With the rise in our social consciousness about systemic inequity and institutional racism, business owners and executive teams are looking more closely at what they can do in order to diversify their workforce and address inequity in their businesses. 

Whether we’re talking about race, gender, age, or sexual orientation, research shows that having a diverse staff is the best thing for a business. Workplaces that have representative diversity (diversity across the entire team at all levels of the company) increases productivity, profits, problem-solving, and morale. 

Trudi Lebron M.S., is a sought-after coach for entrepreneurs, corporate institutions, and nonprofits helping them create social impact initiatives, and train leaders to lead with a lens for equity, diversity, inclusion, and impact. She shares four ways you can increase the diversity of your applicant pool and improve the hiring process so that your team better reflects the diversity of your customers, clients, and the world. 

1. Standardize And Publish Pay

When you determine pay rate based on the job and not the person, applicants can feel more assured they’ll avoid pay inequity and you avoid letting any subconscious bias influence your decisions related to starting salary and raises. 

“As more and more people are choosing non-traditional educational paths, and access to learning advanced skills are readily available online, the practice of linking salary to formal education is becoming obsolete,” explains Lebron. “By determining salary based on the value of a position to the company rather than to an individual person, you create pay equity among your team, despite the education level or years of experience, someone may have. 

“Publishing this pay structure in your job announcements lets candidates know that you take pay equity seriously. Candidates whose pay requirements fall outside of your salary won’t waste their time, or yours, by submitting application materials only to find that the position was not within their salary requirements in the first place, and your final candidate can know that their offer was not impacted by their identity.” 

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2. Say What You Mean

“Instead of stating that you encourage ‘diverse candidates’ to apply, specify that you encourage ‘BIPOC (Black/Brown, Indigenous, and other People of Color) applicants.’ The term ‘diverse’ has become code for ‘not-White’ which reinforces Whiteness as the norm. 

“If you encourage Black, Brown, Indigenous, Latinx, and applicants from other minority communities to apply, you are speaking directly to the audience that is going to create a diverse applicant pool. You are signaling to them that you want to hear from them in a very explicit way,” says Lebron.

“And although you might be wondering, ‘but… I shouldn’t hire someone just because of their race, right?’ Right. This is why ensuring you have a diverse applicant pool is so important. If you have representation in your applicant pool, for all your positions, you’re more likely to have representation among your final candidates and ultimately your workforce.” 

3. Make Equity And Inclusion Everyone’s Responsibility

In order to experience all the benefits of a diverse workplace, you need to maintain a healthy, inclusive culture with high retention rates. This means all employees are responsible for reinforcing this culture. “Put the ball in your applicant’s court by including questions in your application, or interview process that ask how the employee can contribute to an equitable workplace, or for their thoughts on being part of a team that prioritizes equity,” suggests Lebron. 

“As a result of these types of questions in an application process, candidates who express views that are anti-black, anti-lgbtqia+, or otherwise anti-inclusive sentiments, become less qualified for the role because the candidate’s ability to contribute to an inclusive institutional culture will be part of how you evaluate candidates.”

4. Build A Healthy Workplace Environment

Make sure that you have a healthy environment where people can show up fully, be heard, and feel like a valued member of the community. Create opportunities for matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion to be openly discussed and addressed. Create protocols for corrective action that are supportive, and strengths-based, and share power with your team with collaborative decision-making processes, and transparency when it comes to major changes or challenges.

“Inequity (actual and perceived) thrives where there is secrecy, and lack of clarity,” notes Lebron. “Over time, this leads to tense work environments where conscious and unconscious bias and inequitable practice become default ways of operating. By prioritizing an intentionally healthy, inclusive workplace culture you’ll retain all of your staff longer, and will become known as a brand that all team members, including your BIPOC staff, can show up and thrive in the workplace.”

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