10 Tips for Hiring and Building a Diverse Sales Force

Does your company have a strategy in place for diversity equity and inclusion (DEI)? If not, don’t worry. Here are 10 ways to increase DEI going forward.

1. Recruit Candidates Nationally

National hiring practices increase potential hires and provide you with a wider range of talent. Employers who recruit nationally find employees faster and are able to expand into new areas.

 

2. Customize Your Website’s Career Page

Ensure that your website contains content designed to attract the people you want in your organization. Optimize your site for mobile. In 2019, a Glassdoor study revealed that almost 60 percent of job seekers conduct searches using mobile devices.

Ensure that your online application process is easy and mobile-friendly. Create a careers page listing everything a potential hire might want to know. Try to give applicants a sense of what it’s like to work with your team.

 

3. Practice Compensation Transparency

In 2014, a survey of HR professionals revealed that 13 percent believed employee salaries should be freely disclosed. Forty-two percent said that only salary ranges for positions and departments should be transparent.

Eighty-seven percent of potential employees care more about money than benefits. Tell your candidates exactly how much you are prepared to spend for their services.

Transparency eliminates salary negotiations. It creates a sense of inclusion. It lets candidates determine whether the compensation being offered is consistent with their expectations.

 

4. Target Diversity

Successful recruiters tell us that the biggest hurdle to workplace diversity is a lack of candidates to interview. To overcome that, seek diverse candidates at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and at community colleges. The people you are looking for might never have considered a career in your organization.

Use search terms that include veterans, people with disabilities and older workers. Find hidden talent in those with ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and autism spectrum disorder. They are passionate workers and out-of-the-box thinkers.

 

5. Seek Candidates from the Top Women’s Colleges

Women’s college graduates have strong leadership potential. Twenty percent of congresswomen are women’s college graduates. According to Businessweek, 30 percent of up-and-coming women in corporate America graduated from top women’s colleges.

These percentages are noteworthy when you consider that only two percent of women overall attend women’s colleges. A Mount Holyoke graduate in the financial industry recently shared that attending a top women’s college prepared her to hold her own in male-dominated environments.

 

6. Avoid Getting into a Hiring Rut

The tech/startup field ranks low on diversity. Executives say it’s because their HR teams have easy access to white male tech talent.

Recruiters can limit workforce diversity by hiring the same type of employee over and over. If certain types of individuals are great performers, why change your recruitment strategy?

Good results can keep us from achieving exceptional results. By sticking to what works, hiring professionals miss out on candidates who might be extraordinary performers.

 

7. Foster a Diverse Workplace Culture

Post positions on job boards like Diversity Working and Recruit Disability. Offer diversity-intensive mentorships, internships and scholarships for underrepresented groups.

Implement diversity training for managers and executives. Create an in-house team of inclusion specialists who develop strategies to promote and strengthen workplace diversity.

Conduct unconscious bias training for HR staff. Numerous studies show that the hiring process is fraught with unconscious sexism, racism and ageism. HR software tools can generate unbiased job posts and identify best-fit candidates.

 

8. Implement Recruiting Strategies that Target Other Industries

A candidate may not need previous experience in your industry to be a good fit. They may have skills that translate well to your organization. A broader candidate search increases the potential for diversity and inclusion while reaching more candidates.

A diverse hiring team shows a company’s commitment to a diverse workforce. Sending recruiters to local job fairs, college recruitment days and veteran employment events can reach underrepresented groups while increasing potential hires.

 

9. Beware of Recruiter Bias

Studies reveal that bias is alive and well in hiring practices even among experienced recruiters who work hard to overcome it. For example:

 

  • Almost 80 percent of recruiters associate men with career and women with family.
  • Seventy percent show an implicit preference for white people over black people.
  • Candidates with identical resumes were considered worthy of hire by 80 percent of recruiters when those resumes listed a man’s name. When the resumes listed a woman’s name, only 49 percent were deemed a worthy hire.
  • Candidates with names that sounded white received more calls for interviews than candidates with names that sounded black
  • When the genders worked together on projects, men received more credit if the project was a success. When the project was a bust, women received more of the blame.

 

10. Omit Gendered Keywords in Job Descriptions

Studies have demonstrated that male and female candidates are perceived differently based solely on gender. Women perceived as nice are considered weak and wishy-washy. Women perceived as competent are considered cold, selfish and mean.

Gendered keywords can be loaded with associations that have nothing to do with job recruitment. Eliminating keywords like aggressive, hard-hitting, compassionate and nurturing can increase applicant responses by almost 50 percent.

Recruitment professionals have pointed out that diversity and inclusion are not the same thing. The goal of diversity recruitment is to experience the benefits of inclusion. Building a recruiting strategy that promotes diversity is a critical start to ensuring your team finds talent that will bring fresh perspective and new ideas which will bolster the overall culture and dynamic of your entire organization.