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 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 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.
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!