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5 Red Flags Your Company’s Hiring Process Isn’t Inclusive

Job seekers today are actively looking for clues that a company’s culture will be inclusive.

I recently shared the story of Hilliary Turnipseed, who opted for a $30,000 pay cut to work in an inclusive environment.

If your goal is to attract the best people, you must learn to recognize how you are deterring prospects with your current methods.

That’s right: Employers are unwittingly alienating entirely qualified people at the hiring phase because of the words they choose to describe their ideal candidate and the job itself.

If you want the best talent at your company, you must intentionally create inclusive hiring practices.

Here, I detail 5 common hiring norms that hamper workplace inclusion efforts — and what to do instead:

1. Requiring college degrees for jobs that don’t need them: Harvard research shows millions of open jobs today that require a college degree are currently being completed by someone who doesn’t have one. This requirement is exclusionary and disproportionately sifts out applicants of color. Instead, prioritize experience and skills to attract talent from diverse backgrounds.

2. Using words that negatively impact women: Rockstar, ninja, hacker, guru, build, aggressive, analytical, and assertive are all words that are associated with conventionally masculine traits which research shows discourage women from applying. Instead, use more words like create, dedicated, responsible, conscientious, and social, which are more likely to encourage women to apply and–best of all–don’t discourage other genders from applying. Win-win!

3. Talking about “culture fit’: Looking for a candidate to “fit in” to your culture is exclusionary. It tells the candidate you want someone who is going to assimilate with whoever is already represented, which is often code for “white” and “male.” Instead, look at what perspectives are missing in your workplace and seek to create a culture add.

4. Having a homogeneous hiring team: A lack of diversity on your hiring team screams that you’re looking for “culture fit” (even if you’re not, intentionally) and turn candidates from other backgrounds off. Instead, allow people of a diversity of backgrounds to be part of the hiring team, so that they can bring their unique perspectives to the process and show candidates that you are committed to inclusion.

5. No transparency on salaries: Salary negotiation leaves the door open for exclusion. Sure, you may have hired a woman of color, but are you paying her less than you might have paid a white man? Research shows that’s very common when we leave salary conversations to negotiations over transparency. Instead, put a salary range directly in your job listing. Make sure you’re transparent and ensure the pay is in line with other comparable roles.

I shouldn’t need to say it, but I’ll say it anyway: Prioritizing an inclusive hiring process is necessary to attract the best candidates from all backgrounds.

Have you intentionally created a more inclusive hiring process? I’d love to hear what changes you made and how it affected your outcomes.


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