Are you focused on improving diversity within your organization this year?
A recent report estimated that 39 percent of nonprofits hope to diversify their workforce in the areas of race, age, gender, identity and differing abilities in 2019. And for good reason. The benefits of an inclusive culture and diverse team are well reported. However, even with the increased attention on diversity, inclusion and equity over the last few years, the nonprofit world has been slow to make any significant progress across boards, leadership, and teams.
As recruiters, HR executives, and organization leaders we must be more intentional about diversity. In order to see a meaningful shift, we need to evaluate our current processes and be open to changing the way our teams are currently filling roles.
Below are four specific ways you can improve your hiring practices, increase interest from people of color and other minority populations that tend to be underrepresented within the nonprofit industry, and allow your organization to truly benefit from increased diversity going forward.
Reconsider job descriptions and requirements
Take a close look at the job description for each role you’re looking to fill and consider if the requirements listed are actually necessary. Is a degree needed to excel in the role? Are you unnecessarily prioritizing candidates from top schools? Does it matter if they have experience with each of the tools you use internally or do they have the potential to learn the technology on the job? Do they really need to have a certain number of years of experience at a nonprofit?
Job descriptions often unintentionally discourage accomplished candidates from applying. Removing “nice-to-haves” from your list of requirements allows you to embrace individuals who followed a non-traditional career path and provides you the opportunity to see applications from a wider range of candidates.
Beyond the specific job requirements, be sure that the language used is inclusive and makes it clear that you are open to candidates regardless of age, gender, race or economic background.
Go beyond your personal network
With 1 in 10 American workers employed by a nonprofit, the lack of applications from individuals from underrepresented groups isn’t due to a “pipeline issue.” More than likely, it’s a result of your hiring tactics and processes. Nonprofit roles are often filled by word-of-mouth, allowing the homogeneity of social circles to directly impact the potential diversity across candidates. In order to increase diversity within your organization, you must look beyond personal networks and strategically leverage a broader list of resources and job boards.
Avoid screening for “culture fit”
When hiring for culture fit, managers often believe that they are looking for someone that will “fit-in” and not be disruptive to the productivity of the team. Yet this filter may lean more toward discrimination than actually being in the best interest of your organization.
When conducting an interview it is important to gauge how compatible an individual is with the core values of your organization. It’s also helpful to understand how a person works and if you’ll be able to support them in a way that allows them to do their best work. However, we must be aware of our personal biases and be sure they are not unnecessarily influencing our perception of each candidate. While we all want to like the people we work with, interviews should not prioritize individuals that you want to have lunch with, listen to the same bands, love yoga, or appreciate a fine glass of whiskey.
Focus on Inclusion rather than Diversity
One of the best ways to consistently improve diversity within your organization is to make sure your current employees are happy. Their day-to-day experiences, how satisfied they are in their work, and whether they feel empowered in their role will directly impact not only retention and productivity but also your ability to attract new talent. 47 percent of people seeking a new job cite company culture as the main reason for doing so. By focusing on creating an inclusive culture rather than achieving diversity benchmarks, you are able to set your organization up for a steady flow of more diverse, interested candidates.
Lisa Magill passionately tackles real-world problems with innovative and impactful solutions. Currently, she leverages her passions and expertise to help take the guesswork out of diversity and inclusion as Co-Founder & CEO of Aleria.