I have the distinct honor of partnering with a variety of organizations regarding recruiting and talent acquisition. This unique opportunity offers a broad perspective of the recruiting landscape that spans multiple industries, sectors, and disciplines. Each of these organizations is vastly different, however, they all share a similar dilemma: how to attract, recruit, and hire diverse talent. This sounds like a fairly simple issue, however upon further evaluation, finding a solution may be a bit more complex than you might suppose. In order to answer this question, companies must do a bit of soul searching to uncover their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in relation to recruiting for diversity. Yes, you read that right — a diversity recruiting SWOT analysis. However, it’s necessary to identify the appropriate questions for each quadrant. The answers to these questions will allow your organization to craft customizable solutions to any diversity recruiting challenges.
Here are a few substantive questions you should include in your diversity recruiting SWOT analysis:
What are the demographics of your city, state, or region? Understanding your demographics will assist you in properly assessing your potential success to identify a candidate pool that is necessary to achieve your goal. Make sure your information is based on data rather than anecdotal approaches. Anecdotal approaches often foster recruiting effort biases, which leads to thinking things like, “There aren’t any qualified, fill in the blank, in this market.” This results in diminished efforts, and ultimately, diminished results.
Is your culture conducive and inclusive of underrepresented groups? Assessing whether or not you have a positive, negative, or no reputation in the market will be essential to your level of success. Do your recruiters have a pulse of what the talent market is saying about your company? This is not what is written on Glassdoor or Yelp (although that plays a part). You want to know what is being said from individuals who may have never set foot in your company. I find that many organizations don’t realize they have no “street cred” and discount the social impact of a poor diversity reputation. If you aren’t speaking to candidates about their experience, whether it be regarding the application, interview process or onboarding, you are missing an opportunity to receive feedback that can assist in becoming more inclusive and welcoming.
Does your rhetoric match your actions? This can be a tricky area! In my experience, many organizations have a zeal for diversity and have found ways to communicate that message in impactful literary form. However, they often don’t realize their actual processes contradict their words. It is quite common for firms to include a diversity statement on their website and certainly statements required for compliance with EEOC regulations. However, the difference between a statement on a company website and the actual experience during an interview can be significant. For example, when minority candidates or underrepresented groups interview, you could be sending a message with your interview panel that says “we value sameness.” If none of your panelists represent any of the underrepresented groups, you aren’t offering an optimal candidate experience. In this setting, it is quite easy for diverse candidates to fall into the “fit factor” trap. When there is no diverse voice to offer an alternative perspective, you are diminishing your potential positive outcomes. Make sure your organization walks the talk and you’ll see a positive ROI on your recruiting efforts.
Are you being transparent? All too often we use a canned and uninspired approach to talent acquisition. We assume one size fits all and that is simply not the case. If you are going to be successful at recruiting diverse talent, then you will need to be intentional, genuine, and authentic. Consider that there are some talent populations who you need to have candid conversations with regarding your company’s efforts to improve. And of course, while it is always your goal to paint the most positive picture of your company, transparency builds trust with minority populations. If your organization has areas of focus regarding underrepresented groups or cross-cultural impact goals that could directly impact that individual and you haven’t yet achieved that goal, then you should be comfortable expressing that to the candidate. You could ultimately find an ally in your effort to improve the company in that specific area.
These are just a few areas of focus to consider as you craft your diversity recruiting initiatives. Understand that it will take hard work and consistency to develop a more diverse and inclusive work environment. Establishing the proper mindset and asking these types of questions will help facilitate your diversity recruiting SWOT analysis and clear your path to the elusive talent gems hidden within underrepresented groups.