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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Building Diverse Teams

Unsure of where to start for building a diverse team within your business? This blog shares tips on how you can get started on creating change in your workplace. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) have been a HUGE topic of discussion for employers over the past few months. The momentum is growing, and consumers are demanding change and choosing to use their purchase power to support companies with diverse employees.    

The good news is that employers want to do the right thing and hire a diverse range of candidates, the bad news is that they just don’t know-how. If you are an employer who is stumped with how to develop a more inclusive hiring process, you’re not alone. We’ve had numerous calls from our clients saying, “We want to hire more diverse talent, but we just don’t know how”.   

The journey to creating diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplaces is long and isn’t something that can be solved overnight. However, we have a few tips for developing an inclusive hiring process to get you started on your path to change: 

1. Let’s talk about your Job Ad 

Creating a job ad is often perceived as the easiest part of the recruitment process – however, this is untrue. Poorly written job ads can have a negative impact on companies when attracting candidates in general, let alone when trying to attract a diverse range of them. When creating an inclusive job ad, you will want to: 

Remove barriers
Eliminate job criteria that are part of your “wish list” but are not actual requirements for the role, and instead, identify what is ACTUALLY needed in your role to be successful. If the role does not require a specific education level (i.e. bachelor’s degree) or skillset (i.e. Expert Level  Excel), don’t add them.

Assess the language
When assessing the language used in your job ads, it is important to ask yourself:

  1. Is the language being used gender-neutral?
  2. Is the language inclusive to different ethnicities, religions, ages, demographics, and are you encouraging LGTBQ2A+ applicants? 

If you’re unsure, there are science and data-based tools like Textio or Gender Decoder to help assess the language used in your job ads. This will help you determine if your language is unintentionally dissuading applicants. 

Customize your Job Ads
Write different ads to target different audiences. If you’re seeking to hire candidates from marginalized groups – write ads that speak to them directly.  Be direct, call it out! Showcase how you are an inclusive employer. Describe your team and how you include others. The more you share; the more people will apply. 

2. Sourcing candidates 

When sourcing a diverse range of candidates, employers need to move away from the conventional “post and pray” pipelines. Writing an ad, and then posting it on Glassdoor or Indeed does not cut it! If you want to hire different people, you need to hire differently. 

Here are some tips to help shake up your recruitment efforts: 

Host career workshops
Collaborate with minority leaassociations or student groups to increase access to your organization and enable a diverse range of candidates to become aware of opportunities in your field.  

Participate in niche career fairs
Attend career fairs that support underrepresented communities such as Canadian Immigrant Career Fair or Forward Summit 

Post ads where diverse candidates will see them
Engage with online groups that can give you access to specific communities. Facebook and LinkedIn are great platforms to source out candidates within niche community groups.  

Get involved in community events
Seek out relevant events to attend and participate in – you can often find various types of events that are catered to specific groups of people through academic institutions, organizations, charities, or even community clubs. The more involved you are with diverse communities; the more they will become aware of your commitment to inclusion and likely to apply.  

Encourage referrals
It is likely that your diverse employees have connections to the communities you are seeking to hire within. Use them! Encouraging your team to share your job ads with their networks will help increase your diverse recruitment pipeline 

3. Screen
ing Candidates

When screening candidates, our unconscious biases can rear its ugly head and prevent us from moving candidates forward unwittingly. To reduce the risk of unconscious bias impacting the hiring process, you can: 

Use a blind and anonymous resume process
Establish a process for reviewing resumes so that you won’t be able to see names or give off any identity cues such as zip codes, headshots, or ageIn doing so, all resumes will be reviewed on an even playing field reducing bias for gender or ethnicity.  Find out more about blind hiring best practices here 

Standardize prescreening questions and assessments
Remove the subjectivity of the screening process by creating standardized prescreening questions to vet your candidates. Use your ATS or your free Indeed platform to move candidates forward based on their results, not personal preference. 

4. Interview
ing Candidates

The interviewing stage is a critical inflection point where bias, both conscious and unconscious impact the hiring process. Employers will need to make intentional decisions to begin to change. This includes modifying behaviours, mindsets, and processes to impact progress. Here are a few things you can do to ensure your interview process encourages diverse hiring: 

Train your hiring managers
We cannot express enough how important this is. It is so important that we say it again – TRAIN YOUR HIRING MANAGERS! Like any other part of a job, interviewing is a skill that needs to be taught. All hiring managers should be trained on the following topics: 

  • Corporate DE&I Goals  
  • DE&I best practices 
  • Impact of unconscious bias 
  • How to avoid “halo” or “like me” hiring
  • What you can and cannot ask during an interview (I.e. protected grounds) 

Standardize your interview questions and rating system
Similar to screening, it is important that your questions and rating system are standardized so that you are evaluating each candidate consistently. When the same questions are asked and answered, it helps to create an equal assessment process for every candidate interviewed.  

Establish a diverse hiring committee
A great way to increase diverse hires is to have a diverse hiring committee. Whether the committee is comprised of individuals who represent members of marginalized communities or those who are committed to the cause, having a hiring panel that is dedicated and committed to increasing diversity will increase your team’s ability to spot unconscious bias and remove it from your hiring process.  

5. Select
ing Candidates

Don’t rely on your gut
While intuition can help drive our decisions, our gut can be skewed by external factors that can create biases. If you have created a fair interview process, trust the evidence that is in front of you and make decisions based on the facts. Trust your process and that you are making the right decision! 

Get a second opinion
If you are deciding between 2 or 3 final candidates, get a second opinion; ideally from someone who shares a different background than you (ie. gender, ethnicity, age, religion). Share the pros and cons, review your interview scorecards, assess the facts, and ask for their thoughts.  


We’re here to help! 

If you need help creating or implementing your DE&I recruitment plan, click here to connect with our team of DE&I specialists, or send us an email at [email protected]