Strategies to Improve Diversity Recruiting

by Kim Robinson, SHRM-SCP

Bulletin,  Diversity and Equity,  Hiring,  HR Expertise and Support

Often, diversity recruiting rises to the top of the list for organizations implementing, formalizing, or expanding a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) plan. Recruiting, of course, is only part of a bigger picture that includes a top-down commitment, training, and systematic approaches to equity and inclusion. But successful recruiting means getting the right people for the right jobs in the door, creating an opportunity for organizations to further their DEI programs and plans.

It’s not hard to find great sites for recruiting diverse talent. A quick Google search yields long lists of sites targeting underrepresented candidates. The downside is that it’s a passive approach – post it and wait. Here are some strategies above and beyond posting to attract and select diverse candidates for your organization.


  • Be careful of language. Job ads sometimes use words like ninja, driven, high energy, collaborative, or conscientious. Ostensibly, these words are to make the ad more exciting and to sell company culture. While members of any gender or age group can demonstrate these types of qualities, they can unintentionally steer diverse candidates away. Stick to the facts about the job, using straightforward, clear language.
  • Include only must-haves. Inflating requirements can deter diverse candidates from applying. An example is top-notch university. Success in the job is likely predicated less on where someone went to school than academic success in schools with strong or accredited academic programs, or through relevant internships or prior employment.


  • Replace names with numbers. Candidate names can imply race, religion, national origin, or gender. There is software that removes names from resumes and replaces them with numbers, or recruiters can do the same before forwarding candidates to the interview team.
  • Use structured interviews. A planned interview with behavioral questions focused on job-related information and a rubric or scorecard can help minimize bias.
  • Watch for the word “fit.” When you hear yourself or others say a candidate is, or is not, a good fit, dig deeper. What behaviors or qualities does this refer to? Is it a proxy for unrecognized bias?
  • Raise awareness of unintentional bias. One of the most common biases in selection is affinity bias or being drawn to people like us, with similar racial or ethnic backgrounds, personal qualities, traits, or experiences. The result is a work team that looks and acts alike, limiting creativity and innovation. Consider training, challenging each other’s assumptions, and holding everyone accountable when bias creeps in.


  • Add and promote benefits that appeal to a diverse workforce. Things like parental or elder care leave, floating holidays, volunteer days, professional development, tuition reimbursement, remote work, and generous time off may attract a more diverse talent pool, as well as provide a window into your organization’s culture.
  • Use images and videos to tell your story. Research says that people process images 60,000 times faster than written words. Be sure images genuinely reflect your organization. Examples may include community involvement, work environment, and staff interactions with each other and customers.

Employers Council offers public and onsite training on interviewing and hiring to help organizations improve the effectiveness of their selection processes. To find out more about these and all our training offerings, check out our website, or contact an Employers Council representative.

*Improve your organization’s culture and outcomes. Download our free Employer’s Guide to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategy. 

About the author
Kim Robinson, SHRM-SCP

Kim Robinson is a consultant in the Human Resources Services Department where she provides members with information and perspective on HR operations, policy and current trends and topics. Kim has 20 years’ experience in Human Resources in health care, nonprofit and banking and finance. Kim has also held career coaching roles, supporting professionals at all levels in organizations in creating and achieving professional goals. Kim holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and is SHRM-SCP certified. She enjoys vegetable and xeric gardening, cooking, and reading.