At this point, we’ve all heard the statistics: more diverse teams promote internal innovation, improve sales, and develop better products. You don’t necessarily need a reason to strive for inclusiveness in the workplace, but there are plenty of them to choose from. In spite of this fact, many or even most businesses are still struggling to create diverse workforces. This can be attributed to a whole host of factors, from work environment to historical factors, but on some level your ability to field a diverse team comes down to your ability to hire a diverse team.
This might sound obvious, but in point of fact it’s an area of real cognitive dissonance for many businesses. Diversity seems like an uphill battle precisely because the need for a diverse team isn’t reflected in the methods by which teams come into being. Management sometimes expects to gain a more representative workforce mainly through sheer force of will, rather than adopting recruitment techniques that will actually solve the problem.
Some of these techniques are pretty straightforward: providing implicit bias training for those who screen resumes and interview job candidates, or adjusting the wording of job postings and ads to reflect an inclusive perspective. But some of them require businesses to rethink the way that they recruit. This is where RMA (recruitment marketing automation) comes into play.
The Problem with Networking
Let’s back up a step. When we talk about diversity, we’re talking about two different things. First, there’s acquired diversity, i.e. diversity of educational experience, skills, work experience, etc. Second, there’s inherent diversity, i.e. diversity of race, age, sex/gender, nationality, and other factors. Both are important, and the two types of diversity are, of course, related. For example, in both cases, one of the reasons that it’s often hard to hire diverse candidates is that your current employees’ social and professional networks are likely to be comprised of people similar to themselves. Their old colleagues have, by definition, similar work experiences. Likewise, their friends and acquaintances from college have the same or similar educational backgrounds (and, usually, ages). Because diversity is a hot button issue in education as well, there’s a good chance that they’re mostly of the same race, gender, nationality, etc.
What this means is that while relying on your existing employees' networks when positions open up is usually a solid strategy for filling seats, it’s not likely to increase workplace diversity. No one is saying that you should abandon your employee referral program (it really can be an effective tool for talent acquisition), but if it’s your primary hiring strategy, you may be hampering yourself from the perspective of inclusion. Unfortunately, for many businesses there continues to be a strong incentive to hire through connections and personal networks. Why? Because it’s much faster than starting from scratch with candidates who aren’t connected to your business in any way. For a growing company, time-to-fill and time-to-hire are both major concerns, and, without a robust talent pipeline to draw from when positions open up, those concerns will win out every time.
It Really Is a Pipeline Problem
Now, one of the most common responses that businesses have to the difficulties of hiring diversely is to declare it a “pipeline problem.” This usually means both that the general industry pipeline (all the way down to education and job training opportunities for minority candidates), and also the pipeline for the business in particular are too homogenous. In tech, for example, an individual startup might find that there are fewer women than men in the top computer science programs, and that women aren’t entering their company's talent pipeline. This makes true diversity seem impossible, even when companies are willing to devote resources to it.
Okay, sometimes it is a pipeline problem. How do you solve a pipeline problem? With a better pipeline!
It's no secret: most companies’ talent pipelines simply aren’t that robust to begin with. Either they’re relying on employee referrals, or they’re using job boards and recruiting agencies (which reach only a small fraction of potential candidates), which means that virtually no passive job seekers outside of their existing professional network are being presented with any employer brand messaging. Your company may have reworded its job advertisements to be more inclusive, but that only helps if people see those job advertisements who otherwise wouldn’t have. To make this happen, you need to adopt a recruiting strategy that actually spreads your employer brand to a diverse audience of passive job seekers. And right now, recruitment marketing is the best means of doing so. Why? Because it encourages HR departments to continually spread their employer brand and communicate their EVP to passive job seekers across the web—utilizing recruitment-centric content to build brand awareness, create brand gravity, and ultimately drive up applications from diverse sources.
This is how you build and sustain a robust talent pipeline—by actively engaging in recruitment marketing strategies designed to attract candidates who otherwise might not have heard of your business. Instead of scrambling to fill openings when they crop up, you can put yourself in a position to pick and choose from a host of qualified applicants who have already been exposed to (and expressed interested in) your employer brand. Sure, the pipeline for your particular industry might still work against your diversity efforts, but your own pipeline will be truly robust—and thus much more likely to present you with diverse potential hires.
SO, recruitment marketing will help give you a robust talent pipeline—meaning that while other companies are struggling to find minority candidates, you’re generating enough interest that each open position attracts applications from a diverse array of applicants. But now we come to the “automation” part of “recruitment marketing automation.” A robust talent pipeline is a good first step, but the key to continued success in this area is to take a measured, data-driven approach to diverse hiring.
What does this look like in practice? Well, for starters, if you can centralize your recruitment marketing activities into one location, you can run numerous campaigns across many disparate channels—and you can track your success on those channels with automated reporting functionality. In this way, you can begin to identify the tactics and venues that will yield the best results for your pipeline. Most of the time, you read about recruiters using this kind of reporting automation to optimize their cost-per-hire or time-to-hire, but it can be just as easily applied to something like diversity. Not finding any women on Instagram? Maybe Reddit is a better bet. Is your Facebook audience racially homogenous? Maybe it’s time to try Snapchat! Over time, you can see what works and what doesn’t, and you can build a talent pipeline that reflects a real sense of diversity. From there, hiring a diverse team (with the help of some of the strategies we mentioned in the first section) should be easy.
Inclusion and diversity are complex issues in modern recruitment—neither can solved overnight. But to whatever extent diversity is a pipeline problem, you can solve it with a smarter, better pipeline. What’s the clearest path to making that a reality? Without a doubt, recruitment marketing automation.
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