsidized child care
  • Retirement options
  • Student loan repayment assistance


2. Institute policies built around flexibility.

Alongside those expanded benefits is a need for more flexibility — applicants cite it as a major priority on the job hunt. Flexible policies — namely remote work and flexible hours — also open up a massive applicant base beyond what’s available for co-located work. 


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3. Outline clear, standardized paths to promotion that are standardized.

From the jump, applicants should have a sense of their growth potential in a role, and they need to see that promotions are handed out according to a specific and consistent protocol. Diverse applicants shouldn’t have to wonder if they’ll be passed over because of who they are — they should understand the concrete metrics for measuring their success and have a clear sense of the goalposts.


4. Eliminate unconscious bias from your company culture.

Most everyone has some sort of unconscious bias, and it comes out whether we want it to or not. But unconscious bias isn’t a permanent affliction: With the right training and support, we can unlearn these biases. 

HR professionals should take the opportunity to bring in outside professionals, who can facilitate discussions and training to help employees understand their own bias and overcome it. Rooting out bias is key to creating a workplace that welcomes everyone.


5. Communicate these inclusive policies in your job descriptions.

A job description is the entry point to your organization for most applicants. So, this is absolutely the time to vigorously communicate the work you do to make your organization welcoming to diverse candidates. Be explicit about the policies and benefits you offer — and include the anti-bias work and initiatives leadership has implemented.


6. Remove any biased language from job descriptions or company marketing materials, like your website or social media.

You’ll want to be aware of your language in any job description. Avoid:

  • Highly specific jargon, especially for more junior employees who are likely to learn on the job
  • Gendered language like “dominant,” “aggressive,” or “gentle”


If your marketing copy makes it sound like a college frat house or an elite social club, you’re all but guaranteed to drive away the talent you’re looking for. Avoid:

  • Tech-bro language like “rockstar,” “hacker,” “guru,” or “crush it” 
  • Crowing about the elite universities your employees attended


7. Work with a staffing firm to eliminate internal bias and standardize the hiring process.

Internal teams have their own biases for any number of reasons — and sometimes, they aren’t the most objective in the hiring process. What’s more: HR teams often get bogged down with the process of hiring, leaving them with little time and resources to focus on maintaining company culture and values. Working with a staffing firm means taking the internal bias out of hiring and freeing up valuable time to focus on organizational issues.

Staffing firms are also already adept at focusing on diversity — their policies focus on relationships and inclusivity. Their procedures are also codified to be exactly the same across each and every hire, ensuring an equitable process for everyone.