Creating an Inclusive Talent Brand and Candidate Experience

February 11, 2022
5 min

There are many ways a job seeker might discover a job opening with your organization. For example, they might stumble across a post on LinkedIn or Glassdoor, receive a referral from someone in their network, or visit your website’s careers page while searching for relevant opportunities. But, regardless of how it begins, the candidate experience has a significant impact on how well you and your team succeed in your diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

As we navigate the Great Resignation, recruiting and talent professionals are at the helm, and it’s in your power to steer your ship toward a more diverse and inclusive future where candidates from all communities feel welcomed and valued. But it all starts with creating a talent brand and candidate experience that resonates.

In a recent installment of our Book Club Action Series, we invited DEI leaders to share their experiences and insight. Today, we’re sharing a few pearls of wisdom from that enriching event.

Employers are Not Clearly Communicating Their Commitment to Diversity

According to our 2021 Diversity Hiring Report, 81% of underrepresented job seekers believe it's important for an organization to invest in diversity, but only 6% are clear on employers’ diversity goals based on the hiring process. In other words, most employers are failing to adequately communicate precisely how they’re working to cultivate a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

As a result, candidates may feel the process is not accessible to them, or they may not feel comfortable or safe representing their community and, inevitably, drop out at critical stages.

“We want to ensure that all candidates considering us for roles feel seen,” says Shayna Walker, Global Head of ED&I at TripAdvisor. “They see themselves in our work, in our culture, and in our people.”

Shayna says TripAdvisor is actively working to be more transparent across its job descriptions, career page, diversity page, and in the conversations team members have with candidates. The company also communicates its dedication to intersectional diversity through website images, employee testimonials, and a breakdown of organizational values.

Data software company Splunk offers another excellent example of communicating a commitment to intersectional diversity and inclusion. In a recent video campaign titled “A Million Data Points,” team members share their unique stories through several small but impactful statements. For example, one employee shares, “I am a lesbian and a mom,” another says, “I am biracial,” and a third states, “My whole family is deaf.”

This campaign aims to help candidates feel comfortable sharing their own “data points” and recognize that Splunk values diversity across the organization.

Employers’ Most Common Areas of Opportunity (and How to Overcome Them)

Many companies want to do better when it comes to diversity and inclusion, but their candidate experience is still lacking.

“What we're finding is people have great intentions, but the impact hasn't quite caught up,” says Rocki Howard, former Chief Diversity Officer at SmartRecruiters (now Chief People and Equity Officer at The Mom Project). “Companies are barely scratching the surface when it comes to diversity and brand equity, and a lot of organizations are missing out on the most basic opportunities to publicly share their commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workforce.”

So, what are the hurdles? And how can businesses overcome them?

According to Rocki and data she and her team compiled at SmartRecruiters, most organizations aren’t consistently publicizing their diversity plans, commitments, metrics, and outcomes. And many lack processes for setting diverse hiring goals. This is why she says it’s crucial to “focus on being proud and transparent versus being perfect.” Sometimes simply showing your company is making strides to support diversity is enough to make diverse talent feel welcome.

But it’s also essential you don’t limit your scope of diversity or fail to embrace intersectionality in your candidate experience.

“It doesn't stop at racial or gender diversity,” says Sara Elsayd, Global Head of Executive and Diversity Recruiting at Tripadvisor. “We’re also doing work with veterans organizations and groups that work with folks that are differently abled.” She and Shayna ensure the organization shows up at conferences that cater to a wide range of underrepresented communities.

Sofiya Cheyenne, a teaching artist at New Victory Theater and Disability Inclusion Consultant, says it’s also essential for organizations to think about how well they’re communicating their willingness to accommodate people with disabilities. “Typically, I was the only person with dwarfism in the room most of my life, and so I had to ask for what I need and become an advocate very young,” she says. She points out that while it’s illegal to ask someone about their disability, simply letting all candidates know your organization offers larger font applications or has elevators on-site can help people with disabilities feel more confident about moving forward.

Creating an Experience that Supports All Types of Diversity

Developing a better talent brand and candidate experience often means rethinking the entire hiring process.

“Historically, it's been creating criteria to weed people out,” Shayna says. “And now we're learning that it's important to structure criteria to bring people in.”

For example, that might mean considering whether educational requirements are necessary for things employees can learn on the job. “The world is changing pretty quickly,” she says. “Instead of having someone who can do the job that's in front of them right now, you should be looking for people who are agile, adapt well, and can continue to grow and pivot.”

It also may mean rethinking physical barriers in job descriptions. Sofiya notes many descriptions include requirements like being able to lift 20 pounds or walk up a flight of stairs when, ultimately, there may be ways around those things. Like, for instance, allowing people to do jobs remotely. “Disabled folks have been asking to work from home for years,” she says. “Now, there's no excuse. You have to hire us because we can work from home.”

Sara agrees that virtual work can help support diversity from multiple angles. In addition to overcoming institutional and systemic barriers, like transportation, it also allows you to hire from a wider talent pool outside your geographic area. “Reverting to a very archaic way of thinking about work is not going to help us,” she says.

And, finally, it means focusing on positive, incremental change rather than becoming overwhelmed by a desire for perfection.

“We always think that it's going to take this big miraculous thing to change,” Rocki says. “I don't think that's the case at all. I think we change the world one story, one conversation, and one action at a time.”

For more expert advice and insight, check out our recent webinar: How to Create an Inclusive Talent Brand & Candidate Experience.

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