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Why I Don't Want You to Hire Diverse People


Incredible women I know are searching for jobs right now. They’re brilliant, qualified and would be a great addition to any workplace.

But every time we speak, I learn something new about how broken the hiring dance (do-si-do?) is. From sending resumes into a black box (one qualified woman of color software engineer I know applied for 300 jobs to get 6 callbacks. She tracked it on a spreadsheet!) to all-male interviews, we have so far to go to make getting hired less painful — not to mention, more inclusive!

Then I hear from so many hiring managers that they want more diversity in the applicant pool. I’ll also get emails with the subject line: “Hiring for a new position. Know any great diverse people?

Sigh.

My problem with this question is the “diverse people” part. Diverse simply means difference. But you and I both know they’re not just asking for “different people.”

What they’re really asking for is underrepresented people. Underestimated people (thank you Arlan Hamilton–here’s Arlan on a HBR podcast explain why she uses this framing).

If you’re looking to hire more women, Black women, employees with disabilities, neurodiverse employees….then SAY THAT. When you vaguely say “diverse people” you’re using a euphemism that centers cisgender, white men (another way of translating the frustrating question above is “know any great not-white-cis-men?”).

Of course, this must come in tandem with committing to building inclusive, equitable workplaces where all people thrive, so that the “diversity” you're seeking won’t enter a hostile environment that will tokenize them.



That’s why I don’t want you to hire “diverse people.” Be intentional and own up to who’s missing from your organization today — and why. I appreciate it so much when leaders come to me saying, “we’ve not had a great culture for women because we haven’t addressed gender bias issues seriously before, which is why we’re almost all dudes. Here’s how we’re changing so that we can hire and retain more women — and here’s why it’s important to us.”

Let’s do away with the term “diverse people/candidates” once and for all.

If stop hiring diverse people was a mind-bender for you, or if it validated your own experience, I’d love for you to forward this email to someone you know. I want to spread this message as far and wide as possible!

Next week I’m tackling a topic that, well, it makes people squirm! But I have practical, non-scary tactics to share so you can approach this topic safely and effectively.

It’s a personal one, and that’s the final hint I’ll give. Stay tuned for my letter next Tuesday to find out what it is!

Until then,