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Build a pipeline for diversity and inclusiveness

The entire world is talking about diversity and inclusion. They’re in vogue now, but we all know that welcoming diversity and being inclusive have always been the right things to do. Right, but not necessarily simple. Believing in them, talking about them, naming them as core values, and incorporating them into your culture create awareness—but that’s all. If your culture isn’t yet diverse, you’re not doing recruitment right. It’s a process that includes building a pipeline for diversity, inviting diverse people in, and making them feel at home.

It’s important to remember just why diversity and inclusion (D&I) are important to your company. First, we know without a doubt that diverse teams lead to better decision-making, greater innovation, and higher levels of performance and profitability. Second, today’s top candidates want to know what you’re doing to ensure D&I. This applies not only to younger generations, but to all generations, races, ethnicities, and genders. Finally, it has become a business imperative that your brand and reputation include a strong commitment to D&I as well as an employee base that’s congruent with your customers. Companies lacking diversity are both losing business and candidate interest. Even Google is beginning to show signs that their lack of diversity is affecting their ability to recruit, according to Given their recruitment history, that’s a big statement. So, how do you achieve a high level of D&I?

A strategic process

Building the kind of community you want is a process that begins with attracting the candidates you’d like to invite into your company. It extends to how valued you make people feel throughout recruitment and onboarding, and how comfortable and respected people feel as they experience your culture as an employee. Your words and actions must match to create the reality you promise. Start with this list of initial steps:

  • Conduct an audit of your people processes, from recruiting and onboarding to developing and retaining them. Combine this information with data from employee engagement surveys and other assessments.
  • Define your diversity and inclusion goals and identify discrepancies between them and the data you’ve collected.
  • Develop strategies for a more diverse and inclusive community and set a process for measuring results.

Creating a solid pipeline

Perhaps the most critical thing to remember in creating your pipeline is this: If your candidate sources are not diverse, you will not be able to drive a diverse pipeline and workforce. Using a single source as a recruiting strategy, like posting on Indeed or LinkedIn, is not a strategy at all. It’s simply one of many, diverse sources to choose from. By using diverse sources, you’ll ensure that your candidate population closely matches both your needs and your D&I goals. There are many resources available to find diverse candidates including:  organizations like the Hispanic Chamber and Black Women’s Chamber, the network of colleges and universities that serve students of African American heritage, Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and other women’s professional organizations, religion-based schools, organizations that help economically challenged individuals, and second-chance rehabilitation resources. Don’t forget our military veterans, a diverse and talented group of people who’ve served our country and are too often overlooked.

Develop relationships with these communities, invite their members into your company, and make it easy for them to become productive and welcome employees. Maintaining relationships with the right communities and reaching out with the appropriate communications to diverse audiences should become integral parts of building a solid and continuous pipeline of exceptional candidates from all walks of life.

Getting inclusion right

Bringing talent into your organization is a big investment, so it makes sense to make people happy—all of your people—after they’re hired so they’ll stay with you a while. In your journey toward building a more inclusive organization, it goes without saying that senior leadership must be empathetic and fully committed to building diversity. It’s also important to remember that workplace culture for any individual is only as big as that person’s direct boss. Assess for conscious and unconscious bias; train, especially managers and supervisors; encourage diverse points of view; listen and make sure all voices are heard, respected, and valued; and create an environment where everyone can comfortably bring their “whole selves” to work, be safe, and feel they belong. In this kind of workspace, every employee has an equal opportunity to flourish, making all boats rise. Diverse and inclusive communities face their challenges through a lens of possibility that spawns meaningful change.

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