Launching Your Diversity Initiative: 5 Mistakes to Avoid

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There’s no doubt that many companies see diversity initiatives as a top concern for 2022. Nearly 4 in 10 employers cite the need to build a diverse workforce as their top DEI priority in 2022, according to Monster’s most recent Future of Work survey.

It’s on candidates’ minds as well: Nearly half (47%) of Gen Z recruiters say that more than ever before, job seekers expect to learn about a company’s DEI efforts. And a third (32%) of Gen Z candidates placed an employer’s DEI initiatives, gender pay equity and proactive responses to social issues at the top of the list of things that are increasingly important to them.

But planning a diversity initiative and implementing one are two different processes, and some companies are struggling to put their plans into action. Read on to see our list of 5 mistakes to avoid when you’re hoping to create diversity initiatives that stick.

1. Your DEI Promise Doesn’t Match Your Culture (Yet)

Some candidates are surprised to find, after rounds of interviews with a company hyping diversity, that the company’s culture doesn’t live up to the promise. This can make a new employee feel like they were sold a false bill of goods.

In some cases, this is because a company has adjusted its materials and its marketing but not its inner workings. In other cases, it may be that promised diversity initiatives are coming — but change isn’t instant. And it may be a matter of communicating honestly about where you are in the process.

“Some companies are very much at the start of it, and they really want to attract people, but the people they attract now are the first people building the diversity culture,” says Evan Pellett, a recruiter and author of Cracking the Code to a Successful Interview. “The people that are hired in those companies really are the trailblazers in many ways.”

2. There Are No Role Models in Your Top Ranks

It’s a chicken-and-egg problem: Like attracts like, but companies often don’t have diversity at their top levels to act as role models and mentors. And it can be a challenge to track down candidates who are different from the company standard.

“What recruiters and staffing people need to do is be more innovative in terms of where and how they locate this untapped talent,” says Todd Cherches, CEO and co-founder of executive coaching firm BigBlueGumball. In other words, hiring diversity is about spending less time focusing on finding someone who “fits” the culture and the job description, and being more open to identifying potential.

“Very often, what diversity candidates need is simply an opportunity to learn and to grow and to show what they can do, and a shot at the proverbial ‘seat at the table,’” Cherches says. “When given a chance, along with training, mentoring and coaching, there is no telling what a smart and committed person can accomplish and achieve.”

3. You’re Relying on Stale Recruiting Methods

“Using the same old recruiting methods — like simply posting job ads — may no longer be the most effective way of getting the word out about job openings,” Cherches says.

Recruiting for diversity means using a variety of different ways to reach people — including making better use of technology and social media. It also means making efforts to reach out to diverse communities rather than waiting for diverse candidates to respond to your job postings.

“A lot of senior HR leaders are insistent upon making sure that in every interview process, there’s diversity talent in it,” Pellett says. “Companies obviously will hire the best person they can for the role, but they’re making sure that they’re talking to everybody, so no one is missing out.”

4. You Aren’t Using Training to Close the Skills Gap

Getting talent can be difficult, and looking for someone who’s perfect for the role may box you into a corner. Giving opportunities to people may mean offering the chance to train up to a role.

“Companies that are living diversity as opposed to just talking about it are developing training programs that will close the gap,” Pellett says. “They’re so insistent on diversity hiring that if they see someone with 3/4 of what they need, they can close that last quarter of a gap. You’re seeing that more in digital and very deep tech companies.”

5. Your Company Hasn’t Fully Embraced DEI

Hiring diverse employees is just one step in a series of diversity-minded changes a company might make. A true diversity initiative includes more than recruiting and hiring.

“It’s not just about inviting people to the party, but making them feel welcomed and appreciated and valued when they get there,” Cherches says. “It’s about creating a psychologically safe climate and culture, not of ‘tolerance,’ but of acceptance and in an environment of empathy, compassion and understanding where people can bring their true, authentic selves to the workplace.”

Ready to Implement Your Diversity Initiative?

As with most things, the transition from planning to implementation is always easier said than done. When it comes to your diversity plan, you want to make sure that you get it right, which is where we can help. With Monster’s latest diversity hiring guide, you’ll get free access to the latest data and strategies to help you ensure greater workforce diversity.