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Thinking Outside the Box to Source a Diverse Candidate Pipeline

In a recent webinar titled Inclusion in Action: How to Source Diverse Talent, our speakers shared their best strategies and tips to build a more diverse candidate pipeline. They reviewed some tried-and-true platforms tactics, like using LinkedIn’s People Also Viewed section and recruiting from underrepresented communities on GitHub. But they also shared some phenomenal out-of-the-box ideas to source a diverse candidate pipeline. With so much competition for talent, we wanted to share some of those ideas to help you stand out.

But first, a brief introduction to our speakers:

  • Katharine Zeleski, our moderator, and the Co-Founder and President of PowerToFly. PowertoFly was launched to connect women with companies that value gender diversity and inclusion. They partnered with us on this webinar, and just published a recap infographic on sourcing diverse talent.
  • Shavonne Hasfal-McIntosh, the Inclusion & Employee Experience Lead at Shopify
  • Lyndsi McNaughton, Global Talent Acquisition Program Manager at HomeAway

Here’s what they had to say:

Source and engage candidates through events

All of our speakers had really interesting, outside the box ideas for utilizing events to source a diverse candidate pipeline:

  • Virtual career fair: Shavonne shared how Shopify hosted a virtual career fair, where everybody was a racially and gender agnostic avatar. This reduced unconscious bias and allowed interviewers to focus on whether or not the candidate could do the work based on their experience and competencies.
  • Hackathon for new immigrants: Shopify runs a Hackathon in partnership with an organization that supports new immigrants to Canada. Candidates build products and apps to demonstrate that they can do the work, present their projects, then network with people on the development and recruiting teams. So far, they’ve hired 3-5 people through that program.
  • Networking events for passive candidates: Lyndsi shares how HomeAway takes a slightly different approach, using events more for passive candidate engagement than sourcing. They work with Katharine at PowerToFly to host networking events where candidates can hear a tech talk, learn a little bit about what the company is building, and meet people within their peer group. Lyndsi shared that they’re currently interviewing a candidate who didn’t respond via traditional sourcing channels, but reached out after receiving an event invitation. They also had 5 hires from a single event last year!
  • AMA (Ask Me Anything) webinar: Katharine says you can use tools like Zoom, GoToMeeting, or even Google Hangouts to host an AMA every quarter. PowerToFly calls these events “Ask the recruiter,” and allows candidates to ask questions about the company culture, what the company is trying to build, and what the company is doing to become more diverse and inclusive. These webinars help keep candidates warm, and are easier to produce for smaller organizations that don’t have the resources to do big events like those listed above.
  • Community events: Shavonne also stressed the importance of getting out in the communities to attend events and build authentic relationships, rather than waiting for people to come to you. This helps those communities build trust in your organization, understand who you are, what you stand for, and what problems you’re trying to solve.

One final tip on events? Shavonne shares the importance of having a diverse slate of hiring managers, recruiters, and employees attend these events. Your attendees will look at the people they’re meeting from your company and, if they don’t see themselves in that space, they may self-select out.

Tap your employee resource groups

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are employee communities that are based on a shared identity, including race, ethnicity, gender, ability, and sexual orientation. Shavonne shares that they help Shopify build a more inclusive company by providing a community of support for employees who might otherwise feel excluded.

Shavonne finds that the best way to leverage these groups is to make them part of your diversity and inclusion strategic plans or your strategic recruitment plans. She points out that it’s really easy for people in these groups to feel like they are being tokenized or tasked to fix problems by themselves, so it’s important to support them.

Her tips for creating ERGs are:

  1. Clarify their purpose and scope
  2. Build alignment to your overarching D&I strategy
  3. Define their principal activities, and where they will support the business (talent acquisition, employee engagement, or employee retention)
  4. Define the stakeholders outside of the D&I team
  5. Define the annual budget
  6. Ensure they all have a charter which outlines their official name, mission, membership, election process, terms of office, leadership team, and general meetings
  7. Assign them an executive sponsor or senior leadership sponsor
  8. Reward and recognize ERG contributions

When you have an authentic relationship with the people who make up these groups, they can be an invaluable resource for building a diverse candidate pipeline. You can connect with people in your ERGs to suggest networks you can tap into for sourcing. Or, you can connect hiring managers with ERG leadership teams so that they can understand systemically what the barriers to entry for are for those groups. This helps inform and build empathy training to reduce unconscious bias in the recruitment process.

Bake diversity and inclusion into your job descriptions

Katharine shared how women will not apply for a role unless they’re 100 percent qualified, while men will apply when they are only 60 percent qualified. She also cited a Harvard Business Review study that found this happens because women are so used to getting rejected that they decide applying would be a waste of time.

For these reasons, Shopify prefaces every job description by encouraging people to apply, even if they don’t meet all of the requirements. They know that skills and competencies show up in many different ways and can be based on life experience. HomeAway gives candidates the option to opt in to their talent network to express interest in the company, even if they’re not sure about the job description. This can be helpful in the event the candidate doesn’t feel qualified, or if they’re just not interested in any current openings. Then a recruiter can reach out later to learn more about them.

One more unique tip for your job descriptions? Katharine shared how one hiring manager includes his email address on job descriptions, and requests that underrepresented minorities reach out to him directly with applications.

Final thoughts on sourcing a diverse candidate pipeline

If you want to build a diverse candidate pipeline, it’s important to start with intention, set goals, and measure your success. Know where you stand with regard to things like how many employees have completed bias reduction training, and how many underrepresented candidates are sourced. Set goals and implement a success tracker to measure your progress and optimize your diversity and inclusion strategy. As Katharine said, “You can’t grow what you can’t measure.”

Looking for more tips to build a more diverse and inclusive company? Watch our webinar, Building a Diversity and Inclusion Program from Scratch, and download our toolkit, 5 Ways to Keep Your Diversity Goals on Track.