Smita Shetty Kapoor

Ensuring Diversity in Recruitment at All Levels, Especially in Leadership Roles | Smita Shetty Kapoor | CEO & Co-founder | Kelp

Smita Shetty KapoorWe live in an age where Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are gaining popularity among organizations steadily. And, it’s important to note that one of the stepping stones for DEI implementation lies in ensuring inclusive and diverse hiring practices.

It is often found that many organizations make surface-level efforts to represent people from diverse communities and identities. In 2020, when DEI started trending, a McKinsey report indicated a rise in DEI job requirements by 123% in 3 months.

Though such efforts by organizations are a good sign, it’s important to remember to implement DEI holistically, and not just tick the checkboxes within the organization. Diversity recruitment should uplift communities and not put the burden of performance on a few diversity hires, which is more tokenistic than inclusive in nature.

To embrace diversity hiring holistically, organizations need to look at making systemic changes in the hiring practices along with revamping hiring processes. By taking the help of employees who are allies to marginalized groups like caste-oppressed communities, tribal communities, neuro-divergent communities, LGBTQIA+ communities, people struggling with mental health concerns, and others, the hiring managers need to ensure that the hiring process is representative of diverse groups.

It’s essential to understand that one of the important diversity metrics, gender parity, shows a worrying trend of ‘a drop to the top’, i.e. a decline in representation of diverse genders in leadership roles. Though there is some progress compared to the previous decade, LinkedIn data reflects that 32.2% of women are in leadership roles, which is less by 10%, when compared to the overall percentage of women in the workforce. So, more efforts are needed by organizations to keep their top managerial roles available to candidates from every background and identity throughout the year, not just during specific times of the year, like diversity audits.

Also, it’s crucial to rely on data as a metric to track hiring processes and ensure that diversity hiring efforts work seamlessly. Data tracking will provide the requisite information about the diversity percentage in organizations and give insight into which roles people belonging to different groups are interested in.

Another vital step towards improving hiring practices involves drafting inclusive job postings focusing on the abilities and unique qualities required for the role, and not just the educational qualifications. In fact, some organizations are now inclusive enough to look beyond degrees and focus on experience and skills because studying in a college proves to be too expensive for lower-income groups, who are equally talented as others but may just lack the means and opportunity. Job postings also need to use inclusive language and not include gender-specific personal pronouns while describing employee roles and responsibilities.

The responsibility of hiring diversely does not end with the job description and job posting. A survey by a software company in New York of about 1000 plus job seekers in October 2023, reveals that about one-third of the employees had encountered discrimination in the interview process, and 30% of them believed that they had been refused a job on account of their age. To avoid such discrimination, hiring managers have to ensure that bias doesn’t seep in during interviews, hence the diversity council and employee resource groups need to share their learnings and insights with the team before the hiring process begins.

To combat discrimination, many job recruiters also ask employees to remove their gender, name, and other identity markers while sending resumes and instead, a computerized number is assigned to resumes during the filtering process. Such practices help overcome the inherent biases that everyone has subconsciously.

While diversity at every job role and level is essential for wholesome inclusiveness within an organization, it is very important for leadership diversification, as it helps create the way for diversity at other levels as well. For example, when people with diverse gender identities occupy leadership roles in an organization, they attract a more diverse gender pool to apply, which would further equalize gender parity in organizations. With the current generation focusing more on inclusion and personal values, it’s more necessary now than ever to practice inclusive hiring processes that would help organizations as well as employees grow.