May 25, 2022

Diversity and recruitment: what you need to know

Research shows having people from different backgrounds and different points of view can be great for any workplace. As McKinsey noted in its groundbreaking 2014 Diversity Matters study: 

“The unequal performance of companies in the same industry and country suggests that gender, racial, and ethnic diversity are competitive differentiators: more diverse companies lure better talent and improve their decision making, customer orientation, and employee satisfaction.”

But recruiting a diverse team isn’t necessarily as easy as it seems. Even most organisations’ best efforts fall short of hiring for true workplace diversity. 

With that in mind here are our four tips for successfully recruiting for diversity. 

1. Look outside your networks

The traditional way businesses have worked was that people tended to recruit through personal networks, or if they didn’t, they tended to hire people just like themselves. If someone knew you or knew your friends, went to the same university as you or grew up in the same area, you could trust them, right?

One of the main problems with this is that unnecessarily limited the pool of talent available. This restricted the types of ideas and perspectives that came from employees. And that, in turn, restricted the number of people a business would appeal to. 

So, the first step in hiring for diversity is to look beyond your immediate networks. That means advertising publicly – or through an independent party – for any job vacancy.

2. Be objective

A vast body of research shows that the hiring process is biased and unfair,” says the Harvard Business Review. That’s not just because hirers tend to favour people who think and act like themselves without even realising it, it’s also because they tend to be drawn to charisma rather than skill. The sweet-talker who performs well in an interview usually gets hired ahead of the more reserved – and often more competent – candidate.  

One way to help get around this is to create a list of attributes and skills you’re looking for in your new hire and to focus on these rather than on factors that don’t actually relate to how well someone is going to perform a job. 

If you’re carrying out the recruiting process internally, you should also try to pull together a diverse team of people to carry out the hiring process.

Better still, why not create your list of skills and attributes and then give it to someone external so that your own biases play no part in the recruitment process at all?

3. Go blind and hold a test

It’s not just in the job interview that bias can take hold. One place that it can often kick in – and reduce diversity in the workplace – is during the initial CV check. 

A way to get around this could be to have someone remove names and other obvious identifiers from applicants’ CVs before you do a cull. 

Even when you’ve narrowed it down, you don’t necessarily have to go straight to a face-to-face job interview. Depending on the type of role you’re hiring for, you could ask people to perform a work test or to provide a sample of something they’ve done. 

That way your first port of call will be on someone’s quality of work rather than on their background.      

4. Work on your own culture

Sometimes workplaces end up lacking diversity because the culture simply doesn’t attract people from various backgrounds or with different points of view. If that’s your organisation, you need to find ways to make your workplace more inclusive. 

Educate your employees on diversity and its merits and introduce diversity training for your managers. Set diversity goals and hold people to account for meeting them. Introduce workplace activities that appeal to a cross-section of people, not simply one narrow group. 

To make your workplace truly diverse, you need to look within as well as without.

Want more? 

You can read about how we recruit here at Catalina Consultants in this article.

Alternatively, if you’d like to know more about creating a more diverse workplace through your recruitment strategies, get in touch.

say hi to our author

Merilyn founded Catalina Consultants in 2012 on the belief that all organisations, regardless of size, should have access to top quality bespoke HR services. She enjoys working closely with her clients and believes that the best results are built on relationships of rapport, trust and authenticity. Growing up, Merilyn had her sight set on stardom and dreamed of becoming an actor. She also sang and played the piano, but ended up studying accounting and HR. Whilst she hasn’t won her Grammy just yet, she still loves a good karaoke night. Merilyn loves to travel with her family, with South Africa being one of her most memorable destinations.

related articles


Never miss an update from the Catalina Consultants HR team.
Sign up to get our news and blogs sent straight to your inbox.