This topic warrants a much longer and detailed post, but I just read Alex Salkever’s LinkedIn post titled, “How to Manage: Hiring for Diversity.” Whereas he focused primarily on extending a company’s reach when listing positions (I particularly appreciate his metaphor of networking and increasing the number of nodes in a network), I would argue that in the digital age, learning of openings in an organization is not an arduous task. The bigger issue is how to persuade potential diverse hires to actually apply. In other words, what’s the conversion rate between seeing the job description and acting on it? Here’s my response to him:

Alex Salkever, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences in this post. I especially appreciate the metaphor of networks/nodes to describe the recruiting process. As I read your post, however, it struck me that your suggestions here will increase your reach, but they don’t get to the heart of the issue: How do you get potential diverse hires to come to the table? In other words, why should they want to work for/with you?

One of the biggest issues I see in organizations of all types is that they don’t possess a culture that speaks to the reasons for wanting diverse hires. There is no question that diversity (of all types) is important and valuable, for the diversity of thought, ideas, and perspectives that come with diversity of experiences. But does the organization’s culture actually value these thoughts, ideas, and perspectives? It’s one thing to state a commitment to diversity, and entirely another to engage in practices that demonstrate that commitment. Do diverse hires, once on board, feel valued and heard?

Unless potential hires see your organization as a place that will embrace the diversity that they bring to the table, you can expand your network and distribute your listing as widely as you want, but the bottom line is that potential diverse hires will look around and ask (directly, if they feel empowered to do so) questions about the lack of diversity in the organization. Why has there been, up until this point, a lack of attention to diverse hiring practices? If the focus on diverse hiring is a new objective, does the organization have the structures in place to support a more inclusive workplace? Or, if this is not a new objective, why has the organization struggled to create a more diverse workforce? Or, does the organization struggle with retention of diverse hires, and if so, why?

I would argue that until an organization can address the issues of workplace culture, they will fail to persuade potential hires to invest their time and energy in applying.