3 minutes

How to Improve Diversity In Hiring Practices

With rapid shifts in global health concerns and widespread social justice movements, 2020 created an opportunity for organizations to re-evaluate many aspects of their business, including their impact on diversity within their industry. In response, like many other companies, BVA implemented a deeper focus on diversity and inclusion within our organization.

While there were many areas of inclusion we felt our agency already excelled at, the actual diversity of our staff was lacking. As we were creating our D&I objectives, we knew recruitment was the crux of actually making impacts on our company’s level of diversity.

From our first employee census back in September 2020, to our most recent in October 2021, BVA has increased our non-male population by almost 10% and our non-white population by over 7%. For a company of our size, BVA is proud of this change, but we also recognize this as just the start. In this article we’ll discuss some areas we focused on over the last year to help impact our population and create a better BVA, and how other like-minded businesses can do the same.

Why Does Diversity & Inclusion In Hiring Matter?

To put it simply, diversity makes a company better. Including different backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultures on your team can facilitate innovation, bring in new skills, and create more positive change than if every voice at the table is coming from the same point of view. By valuing and encouraging different perspectives, BVA is able to more appropriately support our clients and the customers they serve through wider representation.

This is important because our team works with a broad range of eCommerce brands in varying industry verticals with diverse customer bases. Having diverse employees on our own team who can relate to our clients’ target audiences aids in our ability to create better eCommerce and digital experiences, such as diverse and inclusive UX/UI Design. Overall, when our employees come from a variety of backgrounds, this also leads to better communication and collaboration with our clients.

How to Improve Diversity In Hiring Practices

We came up with numerous ways to impact D&I in our organization, but knew we had to be very intentional with which initiatives to spearhead. We chose things we had full control over implementing and would maximize our impact on talent pool demographics. The things we selected are something any company can do, regardless of size or industry, and brought us success. Here are some of the areas we decided to focus on.

1) RECRUITMENT MESSAGING FOR ATTRACTING DIVERSE CANDIDATES

As one of our first steps, we made reviewing and updating our hiring process an action item in our agency’s Diversity & Inclusion Plan. We wanted every element of our recruiting process to reflect our mission statement: At BVA, you belong. To us, this meant BVA is a workplace inclusive and welcoming to all backgrounds and that we judge employees on performance and nothing else.

We then not only shared our mission on social media, but also highlighted it on our career page since we know this is the first place many prospective employees go to better understand a company’s values and culture. We made additional updates on our site to also showcase the ways we support a more diverse workforce through parental leave, remote work, and flex hours.

We also updated our job descriptions to ensure our postings aligned with our diversity and inclusion values. This included removing education requirements, removing subjective language, and focusing on candidates’ experience to expand our talent pools. We also brought our diversity and inclusion values front and center on each position listing to let our own words show our commitment, instead of using the standard Equal Opportunity Act language as a simple footnote on our job boards.

We encourage other companies to start by creating a message or mission statement that feels authentic to your company. Once you have a goal, you can use that as a guideline for your hiring process so that you always have a basis to refer back to.

2) RECRUITMENT TOOLS FOR INCLUSIVE HIRING

Every touch point you have with a candidate during their job search is a chance to showcase your company culture. Because job seekers have access to a variety of digital platforms and information prior to an interview, it’s important to ensure they have a great experience even before directly interacting with your company.

Although BVA strives to give every potential hire a great experience, there is always room to improve. We started by researching available options in our current applicant tracking system (ATS) to refine our process. We were fortunate that our ATS, Greenhouse, had started incorporating D&I into their platform, so we turned on all available features and have been actively updating our system as new ones are released. Some of these features have included candidates being able to select their preferred pronouns and being able to dictate their names so the BVA team is identifying them properly from the start.

If you have an ATS in place, we recommend researching what things are available that you can activate. If you aren't currently using an ATS, you can still do all of this manually. Ask applicants their preferred pronouns and name pronunciation as part of your introductory calls and ensure it's shared with the hiring team to give a great experience throughout your process.

3) SOURCING DIVERSE CANDIDATES

In order to create a diverse team, you need access to a diverse pool of candidates. Additionally, a larger pipeline of talent increases the amount of opportunities your company has to find and hire new team members.

While there is a lot of wonderful talent on diversity job boards, we have found the volume of postings are often a lot to compete with and in some instances can be expensive for the volume of applicants they bring. For us, sourcing has been the best method to find our talent.

We utilize LinkedIn Recruiter to manually source talent. It gives us the ability to search for candidates who come from specific universities, organizations, and more. We also have joined groups on LinkedIn focused on diversity that allows us to introduce BVA to a broader audience. Being a fully remote company has also benefited us as we are able to hire talent from any and all areas of the country. We also use Slack as an internal communication platform and as another sourcing tool. Whether it's a specific technology, industry, or a city you're looking for, Slack has a channel for everything and has been a great place for us to post jobs.

While diversity specific job boards weren’t a great fit for us, they can yield excellent results depending on your company. We recommend trying boards and sourcing to assess what is more successful for your organization.

4) AN INCLUSIVE HIRING PROCESS

BVA acknowledges everyone has biases that may influence our thoughts and attitudes towards others. To eliminate as much of this conscious and unconscious bias from our hiring, we reviewed every piece of our process, communications, interview questions, scorecards, etc. to make them as objective and consistent as possible.

Our team made an effort to incorporate our D&I mission in each of these pieces of the hiring process. We recommend sitting down and reviewing your current process with a mission statement in mind. Ask questions like:

  • Does your career page / job posting language reflect your mission?
  • Do the people you have on your hiring team represent this mission?
  • How about the interview questions that they are asking?

It’s important to note this process requires continuous review because it's inherently all about people. New people mean new situations you may not have anticipated, so it’s important to review your process on an ongoing basis to ensure it lives up to your company’s standards. You can then look for retraining opportunities, changing verbiage in your postings or interview questions, and implement feedback from your candidates to continually improve their experience.

As you’re reviewing your own hiring process, if you hit a spot where it doesn't align to your mission, put energy toward updating that piece first. An easy way to find the areas you’re missing the mark, is sending out a follow-up survey to past applicants and even new hires. Many ATS systems offer these types of surveys already, and if not, you can manually create one to gather the data yourself.

Closing Thoughts

While we’re thrilled with the success we’ve seen over the last year, our agency still has work to do. We know diversity and inclusion efforts can often feel overwhelming because there are so many areas where companies can improve, but we believe any company regardless of size or industry has factors in their control that, with the right focus and planning, can make big impacts.

Check out BVA’s career page for our current open roles and more insight into our agency life!

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