Building a Diversity Sourcing Strategy

February 9, 2022
5 min

Over the past several months, employers have been grappling with one of the largest talent shortages in recent history. Recruiting and talent acquisition professionals are facing increasing pressure to source top talent while leadership teams are striving to slow turnover and keep existing employees engaged. Meanwhile, candidates are embracing their wealth of options and gravitating toward organizations where they feel a sense of belonging. 

All of this has only served to underscore the importance of developing a diversity sourcing strategy. But, as you’ve probably experienced, it’s easier said than done.

Recently, we held a webinar as part of our Book Club Action Series to address the topic of sourcing more diverse talent. And to help understand how successful organizations are creating sustainable strategies, we brought in two experts: Raquel Tamez, Chief Inclusion and Engagement Officer at Charles River Associates (CRA), and Joshua Bellis, Global TA Programs Leader/Head of Americas Recruitment at PTC.

Today, we’re sharing key learnings from the event to help you prepare your strategy for the year ahead.

The Three Largest Barriers to Diversity Sourcing

Despite growing economic and societal demands for organizations to focus more on diversity and inclusion efforts, only 11% of recruiters are evaluated based on their sourcing from underrepresented communities, according to data from Josh Bersin. And 50% of underrepresented job seekers believe that being from a diverse community is a disadvantage in the hiring process, according to our data.

So, what’s causing this disconnect?

We’ve discovered there are three common barriers to effective diversity sourcing for organizations of all sizes:

  • Time
    Diversity and inclusion are time-intensive, but organizations have to choose between time and developing a representative pool. And when recruiting teams invest their time but don't plan and prepare upfront, they sacrifice their sourcing efforts downstream.

  • Structure
    Structure is essential to effective and sustainable diversity and inclusion efforts. Anytime teams abandon structure in the hiring process, it leads to a bias-driven drop-off at critical stages.

  • Awareness
    When recruiting teams fail to account for all the different underrepresented communities they could potentially source from, it limits the pool. As a result, companies leave out entire communities from their hiring process.

When organizations and individuals view diversity through a myopic lens and allow time pressures, poor structure, and lack of awareness to impact the process, it limits their ability to cultivate a more diverse workforce. But how do you get your team out of that short-sighted view and create better hiring practices?

According to Raquel, you start by making sure the entire organization aligns on what diversity means, and you look at your data to determine where you need to improve. “At CRA, we define diversity very broadly in all of its beautiful forms,” she says. “And because we've done the internal and external assessments, we know where our opportunities are as a firm.”

Josh agrees. “You've got to know where you're starting and then build the structure,” he says.

Identifying and Building Strategic Partnerships for Diversity Sourcing

After you’ve assessed your strategy and defined diversity, the next step is determining how you’ll source diverse talent — something that’s becoming increasingly challenging in the current labor market.

To support their goals, Raquel and her team have fostered strategic partnerships — especially with Hispanic-serving institutions, historically black colleges and universities, and organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). But she points out that, to be effective, those partnerships must be rooted in authentic connections. “Meaningful relationships are based on shared risk and reward,” she says. “And so we have to move from transactional to relational. We've been very thoughtful in who our partners will be.”

Of course, establishing partnerships can be difficult when you’re competing with massive corporations like Amazon. That’s why Josh believes in getting even more granular when researching universities and professional organizations and then focusing time and energy on just a few key partners.

“We looked at the majors we need at PTC — the future skills that we're looking for — and what universities have those things,” he says. “Through publicly available data, we're able to see how many people are graduating out of groups like Latinx, black, and Hispanic. 

Instead of connecting with dozens of organizations or institutions and spreading your team thin attempting to build numerous relationships, he suggests selecting just five to seven.

Determine Your Funnel Drop-Off Points

Of course, when you put a significant amount of resources into efforts, like strategic partnerships, and still fail to meet your diversity and inclusion goals, it can be disheartening. But in those scenarios, there’s likely a weak point in the process jeopardizing your success. By identifying that area of opportunity, you can get back on track — and help strengthen your organization as a whole.

“Look at where people might be dropping off and why,” Raquel says. “And then when you understand the why, you have to address it through awareness and training.” 

It can be helpful to think of the hiring funnel like the sales funnel. When a company has a healthy pipeline of high-quality leads but few sales, there’s usually a specific spot where prospects are disengaging. To solve the problem, sales leaders have to diagnose the root cause and coach the entire team through the problem area until they’re aligned and motivated to improve. 

The same holds true for your diversity sourcing strategy.

Raquel points out that bias can show up at any stage — from recruiting and interviewing to presenting an offer. And anyone involved in any point in the process should receive training to help overcome and end the bias.

Additionally, it’s critical to establish a well-defined role for everyone who participates in an organization’s recruiting and hiring efforts, especially concerning diversity. Because, as Josh says, “When it's everyone's job, it’s no one's job.”

And finally, just as with sales and revenue, effective diversity and inclusion efforts require careful monitoring and optimization to ensure strategies are successful long-term. 

“We have to actually measure it and follow it the same way we would any other business initiative,” Josh says. “We're so focused on the top line and bottom line, which is great, but we should also be focused on the diversity line. And if we're following that as closely as we are the others, it's going to move forward.”

For more expert advice and insight, check out our recent webinar, Book Club Action Series: Building a Diversity Sourcing Strategy.

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