Recruiting Experiences

Diversity Last? Why Equity and Inclusion Matter

In my last entry, I talked about diversity, equity, and inclusion in recruiting. I went about defining what those things meant to me and how I believed they should be practiced throughout the recruiting process.

 

As with everything in life, there is always much to learn; a recent article by Richard Leong, a DEI consultant based in California, as well as the IndySHRM DEI Conference, has me going through the process of reframing the definitions I established just one blog ago!

It is what it is, and it’s work worth doing.

So, here’s why I’ve come to think, in the grand scheme of things, diversity is the least important thing we should be focused on, and why equity and inclusion need our attention, especially when it comes to recruiting.

 

What is equity again?

Per my previous entry (and from the Urban Strategies Council):Equity is fairness and justice achieved through systematically assessing disparities in opportunities, outcomes, and representation and redressing [those] disparities through targeted actions.

This means we understand why certain people and communities carry privilege and access, while others do not.

 

What about inclusion?

In Forbes’s 2021 article, Paolo Gaudiano’s said: “inclusion is the act of ensuring that people’s experiences within an organization are not impacted negatively as a result of their personal characteristics.”

This is sometimes also (or concurrently?) called belonging, because it is the means with which we make others feel a sense of being included or belonging.

 

So, what’s wrong with diversity?

Great question.

Diversity has been championed as the measure for which a company, school, or organization can claim social capital. Unfortunately, too often is this act of creating “diversity” actually just performance; while places might be hiring people who don’t look the same as the majority of their employee base, their leadership is still all white men or their workplaces are not safe for the people they’ve hired or the turnover rate for folks from marginalized groups remains high.

The list goes on.

At the end of the day, diversity becomes co-opted by those in leadership as a shield, therefore stripping it of its power.

 

Wait, so why is diversity less important than those other two?

It’s quite simple: if equity is at the center of our practices to create inclusive workplaces + cultures, then diversity will naturally occur.

This shifts the focus from “diversity” to “equity and inclusion.” By shifting the focus, we can start to change and/or implement equitable, inclusive procedures and practices. That doesn’t mean diversity isn’t important; it means that by creating equitable access to opportunities and creating inclusive, informed spaces and processes, we will naturally trend towards diversity in who we hire, who we promote, and who leads us.

 

Okay, that makes sense. However, what’s that have to do with Richard’s article?

Well, this is where it all comes together.

In his article, Richard talks about shifting from DEI to EDI. He defines EDI as Equitable Diversity and Inclusion, meaning that by framing, “Diversity and Inclusion as under the overarching adjective of Equitable, it sets us up to think differently.

The hierarchy here places equity above the others, something I agree with. But in truth, if we are focused and practicing equitable inclusion, which would be the understanding that not all employees have the same type of access and privilege and creating a workplace and culture grounded in that, then equitable diversity will come.

 

Okay I get it. If equity is being centered, and equitable inclusion is being embraced, then diversity will come. I get it! What’s that have to do with recruiting?

Everything.

By creating equitable recruiting habits, we are more likely to eliminate bias from our practices. Will we always be perfect and eliminate bias by implementing these things? Of course not.  That’s not possible! But it’s something to strive for. And that’s the thing; so many of us in this space what to recruit “diverse candidates,” but what does that really mean? Are we just filling quotas for the hiring teams? Or are we truly connecting the right people with these opportunities?

Instead of looking for diversity, we should focus on the why and how we do things. By practicing equitable inclusion, by centering equity, we invite diversity: in our candidates, in our employees, and in our companies. When that happens, we grow.

 

To learn more about this topic, you can click on the links below:

The Inescapable Ambiguity of DEI and Why EDI Works Better (substack.com)

HOME | Urban Strategies Council | Bay Area, CA, USA

Future of the workforce for vulnerable populations | Deloitte Insights

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Recruiting; An Introduction 

You see it everywhere these days: DEI (or one of its numerous cousin acronyms): Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.  

What even is that? And what does it have to do with recruiting? 

 If you have found yourselves asking those questions, I am hoping I can help.  

While I am not an expert, I am trying to learn about and understand DEI because, as I explore my own identity as a Korean American adoptee, I have realized just how important it is both professionally and personally.   

Here are some definitions and how they affect recruiting:  

Diversity

Diversity can have many definitions. I like this one from the Greater Good Science Center: “diversity” refers to both an obvious fact of human life—namely, that there are many kinds of people—and the idea that this diversity drives cultural, economic, and social vitality and innovation. 

We, as people, are diverse in so many ways: ethnicity, gender, education, wealth, body type, language, sexual orientation, and more. Much more. Our differences make us who we are as humans. Instead of embracing those differences, we often push back against them. This leads to the spaces we occupy looking terribly similar to ourselves. 

This mindset, our bias, influences everything we do. 

In recruiting, we are told to check our bias at the door when reviewing resumes and interviewing candidates, with good reason. By allowing our bias to influence our work, we can overlook candidates who might be the best fit for the job, all because they are too “different.” 

By confronting our biases and checking them as we work, we can start to build pipelines (a pool of candidates recruiters seek out and connect with regarding jobs) with that reflect the world we live in, not our limited perspectives.  

 Equity

Equity can be difficult to define, and just like diversity (as well as inclusion), has been defined in many ways. Per the Urban Strategies Council: Equity is fairness and justice achieved through systematically assessing disparities in opportunities, outcomes, and representation and redressing [those] disparities through targeted actions. 

I originally came across this definition in an article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review on centering equity when it comes to social justice work, something I have become intensely passionate about over the past three years as I have worked to reclaim my identity as an Asian American during a period of violence against that very community. 

It means understanding why certain people do not have equal and equitable opportunities, representation, and outcomes and using your privilege and position to change that. 

In recruiting, it can be easy to make assumptions about a candidate, influenced by our biases. Part of our job is trying to find the “right fit” or the “perfect candidate.” On its face, this would seem like the entire point of recruiting.  

However, this mindset can often lead to us subconsciously seeking out candidates of a specific profile, usually white and male (this profile has been established as the “perfect candidate,” due to things like the patriarchy, white domination, etc. – concepts that are important to name here). 

By stopping the hunt for perfection, and by asking ourselves questions via prompts throughout our sourcing and screening process, we can start to build equity into our recruiting systems, by helping to shape and change our culture towards a more equitable and equal one. 

Inclusion

If you were wondering, “Does inclusion have multiple definitions, too?” Congrats! I appreciate you for reading. 

I really resonated with this definition from Paolo Gaudiano in a May 2021 article for Forbes: “inclusion is the act of ensuring that people’s experiences within an organization are not impacted negatively as a result of their personal characteristics.” 

At its core, inclusion is the act of implementing diversity and equity into our practices. It means when we bring people of various identities in and provide them equitable opportunities, representation, and outcomes, we are actively creating and upholding a culture of belonging. 

In recruiting, if we are practicing diversity and equity in our hiring processes then we can feel confident that our process is an inclusive one. It means we are actively evaluating our systems, providing a safe workplace and culture, and hiring talent from all identities and experiences at all levels of the workplace. 

By creating an inclusive recruiting process, we create inclusive workplaces and cultures. 

—————— 

Practicing diversity, equity, and inclusion in recruiting is not just important, it’s necessary. That is why everyone is talking about it. That is why you’re reading this now. 

It is not enough to just build diverse pipelines, we must hire diverse candidates across all levels of our companies. We must create a safe and equitable hiring process. We must always evaluate and re-evaluate the “how” of our recruiting and hiring processes. 

We must also evaluate and re-evaluate our “why.”  

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are not just buzzwords; they are necessary, foundational elements that we must practice to create diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces. 

I talk about these things and more on LinkedIn – connect with me there!