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Diversity Isn't Optional: How 3 Talent Leaders Pursue DEI Initiatives

Diversity Isn’t Optional: How 3 Talent Leaders Made DEI an Organizational Imperative

All too often, organizations treat DEI initiatives as optional—but this approach couldn’t be worse for business. According to McKinsey, gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their national industry median and ethnically diverse companies typically experience a 35% increase in performance compared to homogenous competitors. Similarly, a Boston Consulting Group report found diverse management teams generate 19 times more revenue than non-diverse teams.

The statistics speak for themselves: diversity is key to business success. But how many companies treat DEI initiatives as a true organizational imperative?

The unfortunate answer: not enough. “Prominent tech companies have made little progress in their stated goal of hiring more minorities,” notes one CNBC article

For example, many enterprises saw only “low single-digit increases in their percentage of Black employees” from 2014 to 2020. And while the gender and race wage gap is narrowing, access to opportunity and discrepancies in salaries persist for underrepresented tech talent. 

DEI data

For example, in our 2022 State of Wage Inequality in the Tech Industry report, our platform data showed: 

  • 36.7% of roles only sent interview requests to men
  • The percentage of positions only sending interview requests to white or asian men continue to drop, but is still a hefty 49%
  • Black women continue to see the widest gap among the demographics analyzed.

Editor’s Note: See the 2023 State of Wage Inequality research in the new report.

“There is still work to be done in ensuring equitable hiring processes to narrow wage and expectation gaps, and companies must prioritize this effort,” says Hired CEO Josh Brenner. 

“Post-Great Resignation, companies successful in identifying non-traditional talent, while also ensuring diversity and representation in their candidate pipelines, will be better positioned to drive their businesses forward in a time of increased volatility.” 

To see what steps business leaders across the country are taking to drive impactful DEI efforts, we’ve compiled actionable insights from Hired’s Talk Talent to Me podcast. Read on to learn how Match Group, Capital One, and Tech Can [Do] Better work to enact positive change—and how your organization can do the same.

How Match Group attracts underrepresented candidates

Match Group Vice President of Talent Acquisition, Craig Campbell Diversity Isn't Optional: How 3 Talent Leaders Pursue DEI Initiatives

Expert: Match Group Vice President of Talent Acquisition, Craig Campbell

Examine your entire hiring process

To build a pipeline of diverse talent, Campbell suggests baking DEI into every part of your hiring process: from branding to sourcing to interviewing. “Think about what you’re doing to attract the right talent,” he says. “Can you stand on your approach and say it’s end-to-end fair, objective, and inclusive?” 

Revisit value propositions

In a crowded marketplace, corporate branding can make or break your recruiting efforts. 

As Campbell puts it, “Do you present an attractive value proposition to start with, and then are you ensuring that you’re not doing things to diminish your opportunity to convert as much talent as possible? 

That’s something you can apply in general, and then even more specifically when you start to think about segments like Black or African-American, Latinx, women, and the LGBTQ community. 

For each underrepresented segment in your organization, you have to take an inside-out approach to determine: Do I have the right value proposition to attract that audience?” 

Many businesses already use market segmentation for customer acquisition—and the same strategies can be used to attract diverse candidates. “I don’t think it’s a far reach to apply some of that expertise to talent segmentation,” says Campbell. 

Related: See Hired’s solutions for Talent Acquisition professionals.

Take a stance on social issues

Candidates will notice what your company does—and doesn’t—say. 

As Campbell puts it, “Another part of your value proposition is your position as it relates to social causes. I think that’s a new and emerging component of the value proposition, with candidates asking companies what they stand for and how that shows up in how they do business and support employees.” 

According to Edelman’s 2022 Trust Barometer, 60% of respondents said they will choose a place to work based on their beliefs and values. 

Organizations with clear answers and concrete evidence will stand out for their commitment to taking action. “Whether you have a story to tell—or more importantly, a track record—could be the difference between you being more or less competitive,” says Campbell.

Listen to the whole episode

How Capital One nurtures an inclusive culture

Capital One Senior Director of Diversity Talent Acquisition, Kanika Raney Diversity Isn't Optional: How 3 Talent Leaders Pursue DEI Initiatives

Expert: Capital One Senior Director of Diversity Talent Acquisition, Kanika Raney

Prioritize DEI initiatives in onboarding

At Capital One, Raney is proud to have helped shape a successful onboarding program that sets the tone for company culture and employee experience. 

“Everyone goes through a day-long training to learn more about our culture and values,” she says. “For us, it’s essential they feel included from day one.” 

Part of that mission means emphasizing DEI initiatives through the onboarding process—and encouraging new employees to get involved with relevant business resource groups and activities. 

Onboarding isn’t something that occurs only when someone starts a new job, though. Rather, it happens any time there is a transition—and DEI should be emphasized at each milestone. 

“That can be when you transfer to a new role, when you get a new manager, if there’s a reorganization, or if you’re returning from an extended leave,” explains Raney. “And companies should have an onboarding strategy for each of these defining moments in an employee’s career.”

Unburden minority employees

Far too often, the burden falls on minority groups to cultivate inclusivity within an organization. “More often than not, if you’re the only female or the only Latinx employee at a senior level, you’re going to be tapped on the shoulder every single time,” says Raney. “And that becomes a lot for one person representing one demographic.” 

[token-ism] /ˈtōkəˌnizəm/ noun
The practice of doing something, such as hiring a person from a minority group, just to appear to be treating people fairly and to avoid criticism.” Diversity Isn't Optional: How 3 Talent Leaders Pursue DEI Initiatives

Tokenism [to-ken-ism] /ˈtōkəˌnizəm/ noun

“The practice of doing something, such as hiring a person from a minority group, just to appear to be treating people fairly and to avoid criticism.” 

To prevent tokenism,  business leaders should own this responsibility themselves rather than relying exclusively on employee groups. 

For example, Capital One hosted a speaker series to advance authentic dialogue, grow DEI awareness, and promote allyship. 

“It’s about creating the space for open dialogue and allowing people to join in on a voluntary basis versus putting employees on the spot and making them feel like, ‘I’m the one that has to step up and answer this question,’” explains Raney. 

Related: Panel discussion: “Close the Gap with Advocacy & Allyship”

Forget about “culture fits” 

Rather than hiring candidates who are culture fits, Raney suggests rewriting the script and seeking culture adds. 

“Why are we trying to force people into a fit?” she asks. “It should be less about, ‘Can you fit into this culture?’ and more about, ‘What are you adding to this culture?’” 

To that end, Raney emphasizes the importance of training staff to think differently during the recruitment process. 

For instance, in an effort to embrace DEI hiring teams might ask: 

  • Can this candidate bring an alternative perspective to the organization? 
  • In what ways will their original insights benefit our business? 
  • If someone is missing a credential, can they learn relevant skills on the job? 
  • Are they growth-minded? 
  • Do they offer something we didn’t even know we needed? 

Listen to the whole episode

How Tech Can [Do] Better leverages critical diversity data

Tech Can [Do] Better founder & CEO, Lawrence Humphrey Diversity Isn't Optional: How 3 Talent Leaders Pursue DEI Initiatives

Expert: Tech Can [Do] Better founder & CEO, Lawrence Humphrey

Partner with outside organizations 

Humphrey’s nonprofit, Tech Can [Do] Better, was founded one week after the murder of George Floyd. “We’re all about driving racial equity, and equity more broadly, in and through the tech industry,” says Humphrey. 

“This was a window of opportunity like none I’d ever seen before, so I thought: How can we turn this moment into a movement where all of the most influential companies in the world have an ear for systemic change? How can we actually make something out of it?” 

Today, Tech Can [Do] Better partners with innovative organizations to provide data-driven perspectives on how to enact change. “You can’t improve what you don’t measure,” explains Humphrey, quoting a famous maxim. 

In running reports for tech companies, he helps business leaders identify—and fill—critical representation gaps. A large part of that process is breaking down data by gender, role, tenure, and other variables. This helps them become DEI leaders, too.

“You need to be able to segment the data,” says Humphrey. “It’s not enough to say that 15% of your workforce is Black. Where are the Black folks in your workforce?” 

By getting granular, you can identify opportunity areas that might have otherwise gone overlooked—whether that’s diversifying the C-suite or rolling out initiatives to improve retention in a certain department.

Set realistic expectations for DEI initiatives

“Systemic problems require systemic solutions,” says Humphrey, “and systemic solutions require a long time frame.” It’s important for talent companies to recognize meaningful change can’t occur overnight. 

Instead, DEI initiatives are an ongoing commitment to building a better workforce. As Humphrey explains, “It’s a little bit of work done for a long time. You can’t expect to just burst through some sprints or an intense one-quarter cycle, and then achieve equity. 

That’s not how this works. It’s a commitment—and I feel comfortable saying it’s a life-long commitment.”

Listen to the whole episode

Here’s What You Can Do to Make DEI a Priority 

Embrace best practices

List salary bands. Use technology to reduce bias. Drop requirements for traditional four-year degrees and avail roles to those with non-traditional educational backgrounds, like bootcamps. In our 2022 State of Software Engineers report research, we found in 2021: 

  • 46% of software engineers had a computer science degree
  • 24% were self taught
  • 18% have a relevant college degree (ex., mathematics, information technology, data science, etc.)
  • 11% participated in a bootcamp program.

In each case, the percentage increased 1% from 2020, except for “relevant college degree,” which decreased 4%.

We’ve also seen wonderful results of bootcamp graduates on Hired, such as Paula Muldoon, who transitioned careers. After earning multiple degrees in and enjoying a music career, she joined a program through our partner, Makers, in the UK. She’s now a software engineer for Zopa, a leading financial company. 

We’ve already seen great examples of DEI on our platform. So much so that we scored employers on our core values of equity, efficiency, and transparency in our first List of Top Employers Winning Tech Talent. Want to make the next list? Draw on these top ranking companies inside for inspiration.

If you’re ready to follow in these organizations’ footsteps, Hired is here to help. By leveraging our platform’s innovative DEI tools and transparent salary data, we help your company build diverse teams and close critical wage gaps—one hire at a time.