does your employer brand help or hinder your diversity efforts?

February 21, 2017 James Foley

Often I hear business leaders say, “We need more diversity” or “We need better gender equality.” But, in the search for diversity, using the word “need” rather than “want” might just be the reason those companies don’t have it. A need doesn’t imply worth. It says you’re meeting an expectation. Wanting, on the other hand, implies value. It says that you’re willing to work to achieve diversity in your workforce. Personally, I’d rather be wanted than needed. So, how can organizations communicate that they authentically want diverse candidates through employer branding activity?

remember that authenticity grows from the inside out

Blasting diversity messaging into the marketplace won’t produce the right results if it doesn’t ring true internally. Prioritize understanding the importance of diversity for your organization and getting diversity right. Be transparent about your approach to achieving diversity, and be honest about the effect it’s having. Make sure diversity isn’t just a word heard internally, but that it’s seen and felt in every corner, at every level of the company.

Of course, that’s not to say that talking the proverbial talk isn’t also important. Word of mouth only spreads so far in the external market. But if you’re already doing diversity right, you’ll have more credibility when shouting it to the world.

do away with HR speak

It is well known that diversity and inclusion practices result in positive outcomes in almost every area of a business, producing stronger workplace cultures, cohesive teams, more critical thinking and better ideas. McKinsey research estimates diverse companies outperform the non-diverse by up to 35%. So why aren’t more employers communicating how much they value diversity to candidates?

In 2017, almost every company has an equal opportunity and/or diversity statement on its careers site and in job postings. Read more than a few and they start to sound like they were cut-and-pasted from the HR handbook.

Genuine and effective diversity messaging — the kind that makes people feel wanted, not needed — is what happens when you dig a little deeper. It’s not enough to state that you value differences and diverse perspectives. Explain to candidates what opportunities and benefits arise as a result. Don’t just list your organization’s veteran/military and diversity awards. Show and tell everyone what you did to earn them.

share real stories

Diversity can be challenging to communicate purely because it covers so much ground – there’s diversity in age, gender, ethnicity, ability, background, thinking style, attitudes, beliefs and more.

Your employees are the best examples of diversity in your workplace, so empower them to tell their stories as advocates. Where did they come from? What’s their collaboration style? What kind of opportunities have they received? Utilizing digital media like videos, social media posts and blog posts to share broad-ranging testimonials will give candidates an authentic, well-rounded view, showing the importance of diversity in your organization and how it resonates with your employees.

don’t forget inclusion

When you market to certain candidates, you’re excluding others. It’s a fine line. So how do you attract a diverse range of candidates and be inclusive? The answer is to target everyone. Promote your careers to all candidates, with the flexibility to tailor the message so it resonates with different audiences.

Attracting diverse candidates is only half the challenge. Once they’re through the door, what is your company doing to make sure everyone feels like they belong?

Recognizing that talent comes in all shapes, sizes and backgrounds, and then adjusting your practices and messaging to reflect this, can have a strong impact on your employer brand. Be open with your thoughts, transparent with your messaging and provide a positive experience to all candidates. Your happier, more diverse workforce can lead to greater retention, too.

About the Author

James Foley

James is Global SVP, Employer Brand. Leveraging a 20-year career as an expert consultant, business executive and marketing strategist, James supports the employer brand strategy and EVP development of global and local organizations. He enjoys helping companies to develop differentiated EVP, communication and marketing approaches to attract, engage and retain top talent.

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