In recent years, a growing number of companies have recognized that having a diverse workforce is essential to attracting and retaining top talent. Some have created truly innovative diversity hiring programs.
There are a number of reasons companies have made diversity and inclusion a priority, including the fact that more diverse teams lead to greater innovation. For one thing, younger candidates, who will soon become the majority of this country’s workforce, have said loudly and clearly that this matters to them.
In a recent Monster survey, 83% of Gen Z candidates told us that a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is important when choosing where to work. These candidates are looking for companies where they will feel welcomed, comfortable, and supported, and that’s inclusive and welcoming of others as well.
There’s also evidence that prioritizing diversity and inclusion has a positive impact on a company’s bottom line. A 2020 study from the global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found that companies in the top quartile for gender and racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have higher financial returns than the competition.
Not all diversity and inclusion programs are created equally, but we’ve identified five that have gone above and beyond to create an atmosphere where more candidates feel welcome and accepted.
In 2015, Pinterest became one of the first companies to set annual public hiring goals. It expanded the universities it recruits from and launched an internship program for freshman and sophomore students from underrepresented backgrounds, had every employee participate in training to prevent unconscious bias, and created a training and mentorship program for Black software engineers and students.
Pinterest made it a requirement to interview at least one person from an underrepresented background and one female candidate for each open leadership position. In the 2020 annual report, Pinterest said it is making an even stronger effort to increase representation at the leadership level by proactively building relationships with internal and external talent, requiring at least two underrepresented candidates at the final interview for any leadership role, and setting specific leadership hiring goals and metrics.
In addition to hiring from a wide range of schools, conferences, and professional development organizations, Slack has improved the application process. Slack worked with the writing platform Textio to evaluate job descriptions based on words and phrases that would attract or detract candidates depending on the person’s gender, age, and other demographics. Instead of asking engineering candidates to solve a coding program during the interview, Slack implemented blind code reviews that people can take at home or in the office. The assignment is evaluated based on a clear checklist and any personal identifiers such as name, age, or race are removed from the application to mitigate bias.
Another way that Slack mitigates bias throughout the interview stage is to have the team determine the specific characteristics and skills the ideal candidate needs and to come up with a list of set questions that all candidates are asked. This makes the interview process fairer and makes it less likely that people will consciously or unconsciously favor people who are similar to themselves. Additionally, interviewers practice their interviewing skills and get better at identifying potential biases during the interview by conducting mock interviews with other Slack employees.
In addition to providing their “Unconscious Bias” training for employees, these are just a few of Microsoft’s initiatives for hiring diverse candidates: The Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA) helps active-duty U.S. service members develop the career skills to work in the IT industry through access to resources and training. Microsoft has inclusive hiring for people with disabilities: They host Ability Hiring events, educate their teams on disability etiquette, and candidates can request interview accommodations such as an extended interview time, assistive technology like as the use of a screen-reader and braille keyboard or captioning services, and sign language interpreter services. Microsoft also has a specific program for hiring and training people on the Autism spectrum.
General Motors recruits diverse talent through partnerships with organizations such as Women of Color in Technology, Disability:IN, National Society of Black Engineers, and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. In addition to specific programs that are focused on hiring veterans and people with disabilities, General Motors has innovative programs to attract female talent. For example, the Take 2 career reentry initiative in partnership with the Society of Women Engineers and iRelaunch is a 12-week “reinternship” program for people who have taken a career break in their field for two or more years whether they have left to build a family, try a new career path, or pursue a passion project. Although the program is for both men and women, it is known that one of the biggest career hurdles women face is that they are more likely to take time off to raise kids or take care of other family members.
Vista Equity Partners
Vista Equity Partners actively recruits and hires diverse talent at its firm and across its portfolio of companies at all levels. Vista Equity Partners is helping to close the opportunity gap through three main initiatives. The Vista Frontier Fellows program is a summer internship program for women, African Americans, Native Americans, and Latinx candidates who are traditionally been underrepresented in finance and private equity. Vista works with universities and organizations to find qualified candidates and invites other private equity firms to recruit from the pool of candidates. Vista Equity Partners is a member of the Thirty Percent Coalition, a coalition of companies that work to increase gender diversity in U.S. corporate boardrooms and leadership teams.
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